04/07/2011 2:26PM

Santa Anita's Las Cienegas has heavy favorite in Unzip Me


ARCADIA, Calif. − Unzip Me has earned the 127-pound assignment she will carry in Saturday’s $100,000 Las Cienegas Handicap at Santa Anita.

The 5-year-old mare has five wins in six starts over about 6 1/2 furlongs on Santa Anita’s hillside turf course, the same course as the Grade 3 Las Cienegas. She has won two stakes on the hillside this year and will be heavily favored in the Las Cienegas.

“I’m not really thrilled with the weight, but that’s what happens when you win all the races,” trainer Marty Jones said. “It is what it is. She’s a special horse. She found her niche sprinting on the turf. I feel good about her.”

Owned by a partnership, Unzip Me has won 11 of 18 starts and $704,803. She has won 9 of 13 on turf, including a third against males in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs last fall. The 127 pounds is the highest assignment of her career.

Unzip Me is one of three 2011 stakes winners in the field, joined by It Tiz, who won the Megahertz Stakes on Jan. 23, and La Nez, who won the Irish O’Brien Stakes on March 19.

Unzip Me tends to run near the front and could face early pressure from Separate Forest, who makes a quick turnaround after winning an allowance race on the hillside turf course April 2.

The Las Cienegas will be the first start on turf in more than a year for Tanda, who won two sprint stakes last year and was third in the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park last June in her most recent start.

Tanda was being prepared for both the La Brea Stakes in December and the Santa Monica Stakes in January when she was sidelined by foot issues.

“We were ready to run in the La Brea and she had a foot abscess,” trainer Dan Hendricks said. The same thing occurred before the Santa Monica “She got right up to the race and foot flared up on her,” Hendricks said.