04/15/2010 11:00PM

Tuscan Evening sure of herself


ARCADIA, Calif. - The perfection that Tuscan Evening has displayed with three stakes wins this year has gone to her head.

"The more she wins, the more confidence she gets," said Dan Ward, assistant trainer to Jerry Hollendorfer.

Tuscan Evening will be heavily favored to win her fourth consecutive graded stakes in Saturday's $150,000 Santa Barbara Handicap over 1 1/4 miles on turf for fillies and mares at Santa Anita.

Tuscan Evening is considered such a standout that the Santa Barbara Handicap is being run as the fourth race, and not part of the pick six, which covers the fifth through 10th races.

The Grade 2 Santa Barbara will be a different test for Tuscan Evening, a 5-year-old mare owned by William de Burgh. Her three stakes wins at the meeting - the Monrovia, Buena Vista, and Santa Ana handicaps - have been run at distances ranging from about 6 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/8 miles on turf. She has never started over 1 1/4 miles on turf.

Tuscan Evening has won 4 of her last 5 starts, with the only loss a second to Ventura in the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes over a mile on turf at Hollywood Park in November.

Tuscan Evening has the ability to lead throughout or stalk Medaglia d'Amour, who is making her stakes debut in the Santa Barbara. Cat by the Tale, second in the Santa Ana Handicap after stalking Tuscan Evening, can race near the front.

"I think [Medgalia d'Amour] will show speed," Ward said. "It hasn't mattered with Tuscan Evening coming off the pace or going to the lead. She finishes the same."

Medaglia d'Amour is one of two runners in the field trained by Ben Cecil. Medaglia d'Amour beat maidens on Feb. 11 and won a first-condition allowance race on March 14, both over a mile on turf.

"She can run," Cecil said.

Cecil also starts Restless Soul, the winner of the Yerba Buena Handicap over 1 3/8 miles on turf at Golden Gate Fields in 2009. The race also features General Consensus, who was third in the Santa Ana, and Eclair de Lune, who was stakes-placed in France in 2009.

Eclair de Lune was fourth in an optional claimer on March 18, her U.S. debut.

"I think it's a good distance for her," trainer Ron McAnally said. "She doesn't have speed. She just keeps coming."