Friday, January 20, 2017


Idle since winning the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Santa Anita on Nov. 5, trainer Ian Kruljac’s Finest City heads a field of five older fillies and mares in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Santa Monica Stakes at seven furlongs.

Kaleem Shah’s speedy two-time graded stakes winning Fantastic Style will make her first start for Doug O’Neill as she tries to bounce back off a disappointing odds-on performance here on Dec. 30.

Trainer Peter Miller’s streaking Bad Ju Ju, who was claimed four starts back for $40,000 on Oct. 8, rallied from off the pace to take the 6 ½ furlong Kalookan Queen Stakes here on a wet fast main track Dec. 30 and seeks her fourth win in a row in the Santa Monica.


An impressive three quarter length winner of the seven furlong Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint when ridden for the first time by Mike Smith, the 5-year-old Pennsylvania-bred mare was a troubled second in last year’s Santa Monica and kept top company throughout the remainder of 2016, posting an 8-2-2-2 mark on the year that included a third place finish to multiple Eclipse Champion Beholder in the Grade I Vanity Mile here on June 4. Owned by Seltzer Thoroughbreds, Finest City, who pressed the early pace in her Breeders’ Cup win, has trained in very impressive fashion here for her return, posting three bullet works dating back to Oct. 27, including a five furlong move of 59.20 on Dec. 21–best of 48 drills at the distance that morning. With an overall mark of 14-4-4-2, she has earnings of $925,594.


A two-time graded stakes winning sprinter, she disappointed at odds of 1-2 when beaten 12 lengths on a wet fast track in the 6 ½ furlong Kalookan Queen Stakes on Dec. 30. After pressing the pace through the first half mile in 21.40 and 44 flat, she tired badly to run fifth in a field of eight. Owned by Kaleem Shah, this 5-year-old mare by Harlan’s Holiday, originally trained by Bob Baffert, will make her first start for Doug O’Neill on Saturday and will be ridden back by Rafael Bejarano. A minor stakes winner here at three going seven furlongs, Fantastic Style can once again be counted on to show plenty of early foot. With an overall record of 10-5-2-2, she has earnings of $383,608.


 With heavy rain in the local forecast Thursday and Friday, this 5-year-old California-bred mare by Desert Code would appear well positioned on several fronts as Saturday’s main track could well listed as an “off” surface. Owned by Rockingham Ranch, she is undefeated in her three starts for her new connections and will be ridden for the fourth consecutive time by Norberto Arroyo, Jr. While class looms a question as the Santa Monica marks her first graded stakes assignment, Miller has her on a roll and she has recency in her corner. Five for 11 last year, she is 17-7-1-4 overall with earnings of $305,731.


1  Finest City–Mike Smith–124

2  Bad Ju Ju–Norberto Arroyo, Jr.–120

3  Fager’s Gal–Flavien Prat–120

4 Fantastic Style–Rafael Bejarano–122

5 Sheer Pleasure–Martin Garcia–120

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