04/05/2013 1:49PM

Santa Anita: In the Stars returns in American Beauty

Shig Kikkawa
In the Stars's last victory came in this optional claimer on the Hollywood turf in December.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Five starts into her winter campaign, In the Stars was getting way too intense. She wanted to go fast. Her trainer wanted her to go slow.

“She was getting a little bit fresh in her races,” Richard Mandella explained. “She was trying to show a lot of speed and pull.”

The middle of February was the right time for a mental freshening, and after a runner-up finish in the Grade 2 Buena Vista, Mandella gave In the Stars a seven-week break.

“She had run enough, and she needed a little extra time,” he said.

Time’s up.

In the Stars returns Sunday in the $75,000 American Beauty Stakes, a one-mile turf race for fillies and mares. The race drew only five starters, which typifies the Santa Anita card on Sunday – 62 horses entered nine races.

With a small field and a seemingly dominant favorite in In the Stars, the American Beauty will be run early. It goes as race 3, one race before the first leg of the pick six.

In the Stars faces three John Sadler trainees. I Dazzle won a second-level allowance for Jack Van Berg; she makes her first start Sunday for Sadler. He also entered European import Moone’s My Name and stakes-placed Byrony. Bob Leonard trains Little Emily, who is returning from a layoff of nearly six months.

In the Stars was 1 for 6 in South America and placed in four Group 1’s before arriving in the United States. Except for a dirt-surface experiment that backfired, In the Stars improved as her campaign unfolded, though Mandella sensed trouble when she sped to the lead Jan. 19 in a minor stakes and got worn down.

The aggressive style was not what Mandella was trying to teach, and when she pulled again Feb. 18, the trainer decided she needed a break.

On Sunday, Gary Stevens rides In the Stars, whose physical condition and easier company make her the logical choice.

“She looks really good right now,” Mandella said, adding “I would think she would run pretty good.”

That remark can be interpreted as a full-fledged endorsement for In the Stars, who has won 3 of 12.

I Dazzle moves up in class for new trainer Sadler and switches to Rafael Bejarano after a second-level allowance win, while Moone’s My Name makes her U.S. debut for Sadler after winning 6 of 17 in Europe.

Garrett Gomez will ride.

Byrony finished last in the Buena Vista, but finished second in front of In the Stars two starts back.