ARCADIA, Calif. – A pair of talented Irish-breds, Phil D’Amato’s Island of Love and the Richard Baltas- trained Lucky Girl, will meet for the third time as they head a field of six sophomore fillies going one mile on turf in Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 Senorita Stakes at Santa Anita.
The 58th running of the Senorita Stakes will highlight a 10-race card locally, while admission gates will open early at 7:15 a.m. on Saturday in order to accommodate a tremendous undercard from Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day. First live race post time at Santa Anita will be at 12:30 p.m.
Although favored in two ungraded stakes at one mile on turf, the Lady of Shamrock on Jan. 30 and the China Doll on March 6, Island of Love was defeated by identical 1 ¾ length margins by Lucky Girl on both occasions but will hope to turn the tables on Saturday.
Off at 9-5 in the China Doll, Island of Love was in a good stalking position while second about one length off the lead heading to the far turn when Lucky Girl, ridden by Joe Bravo, seized the initiative, making an early run for it at the 3 ½ furlong pole enroute to victory at odds of 6-1.
Although she finished fourth, Island of Love never threw in the towel and her connections are hoping that Lucky Girl, who finished a disappointing fifth, beaten nine lengths in the Grade III Providencia Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on turf April 9, could be vulnerable as Island of Love approaches the Senorita as a fresh filly.
Ridden in her first two starts by the now-departed Flavien Prat, Island of Love will be handed by Juan Hernandez. Owned by R Unicorn Stable, Island of Love was unbeaten in two starts as a juvenile in Italy and thus has two wins and one second place finish from four overall starts.
Winless in her first three starts, Lucky Girl approached the Lady of Shamrock, her fourth stateside start, as a maiden but powered to a convincing 1 ¾ length score over Island of Love. An equally impressive winner of the China Doll, she was off as the 2-1 favorite in the Grade III Providencia, but was no match for the Bob Hess,Jr. trained Cairo Memories when the real running started at the top of the lane and she gave way readily through the drive.
Owned by Panic Stable, LLC, Lucky Girl will be ridden for the first time by Ramon Vazquez, as Joe Bravo is away to ride at Churchill Downs on Saturday. Third in her career debut July 24 in Ireland, Lucky Girl is two for seven lifetime with earnings of $115,663.
Baltas is also solidly represented by another Irish-bred, Sterling Crest, who was second beaten 4 ½ lengths by Cairo Memories in the Grade III Providencia. Third, beaten 1 ¼ lengths by Lucky Girl two starts back in the China Doll Stakes, she finished a half length clear of Island of Love and with a return to a flat mile, rates a huge chance with Victor Espinoza taking over from the recently departed Umberto Rispoli.
Owned by Calvin Nguyen and Joey Tran, Sterling Crest is 7-1-3-2 overall with earnings of $120,240.
THE GRADE III SENORITA STAKES WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER
Race 5 of 10 Approximate post time 2:30 p.m. PT
- Lucky Girl – Ramon Vazquez – 124
- Sterling Crest – Victor Espinoza – 120
- Island of Love – Juan Hernandez – 120
- Fuente Ovejuna – Edwin Maldonado – 120
- Delmona – Tyler Baze – 120
- Baby Steps – Diego Herrera – 120
Special first post time for a 10-race card on Saturday, Kentucky Derby Day, is at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 7:15 a.m. in order to accommodate a tremendous Derby Day undercard from Churchill Downs.
Santa Anita Press Release
Photo: Phil D’Amato (Benoit Photo)