ARCADIA, Calif.—An impressive winner of her U.S. debut going six furlongs on turf on Jan. 2, trainer Phil D’Amato’s Irish-bred Majestic Steps figures tough right back among a competitive field of 12 sophomore fillies going the same distance out of Santa Anita’s turf chute in Sunday’s Grade III, $100,000 Sweet Life Stakes.
D’Amato will also be represented by another Irish-bred in the Sweet Life, Going Global, who has been idle since defeating 13 rivals in open company going seven furlongs on synthetic Nov. 11 in Ireland. Although she’s an unknown, she gets the services of Flavien Prat, which will likely ensure she gets ample pari-mutuel attention.
A four length maiden winner over the course on Jan. 2, trainer Simon Callaghan’s impeccably bred Freedom Flyer rates a huge chance in what will be her sixth start. Another very interesting commodity is John Sadler’s speedy Five Pics Please, who shipped in from Mountaineer Park and sped to a three quarter length gate to wire allowance tally here on Jan. 10.
Owned by Michael House, Majestic Steps did everything right in breaking her maiden here in her fifth career start Jan. 2. Mid-pack early as a field of nine fillies came out of the turf chute, she was in tight quarters between horses at the 3 ½ pole, knifed her way through while into the bridle, cut to the rail and appeared to idle a bit while awaiting room three sixteenths out.
With Umberto Rispoli at the controls, she unleashed an impressive turn of foot and like so many of D’Amato’s turf runners, made a successful transition from a steady series of training track drills to a big performance sprinting on turf. Off at 8-1 in her U.S. debut, she figures to be a much shorter price in the Sweet Life, which will be her first group or graded assignment.
With a consistent diet of dirt drills on Santa Anita’s inner training track to her credit, Going Global looms a huge question mark in this deep and competitive field. Owned by Saul Gevertz, Michael Nentwig, Ray Pagano and John Rochfort, Going Global was off at 16-1 in her maiden win over synthetic on Nov. 11 and it’ll be interesting to see how the betting goes in her U.S. debut.
A $450,000 2-year-old in training sale purchase last April, Freedom Flyer, who is by Constitution out of the Carson City mare Rebuke, was off as the 5-2 favorite in a field of 10 going six furlongs on turf Jan. 2 and registered a resounding gate to wire score under Ricky Gonzalez, who rides her back. Owned by James D. Branham and Marsha Naify, Freedom Flyer has been off the board just once in five starts and should be well supported in the Sweet Life.
Richard Mandella’s Pizzazz, who has routed on turf in her last four starts, including a close fourth in the Grade III Jimmy Durante Stakes at Del Mar two starts back on Nov. 28, would appear to have a big shot with Mike Smith riding back. A Bass Stables homebred daughter of War Front, she comes off a disappointing fourth in the one mile turf Blue Norther Stakes here on Dec. 31 and is one of several who figures to be rolling from off the pace.
Owned by Desert Sun Stables, Five Pics Please, who had not raced on turf in her previous three starts, was dismissed at 29-1 in her Southern California debut, but she sped to the lead with Rispoli and never looked back although she was tiring late. A Kentucky-bred daughter of the Indian Charlie stallion Cinco Charlie, she’s out of the Congrats mare No Pictures Please. With Rispoli opting to stay with Majestic Steps, Sadler will look to Tyler Baze to execute a potential front-running heist.
Doug O’Neill’s Plum Sexy, who closed much ground to be third, beaten 1 ¼ lengths by Five Pics Please on Jan. 10, would appreciate a fast pace and looms dangerous at a price with Heriberto Figueroa back aboard. Owned by C T R Stables, LLC, Wonderland Racing Stables, Bob and Sheila Bambauer and Steve Rothblum, Plum Sexy was a first-out maiden winner going 5 ½ furlongs on turf here and subsequently showed early speed before finishing eighth in the Jimmy Durante Stakes on Nov. 28 at Del Mar. With a hot pace likely, look for Plum Sexy to be back off the early pace on Sunday.
THE GRADE III SWEET LIFE STAKES Race 7 of 9.Approximate post time 3:30 p.m. PT
1. Nimbostratus—Joel Rosario—122
2. Freedom Flyer—Ricardo Gonzalez—122
3. Going Global—Flavien Prat—122
4. Go Greta—Juan Hernandez—122
5. Squared Shady—Edwin Maldonado—122
6. Royal Address—Mario Gutierrez—124
7. Five Pics Please—Tyler Baze—122
8. Pizzazz—Mike Smith–122
9. Majestic Steps—Umberto Rispoli—122
10. Magical Thought—Ruben Fuentes—122
11. Plum Sexy—Heriberto Figueroa—122
12. I’m So Anna—Jessica Pyfer–124
First post time for a nine-race card on Sunday is at 12:30 p.m. For additional information, please visit santaanita.com.
Santa Anita Press Release
Photo: Majestic Steps (Benoit)