Updated on 09/16/2011 6:45AM

The Seven Seas returns

Benoit & Associates
Away since September, The Seven Seas tries to regroup Friday in a tough Reloy Handicap.

ARCADIA, Calif. - The Seven Seas threw in such a clunker finishing seventh in the Yellow Ribbon Stakes last September that trainer Bobby Frankel knew there had to be an explanation.

The puzzle was solved when The Seven Seas was diagnosed with an entrapped epiglottis that kept her from breathing properly.

Four months later, following surgery to correct the problem, The Seven Seas returns in Friday's $75,000 Reloy Handicap at Santa Anita. "She's been operated on and she's fine," Frankel said.

The Seven Seas is returning in a strong race. Run over 1 1/4 miles on turf, the Reloy Handicap has drawn a field of eight. The top contenders include Nepenthe, the winner of the Waya Handicap at Hollywood Park last month; Vencera, who has placed in four stakes in the last 14 months; and Slow Down, the winner of the Hillsborough Handicap at Bay Meadows in October.

Despite her poor performance in the Yellow Ribbon, The Seven Seas is the likely favorite. Last year, she was first or second in four other starts, including a win in the Estrapade Stakes at Hollywood Park in July and a second in the Grade 1 Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington Park a month later.

Frankel envisions similar success this year. To win the Reloy, The Seven Seas will need an honest pace to develop early.

Flying With Mimi, a longshot, has little chance unless she leads throughout. She will be closely followed by Dispersed Reward, a stakes winner over a mile on turf at Calder last year.

That pair will be pursued by Nepenthe, a dangerous stalker who won two marathon turf stakes last year, and Vencera, who is trying 1 1/4 miles for the first time. Tropical Lady, a Group 2 winner at 1 1/4 miles on dirt in Brazil in 2000, will be farther back, with The Seven Seas and Slow Down.

Slow Down placed in two turf stakes at 1 1/16 miles after the Hillsborough Handicap win. Her trainer, Richard Mandella, has been anxious to try her over longer distances, hoping to duplicate her allowance win over 1 1/4 miles on turf in France in 2000.

"She ran well in those races in San Francisco," Mandella said. "I've been wanting to try 1 1/4 miles. This is a good chance to try it.

"She does her best by coming from behind over 1 1/16 miles. A mile and a quarter could be a different pace scenario. I'd prefer not to change too much."

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