Freedom Flyer Back to Turf in Wide-Open $100K Mizdirection

May 17, 2023

Freedom Flyer after her victory in the Wishing Well Feb. 18 (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Santa Anita Press Box

ARCADIA, Calif.— With a return to her preferred surface, trainer Leonard Powell’s Freedom Flyer merits strong consideration among a wide-open field of nine older fillies and mares in Saturday’s $100,000 Mizdirection Stakes, to be contested at about 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course.

A 5-year-old Kentucky-bred mare by Constitution, Freedom Flyer went to the front and prevailed by a neck over the course in the restricted Wishing Well Stakes, two starts back on Feb. 18. In her most recent start, the Grade III Monrovia Stakes, which was transferred off the hillside turf to the main track at 6 ½ furlongs April 8, she was away slowly and was never a factor when beaten 17 lengths.

A close third down the hill three starts back in the Grade III Las Cienegas on Jan. 2, Freedom Flyer has two wins from four tries over the course. Owned by Marsha Naify, Freedom Flyer, who was ridden in her last three starts by the recently departed Frankie Dettori, will be reunited with Juan Hernandez, who guided her to a 1 ½ length second condition allowance win over the course five starts back on Sept. 30.

Out of the Carson City mare Rebuke, Freedom Flyer is 22-4-5-4 overall with earnings of $272,620.

Big Summer takes the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf Sprint Jan. 7 (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

A gem of consistency, California-bred Big Summer comes off a big second on dirt in the Grade III Monrovia and is two-for-three over the hillside turf course. Trained by Carla Gaines since this past August, this 5-year-old mare by Mr. Big out of the Cee’s Tizzy mare Ultimate Summer has won three of her seven starts with Gaines while not finishing worse than second.

With regular rider Joe Bravo engaged, Big Summer, who was second, beaten a neck by Freedom Flyer as the 9-5 favorite two starts back in the Wishing Well Stakes Feb. 18, took the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf Sprint three starts back down the hill and thus seeks her second stakes career stakes win.

Bred in California by Bob Abrams and Mitchell Dutko, Big Summer is owned by her breeders along with Michael Paran. With an overall race record of 13-4-7-2, she has earnings of $355,160.

Trainer Ian Kruljac’s Very Scary appears well-positioned to post a major threat in what will be her first try over the hillside turf. Third going a flat mile on turf in her last two starts—the Grade III Wilshire on April 30 and the Grade II Royal Heroine (when beaten 1 ¾ lengths by Closing Remarks) on April 1, Very Scary has won three of her last five starts and will be ridden for the fifth consecutive time by Kent Desormeaux.

A 4-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Connect out of the Hard Spun mare Summer Reading, Very Scary, who was claimed for just $20,000 nine starts back on Sept. 2, will be bidding for her first stakes win in the Mizdirection.

Owned by Walter Luedtke, Robert Oracheff and Robert Scott, is 16-3-4-4 overall with earnings of $179,090.

Doug O’Neill’s Maryland-bred One Silk Stocking is one of several that rate big chances as well on Saturday. Most recently fifth, beaten three-quarters of a length in a second condition allowance over the course on April 22, she’ll be ridden for the first time by highly regarded recent arrival Antonio Fresu, who seeks his first-ever Santa Anita stakes win.

A 4-year-old filly by Lord Nelson out of the Street Cry mare Keep Right, One Silk Stocking has one win from three tries down the hill. Owned by Roadrunner Racing, Neil Haymes, William Strauss and Dennis O’Neill, One Silk Stocking is 11-3-2-0 and will be seeking her first career stakes win.

Elm Drive kicks off 2023 with a score in the Monrovia (G3) under Ramon Vazquez (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Phil D’Amato’s Elm Drive, who relished the change in surface when taking the Grade III Monrovia Stakes by three-quarters of a length on April 8, will be making her second start of the year and her first on turf in the Mizdirection.

Owned by Little Red Feather Racing, Elm Drive is a 4-year-old filly by Mohaymen out of the Indian Charlie mare Lets Dance Charlie. With four wins and a third from nine starts, Elm Drive, who will be ridden back by Ramon Vazquez, has earnings of $348,140.

Originally trained by Christophe Clement, Honey Pants, idle since running fourth in an ungraded stakes going six furlongs on turf Nov. 27 at Aqueduct, will make her first start for D’Amato in what will be her Southern California debut on Saturday.

Stakes placed on six occasions, all on turf, Honey Pants, a 5-year-old Kentucky-bred mare by Cairo Prince out of the Afternoon Deelites mare Queens Carousel, is owned by Jim Bakke and Gerald Isbister. Raced nearly exclusively on turf and unplaced in her lone dirt try, Honey Pants, who will be ridden by Umberto Rispoli, is 17-3-7-1 and has earnings of $264,346.


Race 8 of 10 Approximate post time 4:30 p.m. PT

  1. Honey Pants—Umberto Rispoli—122
  2. Canoodling—Mike Smith—124
  3. Freedom Flyer—Juan Hernandez—124
  4. Very Scary—Kent Desormeaux—120
  5. Elm Drive—Ramon Vazquez—124
  6. Lady Jae—Kyle Frey—120
  7. Una Chiquitita—Hector Berrios—124
  8. Big Summer—Joe Bravo—124
  9. One Silk Stocking—Antonio Fresu—120

First post time for a 10-race card on Saturday is at 1 p.m. with admission gates opening at 11 a.m.

@jonathanstettin @bbopjz Fantastic writing, thoroughly enjoyable read.

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