Miller duo to challenge Selcourt in Santa Anita's Las Cienegas

Mike Willman, Santa Anita
January 08, 2019 08:48pm
Miller duo to challenge Selcourt in Santa Anita's Las Cienegas
Photo: Zoe Metz Photography

Trainer Peter Miller appears to be holding a pair of aces at 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course as Belvoir Bay and Painting Corners head a field of nine older distaffers in Saturday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Las Cienegas Stakes. Throw in John Sadler’s lightning quick Selcourt, a multiple graded stakes winner who tries turf for the first time, and the Las Cienegas has the look of a deep and competitive affair.  


Owner: Team Valor International & Gary Barber                                        

Trainer: Peter Miller


A four-time graded stakes winner over the hillside turf, this 6-year-old English-bred mare has been on the road in her last two starts, finishing a close fifth in a Grade 1, six furlong turf stakes at Woodbine June 30 and second, beaten three quarters of a length as the 5-2 favorite, in a Grade 3 stakes at Keeneland going 5 ½ furlongs on turf Oct. 12.  Freshened and reunited with Flavien Prat, Belvoir Bay, who is 22: 9-4-2 overall with earnings of $582,167, is strictly the horse to beat on Saturday.  


Owner: Altimira Racing Stable & Slam Dunk Racing                                    

Trainer: Peter Miller


Second, beaten 1 ¾ lengths after opening up through white-hot splits of 20.80, 42.20 and 1:05.80 in the Grade 3 Senator Ken Maddy Stakes down the hill Nov. 3, this 5-year-old Florida-bred mare by Pleasant Strike will be handled on Saturday by Joel Rosario, who will no doubt try to ration her considerable early speed.  Never worse than third in seven hillside tries, Painting Corners appears on the improve for Miller as she makes only her second graded stakes appearance.  


Owner: Keith Abrahams, Medallion Racing & Sandra Lazaruk                           

Trainer: John Sadler


In terms of raw talent, this lightly raced 5-year-old Tiz Wonderful mare rates right at the top of the Las Cienegas heap. A 9 ¼-length first out maiden winner going six furlongs at age 3 on Feb. 12, 2017, she has been limited in afternoon appearances to seven due to physical issues. The three time stakes winner last year (two of them graded, the Grade 3 Las Flores on Feb. 18 and the Grade 2 Santa Monica on March 24) was then idle prior to running a distant 12th in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Churchill Downs Nov. 3. Out of the Open Forum mare Azure Spring, Selcourt was bred in Kentucky by her part owner, Keith Abrahams and has sprinted on dirt in all of her previous starts. Brilliantly fast on the main track, look for her to shoot to the early lead Saturday under regular rider Tyler Baze.  


Owner: Glen Hill Farm                                                                  

Trainer: Tom Proctor


Back from Maryland following a heartbreak defeat in September, Compelled, a 5-year-old Florida-bred daughter of War Front, makes her second hillside start on Saturday. In her only try over the course, she ran a solid third, beaten three lengths by Belvoir Bay, in the Grade 2 Monrovia three starts back on May 28. Lightly raced, freshened and reunited with Drayden Van Dyke, Compelled looms a very plausible upsetter on Saturday.  

Race 6 of 9 (approximate post time 3 p.m. PT)

1. Compelled—Drayden Van Dyke—120
2. Fiery Lady—Heriberto Figueroa—120
3. Tesora—Kent Desormeaux--122
4. Belvoir Bay—Flavien Prat—124
5. Selcourt—Tyler Baze—120
6. Miss Southern Miss—Rafael Bejarano—120
7. Last Promise Kept—Aaron Gryder—120
8. Lady Suebee—Alonso Quinonez—120
9. Painting Corners—Joel Rosario—120


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