ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 6, 2022)–A stakes winner over the course, Zero Tolerance heads a field of eight older fillies and mares going 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita’s turf in this Sunday’s Grade III, $100,000 Las Cienegas Stakes.
Vladimir Cerin’s Hear My Prayer and Bob Baffert’s Ginja, a pair of distaffers in good recent form, also rate big chances in what will be their initial tries down Santa Anita’s unique hillside layout. Throw in Baffert’s classy comebacker Beautiful Gift and John Sadler’s newcomer, Gold for Kitten, as well as his veteran stakes winner Constantia, and the Las Cienegas has the look of a wide open affair.
A Kentucky-bred 4-year-old filly by Mizzen Mast, Zero Tolerance stalked the pace and rallied impressively to take the ungraded Unzip Me Stakes over the course three starts back on Oct. 3 and was subsequently a close fourth going one mile on turf in the Grade III Autumn Miss Stakes on Oct. 30.
Ridden for the first time by Umberto Rispoli, she sped to a 1 ¼ length win at 3-5 in a second condition allowance on Nov. 20 at Del Mar. Originally trained by Peter Miller, she’ll be saddled by Ruben Alvarado on Sunday as she seeks her first graded win and her fourth overall from six starts. Owned by Custom Truck Accessories, Jason Hall, Joe Kelly and Michael Riordan, Zero Tolerance will be reunited with Flavien Prat, who was aboard for the Unzip Me win as well as a maiden score four starts back on Aug. 20.
Owned by Holly and David Wilson, Hear My Prayer has been idle since rallying for a solid third place finish, beaten three quarters of a length in the five furlong turf Senator Ken Maddy Stakes at Del Mar on Nov. 5. Originally based at Gulfstream Park, Hear My Prayer made her first start for Cerin two starts back in five furlong turf classified allowance Aug. 26, a race in which she pressed the pace and prevailed by a half length.
A two-time ungraded stakes winner sprinting on turf at Gulfstream, Hear My Prayer enters the Las Cienegas as a fresh commodity with a solid resume and will be ridden for the third consecutive time by Juan Hernandez. A 5-year-old Florida-bred mare by the Yes It’s True stallion The Big Beast, Hear My Prayer is 11-5-0-3 overall with earnings of $218,975.
Idle since well beaten as the 2-1 favorite in the Grade II Black Eyed Susan May 14 at Pimlico, Baoma Corporation’s Beautiful Gift, who was a close second in the Grade II Santa Anita Oaks April 3 and a game head winner of the Grade III Santa Ysabel three starts back on March 7, should be attentive to the pace coming off the bench in what will be her first try on grass.
Although ridden by John Velazquez in her last three starts, Beautiful Gift will be handled for the first time by Drayden Van Dyke on Sunday. Favored in three out of her five starts, Beautiful Gift has the class to rate a major contender.
Perhaps the biggest question mark in the field due to the fact she’ll be trying turf for the first time, Ginja nonetheless is in solid form and with Mike Smith riding her back, well-spotted. In a gutty effort, she was pressed every step of the way when second, beaten a neck by her stablemate Velvet Slippers in a one mile first condition allowance Nov. 19 at Del Mar.
Owned by Jill Baffert, Ginja is a 4-year-old filly by Quality Road, out of the Forestry mare Sequoia Queen. With an overall mark of 9-1-5-1, she’ll be looking for her first graded stakes win.
Idle since a close third in an ungraded stakes going a mile and one sixteenth on synthetic at Woodbine Oct. 31, Gold for Kitten, who was claimed five starts back for $50,000 at Churchill Downs May 6, has never been worse than third in six starts–winning four, and she’ll get the first time services of a red hot John Velazquez. A 4-year-old filly by Kitten’s Joy, she’s owned by DARRS Inc.
With her last win coming five starts back in the ungraded Mizdirection Stakes going six furlongs on turf here April 17, Sadler will also be well represented by Constantia, who takes a significant drop in class off a sixth place finish going one mile on grass in the Grade II Goldikova Stakes at Del Mar Nov. 6. A 5-year-old mare by Munnings, Constantia was bred in Kentucky by her owner, Keith Abrahams. Although second going 6 ½ furlongs in the Grade II Monrovia Stakes four starts back on June 5, Constantia, who has four wins from 16 starts, will be making her first start down the hillside turf course.
THE GRADE III LAS CIENEGAS WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER
Race 7 of 9 Approximate post time 3:30 p.m. PT
- Tapwater–Joe Bravo–120
- Hear My Prayer–Juan Hernandez–120
- Constantia–Umberto Rispoli–122
- Quiet Secretary–Tyler Baze–120
- Beautiful Gift–Drayden Van Dyke–122
- Ginja–Mike Smith–120
- Zero Tolerance–Flavien Prat–122
- Gold for Kitten–John Velazquez–120
First post time for a nine-race card on Sunday is at 12:30 p.m., admission gates will open at 10:30 a.m.