Byrama Likely Wishing Well Favorite

Coming off a pair of solid efforts in graded stakes that followed a stakes victory over the layout, British-bred Byrama is the likely favorite among a contentious field of twelve fillies and mares set to contest Sunday’s 9th running of the $75,000 Wishing Well Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs over Santa Anita’s downhill turf course.

Rafael Bejarano, the meet’s leading rider who escorted Byrama in her last three starts, will be back aboard the 4-year-old filly trained by Simon Callaghan for Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners.

Byrama posted her second win in as many starts over the unique turf sprint configuration when victorious in Santa Anita’s Unzip Me Stakes last Sept 29. She subsequently lost by three-quarters of a length to Broken Dreams when third in the Grade III Senator Ken Maddy Stakes on Oct. 12. She closed well to finish fourth behind Mizdirection in the Grade II Monrovia Stakes on Jan. 6, her last start.

A repeat of any of those three showings could make her tough to deny in the Wishing Well. And Byrama is seldom far away at the wire. With a 4-3-4 record in 14 career starts that have earned $243,634, the daughter of Byron has never finished worse than fourth.

Her competition on Sunday includes Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella’s Rumor, who has been freshened since running fifth behind Groupie Doll in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at seven furlongs over Santa Anita’s main track on Nov. 3. With earnings of $324,188 from a 5-4-1 log in 12 career starts, Rumor is the most accomplished runner in the lineup.

But the Wishing Well will mark only her second start on turf. She finished second as the odds-on favorite in a previous try over the course, a first-level allowance race on April 15 of 2011.

The 5-year-old Indian Charlie mare, who often is given extended down time between starts, has a history of big races off the bench. Rumor has hit the board in all six starts that followed freshenings, and she scored by 6 ¾ lengths in her maiden debut on New Year’s Eve of 2010. Mike Smith rides the Kentucky-bred owned by Ramona Bass, Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider.

Another Indian Charlie offspring, 4-year-old Nechez Dawn, will be making her first start over the downhill course for trainer Jeff Bonde and Ten Broeck Farm with Garrett Gomez in the saddle.

The well-traveled but relatively lightly-raced filly has competed at seven different tracks during an eight-race career that has generated earnings of $173,400 from four wins and a runner-up finish. This will be her second start at Santa Anita.

Nechez Dawn competed in the Grade I La Brea Stakes on the meet’s opening day, Dec. 26, and contested the early pace before fading to fifth in the seven-furlong contest over a wet-fast main track. She has won 4 of 5 starts on grass including the $97,000 Daisycutter Handicap going five furlongs at Del Mar last Aug. 10.

Bob Baffert, the meet’s leading trainer, will try Candrea on grass for the first time with Martin Garcia aboard. The 4-year-old Trippi filly finished a close fourth in the La Brea at odds of 41-1. She has won 3 of 12 starts for Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman while earning $183,550.

One month into his comeback, Hall of Famer Gary Stevens will ride Purim’s Dancer, who has captured both of her starts over the downhill turf course for trainer Tom Proctor.

French-bred Givine, who will be handled by Tyler Baze, will be seeking her first win from three tries in the Wishing Well. The gray mare, trained by Julio Canani for Marsha Naify, finished fourth last year after checking in a distant eighth when favored in the 2011 Wishing Well.

The complete field, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Byrama, Rafael Bejarano, 120; Rumor, Mike Smith, 120; Curvy Cat, Corey Nakatani, 116; Sizzling Gold, Agapito Delgadillo, 120; Nechez Dawn, Garrett Gomez, 120; Madera Castana, Victor Carrero, 116; Givine, Tyler Baze, 116; Candrea, Martin Garcia, 118; Jet Blue Girl, Julien Leparoux, 118; Purim’s Dancer, Gary Stevens, 118; Schiaparelli, Joe Talamo, 116, and Dancingtothestars, Mario Gutierrez, 120. Also eligible: Unkept Rendezvous, Brice Blanc, 116.



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