01/26/2012 3:39PM

Santa Anita: Teddy's Promise stronger than ever for Santa Monica

Benoit & Associates
Teddy's Promise, with Victor Espinoza riding, wins the La Brea.

ARCADIA, Calif. – The numbers tell the story about the rapid development of Teddy’s Promise.

Four months ago, Teddy’s Promise ended a five-race losing streak with a win in an optional claimer at the Santa Anita Autumn meeting. When Teddy’s Promise starts as the favorite in Saturday’s $300,000 Santa Monica Stakes at Santa Anita, the 4-year-old filly can win her fourth consecutive race, and second straight Grade 1.

“It’s been great,” trainer Ron Ellis said. “It’s unusual to see things going so well.”

Owned by breeders Ted and Judy Nichols, Teddy’s Promise won her first stakes in the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes for 3-year-old fillies over seven furlongs on Dec. 31, closing from fifth in a field of nine to win by a convincing 2 1/4 lengths. She drew the outside post in that race and gave jockey Victor Espinoza an ideal trip.

[SANTA ANITA: Watch video previews and see Saturday's full card live]

The setup of the seven-furlong Santa Monica for older fillies and mares may be more of a challenge. Teddy’s Promise, who has raced from a stalking position in her current winning streak, is drawn in post 3 in a field of seven, one position to the inside of expected pacesetter Home Sweet Aspen.

The draw gives Ellis a slight concern. He is hopeful that Teddy’s Promise can be patient for Espinoza on the backstretch and not get into a duel with Home Sweet Aspen, who will be ridden by Joel Rosario. Home Sweet Aspen, a minor stakes winner here in the fall, set the pace in the La Brea and faded to finish fourth.

“I would have preferred to have drawn outside of Home Sweet Aspen,” Ellis said. “We’ll have to see how it goes. Hopefully, Rosario and my guy ride smart races and they both hang around.”

Ellis is confident in Teddy’s Promise’s ability at Santa Anita. The win in an optional claimer in October, the first victory of the winning streak, was similar to the La Brea in which she stalked the pace and pulled clear late.

“I think she really likes that track,” Ellis said. “Her two races at Santa Anita were incredible.”

The Santa Monica drew a field of seven, and five of the fillies and mares are stakes winners.

Rumor, the winner of the Kalookan Queen Handicap over 6 1/2 furlongs on Jan. 1, makes her Grade 1 debut and is a threat to Teddy’s Promise.

Trained by Richard Mandella for a partnership, Rumor has won 4 of 7 starts and her last two starts. The Kalookan Queen Handicap was her first race since a win in the CERF Stakes at Del Mar in September.

“She had a good race back,” Mandella said. “We’re anxious to see if she can step up to a Grade 1. This is a good spot.”

Big Tiz, second in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet in 2010, and the 7-year-old She’s Cheeky, the oldest mare in the field, have yet to win stakes. The stakes winners Bella Diamante, fourth in the Kalookan Queen Handicap, and Sugarinthemorning, second in the La Brea, need career-best races to win.

Big Tiz was third behind Rumor in the Kalookan Queen Handicap. She’s Cheeky was third in the 2009 Santa Monica Stakes, and is winless in 14 starts since an allowance race in December 2008. During the losing streak, she has been second or third in four stakes other than the 2009 Santa Monica.

“It’s a matter of fact there is always one better than her,” trainer Peter Eurton said.

She’s Cheeky has not started since a second in the Grade 3 Rancho Bernardo Handicap at Del Mar last August. The Santa Monica will be her 23rd start, and first on dirt. She has raced primarily on California’s synthetic tracks, with four starts on turf.