ARCADIA, Calif.—In a race in which all 10 entrants will be trying Santa Anita’s unique hillside turf course for the first time, the Simon Callaghan-conditioned Urban, fresh off an impressive maiden score, appears to be the filly to beat in Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 Sweet Life Stakes for three-year-old fillies.
Trainer Graham Motion’s French-bred Ouraika, who comes off a solid second in an allowance race at Aqueduct, ships in from Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland and helps to make the Sweet Life a very deep and competitive affair.
Add in Phil D’Amato’s Kitty Kitana, who was a solid second to the top choice in her U.S. debut and punters will have plenty of pari-mutuel options on Saturday.
Off as the 2-1 favorite going 6 ½ furlongs out of Santa Anita’s turf chute on Jan. 8, Urban was attentive to the early pace without being asked, swung off the rail two-wide turning for home and prevailed the three quarters of a length while appearing to win with deceptive ease under Flavien Prat, who rides her back in the Sweet Life.
Owned by Gainesway Stable, LNJ Foxwoods and NK Racing, Urban, who has now sprinted four times on grass, will be making her initial stakes appearance. A $375,000 two-year-old in training sale purchase in May of last year, Urban, who is by Quality Road and is out of the Sky Mesa mare Moonlight Sky, has a win, a second and two thirds and has earnings of $75,920.
A winner of one of her three starts in her native France at age two, Ouraika made her U.S. debut going a mile and one sixteenth on grass in an ungraded stakes at Belmont Park on Nov. 6. Off at 8-1 in a field of nine juvenile fillies, she finished an even fourth, beaten seven lengths. Wheeled back in a six-furlong turf allowance at Aqueduct Dec. 3, Ouraika pressed the pace and finished a much improved second, beaten a half-length.
With Juan Hernandez appearing to have taken off recent one mile maiden turf winner I Got a Gal to ride Ouraika, look for her to be well supported in her Southern California debut. Owned by Michael Dubb and Madaket Stables, LLC, Ouraika was favored in two out of her three French starts, including a 3 ½ maiden win four starts back versus 12 rivals going seven furlongs on grass July 11.
Second in a field of 14 juvenile fillies in her debut going seven furlongs on synthetic Sept. 24 in Ireland, English-bred Kitty Kitana rallied from off the pace to finish second, beaten three quarters of a length by Urban in her U.S. debut going 6 ½ furlongs out of the turf chute Jan. 8.
Although Urban appeared to win in better than looked fashion, Kitty Kitana was certainly not asked for her absolute best and would appear to have considerable upside with John Velazquez taking over on Saturday. Owned by Little Red Feather Racing and Sterling Stables, LLC, Kitty Kitana will try to put a win alongside her two seconds in what will be her third career start.
The Grade II Sweet Life Stakes With Jockeys & Weights In Post Position Order
Race 9 of 9 Approximate post time 4:30 p.m. PT
1. Ellamira—Tyler Baze—124
2. Ouraika—Juan Hernandez—120
3. I Got a Gal—Umberto Rispoli—120
4. Half Past Twelve—Kyle Frey
5. Dolly May—Ryan Curatolo—120
6. Baby Steps—Mike Smith—120
7. Kitty Kitana—John Velazquez—120
8. Impeached Alexander—Ricardo Gonzalez—120
9. Urban—Flavien Prat—120
10. She’s So Shiny – Drayden Van Dyke – 120
First post time for a nine-race card on Saturday is at 12:30 p.m. with admission gates opening at 10:30 a.m. For additional information, please visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.
Santa Anita Press Release
Photo: Urban breaking his maiden at Santa Anita under Flavien Prat Jan. 8, 2022. (Benoit Photos)