01/11/2009 12:00AM

Ysabel will launch filly hopefuls


ARCADIA, Calif. - The Santa Anita 3-year-old filly division is quietly growing stronger, and when Stardom Bound returns next month in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes, she will face a stiff challenge in her first start since winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Improving stakes winners Saucey Evening and Navigator already are targeting the Las Virgenes; the field for that Feb. 7 race will expand Sunday when nine others race 1 1/16 miles in the Grade 3, $100,000 Santa Ysabel.

The 0-for-2 maiden Lady Lumberjack and maiden winner Haka are leading contenders in a Santa Ysabel that includes Hollywood Starlet third-place finisher Toro Bonito, Golden Gate stakes winner Will O Way, and turf-to-dirt longshot Century Park.

Though she is the only maiden and has never raced two turns, Lady Lumberjack will start as one of the favorites after a fast (83 Beyer) runner-up finish in a seven-furlong maiden race Nov. 29 at Hollywood Park. But can a daughter of Forestry stay two turns?

"She doesn't have the body of a sprinter, she has the body of a router," trainer Julio Canani said.

Lady Lumberjack finished seven lengths clear of third in her most recent start, and has worked well over the Santa Anita surface.

Bob Baffert entered Toro Bonito, Century Park, and Jemmealey. "I like 'em all - they're all tough," he said.

They race as separate wagering interests, and though Toro Bonito has faced better, Baffert is particularly excited about Century Park's first start on Pro-Ride.

"She works so well" on Pro-Ride, Baffert said. "She really works like a good horse. If she runs well on it, I'll run her in the series," referring to the Las Virgenes and Santa Anita Oaks.

Century Park has won 1 of 6; three races were on turf, three on Polytrack at Del Mar.

Jemmealey makes her first start for Baffert, and first since November.

"Does she need a race? No, she's doing well," Baffert said. "She is better than Toro Bonito in the morning, but everyone is better than Toro Bonito in the morning."

The wild card is Haka, who parlayed a soft trip to a runaway maiden win three weeks ago at Hollywood Park. A daughter of Dynaformer out of a Mr. Prospector mare, she will be ridden by Garrett Gomez. Christophe Clemente trains.