On Saturday at Santa Anita Park, trainer Richard Mandella will unveil the unbeaten Jolie Olimpica (Brz), who makes her United States debut.
A four-year-old daughter of Drosselmeyer, Jolie Olimpica debuted last February with a more than four length win in a maiden race on the grass over 6 ½ furlongs. She then added a grade 3 stakes over seven and a half panels before annexing the grade 1 Grande Premio Jockey Club Brasileiro by six lengths. That was June 9 of last year, and she has been off since then. This will be the shortest she has ever raced, but she has had six local workouts to prepare for her return to the races and jockey Mike Smith climbs aboard.
Storm the Hill will be her chief challenger from the rail. The six-year-old daughter of Get Stormy has won five of eight over this turf course, but hasn’t won since November of 2018. She missed by a nose in a grade 2 at Del Mar around two turns in August, and drops out of consecutive starts in grade 1 company. Phil D’Amato trains, Flavien Prat will ride for the first time. This is Storm the Hill’s first try sprinting since her last win, and she has never been worse than third here.
Kentan Road is expected to show speed just outside Storm the Hill. The six-year-old daughter of Into Mischief was a winner over five furlongs at Del Mar in August, and hasn’t hit the board in two attempts since, but was a three-time winner last year for trainer John Sadler and has been first or second in four of five starts on this course. She is the only one in the field with multiple wins at the distance. Jorge Velez will ride.
California-bred An Eddie Surprise is coming off a win over this trip last out on January 4. Doug O’Neill trains the daughter of Square Eddie, a four-time winner here who steps up into stakes competition for the first time. She has only won four times in 23 starts, but she has been top three in 16 of those efforts, including eight seconds. Mario Gutierrez will ride the hard-trying mare.
Free Cover rounds out the short field of five. Andrew Lerner trains the daughter of Congrats, who will have Ruben Fuentes aboard for this. She was ninth in grade 1 company on the dirt last out and makes her turf debut here, but her Holy Bull dam was a four-time winner on the grass. This is only Free Cover’s second start on the West Coast after being based in Kentucky most of her career under the care of Bret Calhoun. Free Cover is trying older fillies and mares for the first time.
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