ARCADIA, Calif.—A pair of talented California-breds, Mucho Unusual and Warren’s Showtime, head a competitive field of 10 older fillies and mares in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Buena Vista Stakes, to be contested at one mile over the Santa Anita turf.
Add in recent Grade III winner Charmaine’s Mia, Grade I winner Red Lark and hard-knocking Going to Vegas, and the Buena Vista, which was first won by the late Julio Canani’s Davie’s Lamb with Fernando Toro up in 1988, shapes up as a terrific betting race.
Owned and bred by George Krikorian and trained by Tim Yakteen, Mucho Unusual seeks her third consecutive graded stakes victory at the current meeting. A winner of the Grade III Robert J. Frankel at a mile and one eighth on turf Dec. 27, she again stalked the early pace and registered a three quarter length victory at 2-5 in the Grade III Megahertz at one mile on turf Jan. 18.
A 5-year-old California-bred mare by Mucho Macho Man, out of the Unusual Heat mare Not Unusual, Mucho Unusual will be ridden by Abel Cedillo, as Joel Rosario is away to ride in Saudi Arabia. With four wins from eight tries at a mile on turf, Mucho Unusual is 19-7-3-4 overall with earnings of $822,715.
Third in a pair of ungraded turf stakes at the meet, the one mile Lady of Shamrock on Dec. 26 and the six furlong Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf Sprint Jan. 16, Warren’s Showtime looms a huge threat as she gets back to what looks to be her preferred distance for trainer Craig Lewis. Although beaten 3 ¾ lengths as the 6-5 favorite Jan. 16, she found her best stride late in a race that appeared to short for her.
Bred by Benjamin Warren, who owns the 4-year-old filly by Clubhouse Ride out of Warren’s Veneda, by Affirmative with his wife Sally, Warren’s Showtime has ample class and would benefit from a hot pace with Juan Hernandez back aboard. A winner of five out of her nine one mile turf assignments, Warren’s Showtime is 16-6-1-7 overall with earnings of $569,431.
A 5-year-old Kentucky-bred mare by top sprinter The Factor, Agave Racing Stable’s Charmaine’s Mia came to play in her Southern California debut on Jan. 9, as she controlled the pace en route to a huge 2 ½ length win in the Grade III Las Cienegas Stakes at six furlongs on turf while dismissed at 16-1. Previously headquartered at Woodbine Racecourse in Toronto, she registered a lofty 98 Beyer Speed figure in her first start for Phil D’Amato, who approached the Las Cienegas with a steady diet of drills on Santa Anita’s inner dirt training track.
Although ridden in the Las Cienegas by Drayden Van Dyke, she’ll be handled by Flavien Prat on Saturday, as Van Dyke will stick with the Paddy Gallagher-trained Red Lark.
A winner of the Grade I Del Mar Oaks at a mile and one eighth on turf three starts back on Aug. 22, Irish-bred Red Lark was then a close fourth in the Grade I Queen Elizabeth II at Keeneland Oct. 10 and was most recently fourth, beaten 2 ¾ lengths in the Grade I American Oaks at a mile and one quarter on grass here Dec. 26. Owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, 4-year-old Red Lark has a second place finish from two tries at one mile on turf and is one of several who need a fast pace as she cuts back in distance a quarter mile.
Idle since second, beaten two lengths at 14-1 in the Grade I American Oaks Dec. 26, the Richard Baltas-trained Going to Vegas has been second in her last four starts, the last three all graded stakes. Like Red Lark, Going to Vegas will be shortening up a quarter mile, but with a one mile turf resume that reads 9-3-3-2, she could certainly make her presence felt with regular rider Mario Gutierrez up. Owned by Harry Bederian, Harout Kamberian, Hagop Nakkashian and Richard Baltas, Going to Vegas, a 4-year-old filly by Goldencents, was claimed for $50,000 seven starts back on June 12 and has been off the board just once in six subsequent races.
THE GRADE II BUENA VISTA STAKES, Race 7 OF 9, Approximate post time 3:30 p.m. PT
1. Bohemian Bourbon—Jose Valdivia, Jr.—120
2. Mucho Unusual—Abel Cedillo—124
3. Warren’s Showtime—Juan Hernandez—122
4. Nasty—Ricardo Gonzalez—120
5. Red Lark—Drayden Van Dyke—122
6. Sedamar—Ruben Fuentes—120
7. Going to Vegas—Mario Gutierrez—120
8. Charmaine’s Mia—Flavien Prat—120
9. Sloane Garden—Tiago Pereira—120
10. Heathers Grey—Jessica Pyfer–120
First post time for a nine-race card on Saturday is at 12:30 p.m. For additional information, please visit santaanita.com.
Photo: Mucho Unusual (Benoit)