04/11/2009 11:00PM

Tuscan Evening looks like quality speed


ARCADIA, Calif. - There are established stakes fillies and mares such as Dawn After Dawn, Bel Air Sizzle, and Gotta Have Her in Sunday's $100,000 Las Cienegas Handicap at Santa Anita - and then there is Tuscan Evening.

This year, Tuscan Evening is unbeaten in two starts over about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course, the same course and distance as the Grade 3 Las Cienegas. What Tuscan Evening lacks is experience against tougher competition in this country. What she has is the speed to lead throughout Sunday's race, which has drawn a field of nine fillies and mares.

Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, she does not appear to be a one-dimensional filly. In Europe last year, she stalked the pace in several races, including her second-place finish, at 66-1, in the Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas. She placed in four stakes in Ireland as a 2-year-old from May to August and tracked the leaders in several race.

"I think she's been going to the lead because she's the best horse," said Dan Ward, Hollendorfer's assistant. "When we've worked her behind, she's had no trouble at all. I think Tuscan Evening will run in a race someday with speed and she will have no problem sitting off the pace."

Tuscan Evening beat maidens by five lengths on Jan. 22 and won a first-condition allowance race by 3 3/4 lengths on Feb. 28. "She's very happy," Ward said. "She's put on weight and she's filled out."

Dawn After Dawn will not be far behind Tuscan Evening in the first half-mile. Trained by John Sadler, Dawn After Dawn is best as a stalker, a style she used to win the Wishing Well Handicap on the hillside turf course in January and the Moscow Burning Stakes over a mile on turf on March 13. She has won 4 of 6 starts on turf in her 22-race career.

"Our filly is the proven horse," Sadler said. "What I wanted to do this year was get her back on grass. She's very versatile. She can run up to a mile and a sixteenth."

Gotta Have Her won the Harold Ramser Handicap here in October 2007, and was second in three stakes last year. She was a convincing winner of an allowance race on the hillside turf course on March 6.

Bel Air Sizzle won the Valentine Dancer Handicap over a mile on turf in February and was second in her hillside debut in the Irish O'Brien Stakes on March 15.