February 20, 2024

Donna Veloce makes season debut in Santa Ysabel

Donna Veloce at Santa Anita 2019
Donna Veloce at Santa Anita (Horsephotos.com)

After narrow losses to champion British Idiom and the now-retired Bast in her last two starts, Donna Veloce aims for a return to the winner’s circle following the $100,000 Santa Ysabel (G3) at Santa Anita on Sunday.

The 1 1/16-mile Santa Ysabel is a Road to the Kentucky Oaks series prep, offering qualifying points of 50-20-10-5 to the top four finishers. Courtesy of the aforementioned second-place efforts in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and Starlet (G1), Donna Veloce enters the Santa Ysabel with 12 points.

Only a neck separated Donna Veloce from British Idiom in the Breeders’ Cup, while the margin was a mere half-length between her and Bast in the Los Alamitos. A 9 1/4-length debut winner in late September, Donna Veloce was favored in both stakes apperances and undoubtedly will be again Sunday.

The pace could get heated with the likes of Gidgetta, Speech, and Tiz Fake News breaking outside of Donna Veloce, who did show rating ability in the Breeders’ Cup and appears flexible in regards to running style. That should benefit both the favorite and Gingham, a seven-race veteran who was most recently a distant second in the Las Virgenes (G2) behind Venetian Harbor. The Quality Road filly unsuccessfully faced Donna Veloce in the Starlet, finishing fourth of five and more than a dozen lengths behind that budding star.

Storie Blue gutted out a maiden win going a mile on the front end two months ago, but is bred to relish longer distances as a daughter of Empire Maker.