01/13/2012 2:18PM

Santa Anita: Vision in Gold good to go for Ellis

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Benoit & Associates
Vision in Gold, with Joel Rosario up, wins the Santa Maria.

ARCADIA, Calif. – There is no time for a warm-up race for Vision in Gold this winter at Santa Anita. When she starts in Sunday’s $75,000 Paseana Handicap for fillies and mares, trainer Ron Ellis insists that the 5-year-old mare will be prepared for both the one-mile race, and graded stakes in February and March.

“In the past, she has taken a race to come along,” Ellis said. “As far as I’m concerned, she’s ready, even for a two-turn race.”

“That’s one of the reasons I put so much work in here, because she’ll have to come right back. I want to make sure she’s done enough to be ready.”

Owned by Samantha Siegel, Vision in Gold won the Grade 2 Santa Maria Stakes last February and was third in the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Stakes in March.

After the Santa Margarita, Vision in Gold was taken out of training to have a non-displaced bone chip removed from an ankle. “She was drifting out in the stretch and it wasn’t like her,” Ellis said.

In recent weeks, Vision in Gold has worked quickly, including six furlongs in 1:11.20 at Hollywood Park on Jan. 4. In coming months, she is a candidate for the $200,000 Santa Maria Stakes on Feb. 18 and the $300,000 Santa Margarita Stakes on March 17.

In the Paseana, Vision in Gold is one of three fillies carrying top weight of 121 pounds, along with Ellafitz, the winner of the Grade 2 Bayakoa Handicap at Hollywood Park on Dec. 4, and Briecat, a 7-year-old mare and multiple stakes winner.

Ellafitz is expected to set the pace, which could work against her if she faces pressure from Spirit Seeker, a former $40,000 claimer.

“She just takes them as far as she can,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “She’s fast, one-dimensional. She’ll either run first or last.”

Briecat, who breaks from the outside, can lead, but is likely to stalk the pace, trainer Vladimir Cerin said. Briecat won the Cool Air Stakes over six furlongs on turf at Hollywood Park on Dec. 7, closing from fifth in a field of seven.

“There is a lot of speed, and for Briecat, after her last race, it doesn’t seem like she needs the lead,” Cerin said.

Owned by David and Holly Wilson, Briecat has won 10 of 29 starts and $627,567, the highest money-winner in the field.