Updated on 01/24/2013 8:38PM

Santa Anita: Teddy's Promise sharp for Santa Monica

Tom Keyser
Teddy's Promise would prefer an outside post but will start in the middle of the gate in the Santa Monica.

ARCADIA, Calif. – When she races outside horses and in the clear, Teddy’s Promise is among the top female sprinters in California. Other times, not so much.

Teddy’s Promise will enter the gate Saturday at Santa Anita as the deserving favorite in the Grade 2 Santa Monica Stakes, race 8, but her shot to win the seven-furlong race was not enhanced at the draw – post four in a field of nine.

“She does prefer the outside, there’s no question,” trainer Ron Ellis admitted. “I would have preferred to draw outside [front-runner Kindle].”

Post might not be a deal breaker for Teddy’s Promise anyway, based on her most recent start and outstanding works. Winner of the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes a year ago, Teddy’s Promise returned to form Dec. 29 by crushing a minor stakes. She has thrived since.

“Since that race, she has been working better than she ever has,” Ellis said and called her Jan. 19 workout “freakish.”

Teddy’s Promise faces a decent field in the $250,000 Santa Monica. Her rivals include likely pacesetter Kindle, stakes winners Rumor and Sugarinthemorning, lightly raced Distracting, and Belle of the Hall, fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.

Others include Southern American import Journaliste, turf specialist Byrama, and Pink Lollipops. The Santa Monica will help define a local female sprint division that needs a boost. Reneesgotzip is out of training and aiming for a summer-fall campaign; La Brea winner Book Review is now a route filly; My Miss Aurelia is expected to target a route.

Teddy’s Promise, owned by breeders Ted and Judy Nichols, is a rightful heir to divisional leadership. And if jockey Victor Espinoza gets her to the outside, the Santa Monica is hers to lose.

“She actually relaxed really well the other day,” Ellis said, referring to a blowout in the Kalookan Queen Stakes. “I’m really encouraged. She wasn’t rank at all.”

Teddy’s Promise has won seven races and $484,981 from 20 starts, including her last-out romp on “wet-fast.”

The storm that arrived Thursday could stay through the weekend, which would not bother Kindle’s trainer, Gary Mandella. “The more it rains, the happier I am,” he said.

Mandella’s optimism regarding surface is based largely on pedigree – Kindle was sired by Indian Charlie, out of a mare by Carson City.

Kindle is bred for mud. As for distance, that remains a challenge.

A speedball front-runner, Kindle finished second to Mizdirection last out in a downhill turf sprint. The Santa Monica will determine the 2013 campaign for Kindle, specifically related to the seven-furlong distance.

“If you dream you have a Breeders’ Cup horse, you have to try it,” Mandella said. “For her to get seven-eighths, she can’t go 21, 43.”

Kindle has won four of nine and will get a short break after the Santa Monica.

The Saturday stake will also determine the campaign for another Indian Charlie mare trained by a Mandella. Rumor, trained by Richard Mandella, has won 5 of 12.

“She doesn’t have to stay in training,” Richard Mandella said. “The owners would like to keep her in training. We’ll see how she comes back.”

Rumor finished fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint last out and is seeking her first graded stakes win.

Belle of the Hall was subsequently purchased at auction for $230,000 and will make her first start for trainer Steve Asmussen. Though she is a wet-track specialist (two wins, one second), Asmussen said the race is a starting point.

“I like how she is coming into the race, and I think there is more to her,” Asmussen said.