Grade I winner Teddy’s Promise
heads a nine-horse field in Saturday’s
Grade II, $250,000 Santa Monica Stakes for older fillies and mares at
seven furlongs, one of six stakes offered on Sunshine Millions Day as
part of a 10-race program.
A winner of the Grade I La Brea Stakes in Dec., 2011, Teddy’s
Promise comes off a big 5 ¼ length score on a wet fast track as the 3-2
favorite in the Kalookan Queen Stakes going 6 ½ furlongs on Dec. 29—a
race that more than anything else, could serve as a confidence builder
for the 5-year-old California-bred mare by Salt Lake.
One start prior to the Kalookan Queen, “Teddy” ran eighth,
beaten 15 ½ lengths when breaking from the rail in the Grade I Breeders’
Cup Filly and Mare Sprint on Nov. 3.
“She’s come back and done well since the Breeders’ Cup,” said
winning trainer Ron Ellis after the Kalookan Queen win. “I felt pretty
good about her today…It was very encouraging.”
Owned and bred by Ted and Judy Nichols, Teddy’s Promise drew
post four in a nine-horse field for Saturday’s Santa Monica. Given the
fact she has an aversion to running inside of other horses, it may be
incumbent upon jockey Victor Espinoza to use her from the gate in order
to secure an outside position to the far turn.
“When she’s inside, she doesn’t always like it,” said Espinoza
following the Kalookan Queen, a race in which she drew post five in a
Teddy’s Promise has an impressive resume, as her overall record
is 20-7-2-1, with earnings of $484,981. She is 6-2-0-0 at seven
Without question, the speed of the Santa Monica field is the up
and coming Kindle, who is drawn in post position eight. Trained by Gary
Mandella, she comes off a huge second coming down the hillside turf
course in the Grade II Monrovia Stakes going 6 ½ furlongs on Jan. 6.
A 5-year-old mare by Indian Charlie, Kindle rocketed from the
gate and led until the shadow of the wire, losing to Breeders’ Cup Turf
Sprint winner Mizdirection by what many thought was a neck, but was
called a half-length.
Untried at seven furlongs, Kindle should pose an elusive target
on the lead with Edwin Maldonado. Owned by HnR Nothhaft Horse Racing,
LLC, she has a mark of 9-4-3-0 and earnings of $173,370. She has one
win from four tries on natural dirt.
Favored in her last three starts, the Bob Baffert-trained
Distracting ran second at 8-5 in the 1 1/16 miles Paseana Handicap on
Jan. 13. Although she cuts back in distance, the lightly raced
4-year-old filly by Distorted Humor figures to be close to the Santa
Monica pace under regular pilot Rafael Bejarano.
Owned by her breeders, Hill “n” Dale Equine Holdings, Inc. & McGhee, is 4-2-2-0, with $86,300 in earnings.
Like Kindle, Byrama exits three consecutive turf sprints, with
her most recent a fourth-place run in the Monrovia Stakes. With
Bejarano aboard Distracting, Byrama will be ridden for the first time by
comebacking Hall of Famer Gary Stevens.
Well thought of throughout her career, it is expected that
Byrama will fall far off the early Santa Monica pace and come with a big
run under Stevens. Owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Byrama will
be making her first start on natural dirt Saturday. She has earnings
of $243,634 from an overall mark of 14-4-3-4. A 4-year-old English-bred
filly, she is conditioned by Simon Callaghan.
Like Teddy’s Promise, the Steve Asmussen-trained Belle of the
Hall was well beaten in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, but
she has solid graded stakes-placed credentials to her credit. With a
record of 9-2-1-2 at seven furlongs, she is no stranger to the distance
or the main track.
With a fast early pace likely, Belle of the Hall should be well
of the pace in the Santa Monica. Owned by Dixiana Farms, LLC, she has
an overall mark of 23-6-2-2 and earnings of $493,170.
The complete field for the Santa Monica, which will be run as
the eighth race, with jockey and weights in post position order:
Journaliste, Garrett Gomez, 118; Distracting, Rafael Bejarano, 118;
Sugarinthemorning, Martin Garcia, 118; Teddy’s Promise, Victor Espinoza,
118; Belle of the Hall, Corey Nakatani, 118; Byrama, Gary Stevens, 118;
Rumor, Mike Smith, 118; Kindle, Edwin Maldonado, 118, and Pink
Lollipops, Joe Talamo, 118.