October 25, 2021

Spiced Perfection stretches out, Horologist makes Santa Anita debut in La Canada

Spiced Perfection wins the TCA at Keeneland 2019
Spiced Perfection wins the TCA at Keeneland 2019 (Coady Photo/Keeneland)

Saturday’s $200,000 La Canada (G3) at Santa Anita features several notable contenders looking to answer a question in the 1 1/16-mile affair.

Spiced Perfection, the 5-2 morning-line favorite, boasts the best resume – but around one turn. The winner of the 2018 La Brea (G1) who swept both the Madison (G1) and Thoroughbred Club of America (G2) at Keeneland last season, she was also fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1). The Peter Miller trainee successfully stepped up from seven furlongs to a mile in the Dec. 7 Go for Wand (G3) at Aqueduct, getting away with a soft pace before drawing off. Spiced Perfection now stretches out to two turns for the first time since her sophomore days, when she placed a half-length second in the Melair at this track and trip.

New Jersey-bred Horologist has turned in her best performances at this distance – but versus fellow sophomores at her then-home base of Monmouth. Upending Jaywalk in last summer’s Monmouth Oaks (G3) to cap a four-race win streak, Horologist finished a creditable third to Street Band and Guarana in the Cotillion (G1). A cutback to seven furlongs for the Raven Run (G2) backfired as she was run off her feet, in her first start for new co-owners and trainer Richard Baltas. Horologist should give a better account of herself in this first start at Santa Anita, and versus older graded rivals. Interestingly, Joe Bravo renews their partnership.

Bob Baffert’s Baoma Corp. duo of Der Lu and Message are both coming off dominant victories – but in entry-level allowances. Der Lu was one of the hot debut winners at Del Mar at two, only to end up a remote fourth behind Bellafina in the 2018 Chandelier (G3). Sidelined thereafter, Der Lu got her act back together in her third start of 2019 and now hopes to carry her momentum forward. Drayden Van Dyke sticks with her on the rail, while Message gets Mike Smith. Message didn’t break her maiden until her June reappearance but has been busy since, finally clearing her first allowance condition in a rout at Los Alamitos. That also happened to be her two-turn debut.

Queen Bee to You exits a new career high in the Bayakoa (G3) – but previously had found her level in Cal-restricted stakes. The other time she took a class hike from a Los Al stakes score, the Andrew Lerner pupil trailed in the Clement L. Hirsch (G1). Zusha, the Bayakoa runner-up, has traded decisions with Kaydetre, who was most recently last in the Zenyatta (G2). Starr of Quality, unplaced in the Santa Margarita (G2) as well as behind Queen Bee to You in the Betty Grable last out, is another with a class question.

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Earlier, the $100,000 Las Cienegas (G3) marks the North American debut of Fox Hill Farms’ unbeaten Brazilian Jolie Olimpica. The Richard Mandella recruit has been installed as the 6-5 favorite after racking up an imperious 3-for-3 record in her homeland. Last seen romping over juvenile males in the June 9 Grande Premio Jockey Club Brasileiro (G1) at a metric mile, Jolie Olimpica faces a trial of raw speed in this 5 1/2-furlong turf dash. She also counts as a 4-year-old by Northern Hemisphere reckoning, but remains physically a sophomore tackling her elders off a layoff. Hall of Famer Smith guides the intriguing newcomer to the circuit.

Storm the Hill turns back to a sprint for the first time since her victory in the 2018 Sen. Ken Maddy (G3). That was right in her wheelhouse – the about 6 1/2-furlong downhill course – and this is a sharper trip. Although the Phil D’Amato mare went winless in her 2019 campaign, she missed by a nostril in the Yellow Ribbon (G2) and tried top company in the First Lady (G1) and Matriarch (G1) in her last pair. Storm the Hill, who picks up Flavien Prat, rates as the 9-5 second choice on the rail.

Kentan Road promises to show speed from post 2, while An Eddie Surprise comes off an entry-level allowance score over course and distance, and Free Cover tries turf following a last in the La Brea.