MULTIPLE STAKES WINNING ISMENE HEADS $100,000 IRISH O’BRIEN STAKES ON SUNDAY, EIGHT CAL-BRED FILLIES AND MARES ‘GO FOR GREEN’ DOWN HILLSIDE TURF COURSE

ARCADIA, Calif. (March 14, 2013)—Multiple stakes winner Ismene heads a cast of eight California-bred fillies and mares signed up for Sunday’s $100,000 Irish O’Brien Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course.

Owned and bred by Stephen Ferraro, the speedy Ismene, a 4-year-old filly by Tribal Rule, won her first three races at age two, including the $80,000 Anoakia Stakes and the $100,000 Cal Breeders Champion Stakes. Following her Cal Breeders win, she was forced to the sidelines for all of 2012 due to a chip in a knee.

“It was very minor,” said trainer Bill Spawr of the injury. “We might have continued, but there was a risk that it could have led to arthritis and with a filly like this, you don’t take chances.”

Off at odds of 4-5, Ismene disappointed in her comeback race at Santa Anita on Jan. 25, running fifth, beaten eight lengths in a second condition allowance over a wet fast surface at six furlongs.

Ismene has had three works since, all of them on the training track, and she’ll try turf for the first time in the Irish O’Brien.

The complete field from the rail out for the Irish O’Brien Stakes, to be run as the eighth on a nine-race program, with all horses assigned 117 pounds is as follows:

SECRET COVE—GARRETT GOMEZ

A turf specialist, this 5-year-old mare by Tribal Rule shortens up out of five consecutive routes for trainer Peter Miller. Although she is winless in her last nine starts, she had won three in-a-row leading into the skid. In her only try down the hill, in the $75,000 Clockers’ Corner Handicap on Feb. 25, 2012, she pressed the pace and finished fourth, beaten four lengths by eventual Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Mizdirection.

Owned by David Bernsen, Secret Cove exits the one mile $100,000 Valentine Dancer on Jan. 26. In tight mid-way down the backstretch, she finished fourth, beaten 3 ½ lengths by the highly regarded Tiz Flirtatious. Her overall record is 23-5-1-2, with $191,700 in earnings.

MISS BECCA—EDWIN MALDONADO

Reclaimed by trainer Peter Eurton for $32,000 on Feb. 22, Miss Becca was away slowly and charged home to finish fourth, beaten three quarters of a length as the 6-5 favorite coming down the hillside turf. With a record of 6-1-2-0 down the hill the 6-year-old mare by Marino Marini was a close second in a first condition allowance down the hill two starts back.

With a late running style, she’ll hope to have a live pace to run down. Owned by Sharon Alesia, Miss Becca’s overall mark is 13-5-4-0, with $168,810 in earnings.

DANCINGTOTHESTARS—MARIO GUTIERREZ

First or second in her last four starts, Dancingtothestars comes off a second place finish down the hillside course in the $86,000 Wishing Well Stakes on Feb. 10. Trained by Doug O’Neill, she pressed the pace two starts back and was a solid second in the one mile Valentine’s Dancer, finishing 1 ¾ lengths behind late running Tiz Flirtatious.

The Irish O’Brien will be her third try down the hill and her fourth attempt on turf—where she is as yet winless. A 5-year-old mare by Good Journey, she has an outstanding overall mark of 11-4-3-2, with earnings of $223,056.

Owned by her breeder, Ren-Mar Thoroughbreds Inc., Dancingtothestars should sit a stalking trip with Mario Gutierrez aboard.

QUIZZICAL—GARY STEVENS

Second in her last two starts on the main track, California-sired Quizzical will retain the services of comebacking Hall of Famer Gary Stevens in the Irish O’Brien. A 4-year-old filly by Cindago, Quizzical’s only other turf try was a disaster, resulting in a last place finish going 6 ½ furlongs down the hill on Nov. 4.

Trained by Mark Glatt, Quizzical has sprinted in all of her races, the result being an overall mark of 10-3-3-1, with earnings of $154,260. Owned by Allen and Susan Branch, Quizzical will be making her stakes debut on Sunday and could lay close or come from off the pace.

ISMENE—MIKE SMITH

What have you done for me lately? Bet to the heavy 4-5 favorite in her comeback race on Jan. 25, the previously undefeated Ismene appeared to get a good stalking trip going six furlongs on a wet fast main track under regular rider Mike Smith, but failed miserably, finishing a well beaten fifth in a six-horse field.

With the Irish O’Brien in mind, trainer Bill Spawr has worked the 4-year-old daughter of Tribal Rule three times on the training track since her comeback, with her most recent a six furlong move in 1:14.20 on March 11.

With three wins from four starts, the Stephen Ferraro homebred will try turf for the first time on Sunday. Her earnings stand at $152,190.

BENCH GLORY—BRICE BLANC

Owned and bred by John Harris’ Harris Farms Inc., Bench Glory is in sharp recent form and has proven ability down the hillside turf course. A rally-wide first condition allowance winner down the hill on March 30, 2012, the 6-year-old Benchmark mare was a first-out maiden winner in June, 2011, suggesting that she might be able to overcome the 50-week layoff.

Trained by Sean McCarthy, Bench Glory has a win, a second and a third from three tries down Santa Anita’s hillside. With earnings of $149,272, she is 9-3-1-2 overall.

CURVY CAT—JOE TALAMO

A gutty neck winner in her turf debut down the hill on Feb. 14, Curvy Cat battled the length of the stretch for the win under Joe Talamo, who rides back for red hot trainer Jerry Hollendorfer in the Irish O’Brien. Third in two minor stakes prior to her second condition allowance win, the Tommy Town Thoroughbreds homebred daughter of Ministers Wildcat is based at Betfair Hollywood Park.

In sharp recent form and with an outstanding overall record of 13-6-4-3, Curvy Cat rates a huge chance from post position seven.

MISS WELL MOLDED—RAFAEL BEJARANO

By Unusual Heat and out of the Bertrando mare Miss Thirtyfour D, Miss Well Molded is 8-2-3-1 on turf and finished second in her only try down the hillside course.

Owned by her breeders, Michael and Cory Wellman, Miss Well Molded will be ridden for the first time by Rafael Bejarano, as regular Mike Smith opts for likely favorite Ismene.

Narrowly beaten as the 5-2 favorite going a mile on grass Feb. 16, Miss Well Molded rates a huge chance from off the pace as she cuts back in distance. Trained by Paddy Gallagher, she is 9-2-3-1 overall with earnings of $119,668.

First post time on Sunday is at 12:30 p.m. In addition to the Irish O’Brien Stakes, Santa Anita will also celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with its traditional $1 million St. Pat’s Horseshoe Pitch. For additional information, visit www.santaanita.com.