01/18/2013 2:01PM

Steve Klein: Lady of Fifty will be tough in La Canada off her best

Shigeki Kikkawa
Lady of Fifty draws off to win her last start, the Grade 2 Bayakoa Handicap at Hollywood Park.

It didn’t take long for me to find a filly to like in the Grade 2 La Canada, a $150,000 stakes for 4-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles on dirt at Santa Anita on Sunday.

Lady of Fifty spent six months on the sidelines, from March to September. She finished third in an allowance at Golden Gate in her comeback, then improved when she finished a closer third in the L.A. Woman at Santa Anita. She took another step forward when she stretched out from 6 1/2 furlongs to a mile and won the Palm Springs there as a 12-1 longshot.

Despite the class jump, Lady of Fifty received much more respect last time at 3-1 in the Grade 2 Bayakoa. She had an unusual trip. She showed tactical speed, then abruptly lost three positions and a couple of lengths when she checked while rank at the end of the first turn. She rallied strongly four wide, then drew off down the stretch to win by 3 1/4 lengths. Factor in the trouble, and she’ll be hard to deny if she runs as well in this compact field.

More Chocolate has raced exclusively on turf, but she shows a pair of swift workouts on this main track, so a good performance would be no surprise. She tired late last time and finished a solid third, 2 1/2 lengths behind the impressive Qaraaba, and 1 1/4 lengths behind Tiz Flirtatious in the Grade 3 Robert J. Frankel. She’s eligible to improve in her second race after a break of nearly two months. She could be the betting value.

Open Water finished between 1 1/4 and 3 1/4 lengths behind the winner in two Grade 1’s, two Grade 2’s, and a Grade 3 in her last five races. She closed with good late energy while finishing second as a 10-1 longshot behind Lady of Fifty last time at Hollywood in the Bayakoa. She finished third at Santa Anita in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes in her lone local dirt start, so the track switch shouldn’t be an issue.

Book Review should be well-supported. She won the $400,000 Charles Town Oaks four races ago, then ran a fast race when she earned a 96 Beyer as the 4 1/2-length winner of the restricted Imperial Gesture at Belmont. She wasn’t as fast while checking in fifth of seven in the Grade 1 Gazelle two races ago, or while winning a three-horse photo last time in the Grade 1, seven-furlong La Brea, but she still figures to be a major player in this spot. Note that she was assisted by the fast 44.17-second and 1:08.89 pace splits when she gained vs. tiring rivals in a 13.52 last furlong in the La Brea.

I’ll key Lady of Fifty on top in the exacta over More Chocolate, Open Water, and Book Review. Value-oriented bettors are encouraged to be more aggressive with the first two combinations. I’ll also bet my best value filly, More Chocolate, to win.

Gulfstream Park: Kitten’s Joy Stakes

The $100,000 Kitten’s Joy, a 1 1/16-mile turf stakes for 3-year-olds, is the featured race at Gulfstream.

Charming Kitten, one of three sons of Kitten’s Joy in this field, is the only runner in this group showing a top-three finish against stakes company. In fact, he owns two of them. He finished a contending third in the Grade 2 With Anticipation at Saratoga three races ago, and was a close second at Gulfstream last time in the $100,000 Dania Beach.

He has shown tactical speed in three of his four races, and would benefit if he is asked to do so again on a turf course that helps horses with that running style.

Flying Bird is 2 for 2 on grass, and deserves respect following an allowance win at Churchill in November. He has more tactical speed than he showed last time.

Fire Guard is worthy of consideration after winning a maiden special at Tampa. His front-running style is usually a plus on this course, but he was helped by a slow pace in that victory. It’s also a concern that he figures to have company on – or close to – the lead in this race. The addition of Lasix can boost his chances.

Bambazonki was on a roll with wins in both of his grass races, then headed to the sidelines after his Oct. 19 allowance victory at Keeneland. He can find his way into the mix in the exotics if he is ready to pick up where he left off in his return.

I’ll bet Charming Kitten to win, and I’ll key him over Flying Bird, Fire Guard, and Bambazonki in the exacta.