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Pontchatrain Shoots for Hat Trick in Monrovia

Pontchatrain - Benoit Photo.
Trainer Tom Proctor and jockey Gary Stevens, who enjoyed considerable success throughout 2013, will try to get the New Year rolling in Sunday’s Grade II, $200,000 Monrovia Stakes with the talented filly Pontchatrain, who is in search of her third consecutive win as she faces nine rivals coming down Santa Anita’s 6 ½ furlong Camino Real Turf Course.

A winner of the $82,000 Unzip Me Stakes on Sept. 28, the 4-year-old Kentucky-bred filly by War Chant came to back earn a career best 92 Beyer Speed figure in annexing the Grade III Senator Ken Maddy Stakes down the hill on Nov. 2 as the 2-1 favorite.

Handled by Stevens on both occasions, she was attentive to the pace in both races and has been in steady training for Proctor since her last win, with her most recent work a bullet five furlongs at Santa Anita of 59 flat, best of 37 at the distance.

Owned by Leonard Lavin’s Glen Hill Farm, Pontchatrain has four wins and a third from six starts and earnings of $204,882.

In addition to Pontchtrain, Proctor will also saddle talented Purim’s Dancer, who gave the comebacking Stevens his second added-money win of 2013 when she won the restricted Wishing Well Stakes down the hill on Feb. 10.  A 5-year-old mare by the Dynaformer stallion Purim, she has four wins from six tries down the hillside and was fifth, beaten just 1 ¾ lengths by Pontchtrain in the Maddy Nov. 2.

Purim’s Dancer, owned by Doug Donnelly, Corey Johnson, Lenny Kohn and Gene McLean, will be ridden Sunday by Joe Talamo, who guided her to a starter allowance win down the hill on Oct. 26, 2012.  She has five wins, a second and two thirds from 11 starts and earnings of $183,200.


There is no arguing that the speed of the Monrovia field is the Gary Mandella-trained Kindle.  A breathtakingly fast 6-year-old mare by Indian Charlie, she opened up a commanding lead in last year’s Monrovia and was tagged late by eventual two-time Breeder’s Cup Sprint Champ Mizdirection.  Although the official margin of Kindle’s defeat was a half length, trackside consensus had the margin much closer to a head or neck.

Idle since running third in the Grade II Santa Monica on the main track Jan. 26, Rafael Bejarano will ride Kindle for the first time Sunday and attempt to ration her high octane fuel supply.  Owned by HnR Nothhaft Horse Racing, LLC, Kindle has two second place finishes from as many tries down the hill and is 10-4-3-1 overall with earnings of $203,370.

Trainer Simon Callaghan’s Judy In Disguise will break from the rail with Martin Garcia and she comes off a sharp second to multiple Grade I winner Teddy’s Promise in the $100,000 Play Del Rey Stakes at Hollywood Park Dec. 15.  Third, beaten 1 ½ lengths by Pontchtrain in the Maddy Nov. 2, she has a win and a third from three tries over the course.

Owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, English-bred Judy In Disguise is 15-4-3-3 overall with earnings of $173,404.


Spendthrift Farm’s homebred Winding Way, second, beaten a length by Pontchtrain in the Maddy, is quick from the gate and draws the advantageous outside post on Sunday.  With Bejarano opting to ride Kindle, she’ll be ridden for the first time by Victor Espinoza.  She has two wins, two seconds and a third from 10 starts with earnings of $191,938.      

Trainer John Sadler’s Sky High Gal, freshened since running fourth, beaten 1 ½ lengths by Pontchtrain in the Maddy, will be handled for the first time by Corey Nakatani and he’ll likely try to avoid a front-end tussle with Kindle.  Owned by Hronis Racing, LLC, the 4-year-old filly by Leroidesanimaux has three wins and a second from six starts and earnings of $126,333.

The complete field for the Monrovia Stakes, which will be run as the eighth race on a nine-race program Sunday, with jockeys and weights in post position order:  Judy In Disguise, Martin Garcia, 118; Kindle, Rafael Bejarano, 118; Purim’s Dancer, Joe Talamo, 118; Golden Production, Edwin Maldonado, 118; Ciao Bella Luna, Martin Pedroza, 120; Sky High Gal, Corey Nakatani, 118; Ultrasonic, Mike Smith, 118; Pontchatrain, Gary Stevens, 118; Camryn Kate, Tyler Baze, 118, and Winding Way, Victor Espinoza, 118.




 

 

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