03/21/2009 11:00PM

Visit may find herself overextended


ARCADIA, Calif. - Visit will meet eight rivals and two significant hurdles to clear in the Grade 2 Santa Ana Handicap on Sunday at Santa Anita.

Based on her third-place finish in the Grade 1 Matriarch in November, and fourth in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf in October, Visit stands out as the class of the $150,000 Santa Ana. However, she is challenged by distance and murky form.

At 1 1/8 miles, the Santa Ana is a stretch. "A mile is probably her best distance," trainer Bobby Frankel admits. Furthermore, Visit enters the Santa Ana off a mysterious sixth-place comeback Feb. 14 on the main track.

"When they run that bad, you always wonder," Frankel said.

He has lightened her training since then, and if Visit reproduces top form in her return to grass, she should score her third career win under Garrett Gomez.

"It's amazing she's a two-other-than," Frankel said.

Visit has won two races and $356,014 from 10 starts for owner-breeder Juddmonte Farms, while facing top-class competition. Her Santa Ana rivals are a couple of notches below.

The field for the Santa Ana includes Belmont Cat, an allowance-caliber New Zealand-bred who disappointed in her most recent start Jan. 4; Satan's Circus, Grade 1-placed and stretching out following a sprint prep; and Bel Air Sizzle, wheeled back one week after finishing third in a Cal-bred turf sprint.

If she reproduces her grass form, Visit should win. If she sputters like she did in her comeback on the main track, the Santa Ana is anyone's race, including Belmont Cat.

John Sadler trains Belmont Cat, who scored an impressive U.S. debut victory Dec. 3, then was flat Jan. 4 in the Grade 2 San Gorgonio. Assistant trainer Larry Benavidez hopes she had an alibi.

"You hope it's the bounce factor," he said. "And the first time she ran, she was covered up. The second time she was outside and did not relax."

Bel Air Sizzle is wheeling back on short notice. Even before her third-place finish one week ago in a turf sprint, trainer Barry Abrams planned on a quick turnaround in the Santa Ana.

"She ran good, and came out of the race in good shape," Abrams said, while admitting that "I'm basically running for second or third."

Other starters include In My Glory, Sharp Susan, Eissoai, Exquisite, and Dawn After Dawn.