BLIND LUCK TOWERS OVER EL ENCINO FOES, ONE DAY BEFORE EXPECTED ECLIPSE CORONATION

ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 13, 2011) – One day before she is expected to be named champion 3-year-old filly of 2010, Blind Luck will make her 2011 debut on Sunday against seven ambitious opponents in Santa Anita’s 47th running of the Grade II, $150,000 El Encino Stakes for 4-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles.

“We think we have her ready, she should be plenty fit now,” said trainer and co-owner Jerry Hollendorfer after the multi-millionaire worked seven furlongs in 1:25 1/5 on Friday of last week.

Blind Luck has not raced since Nov. 5 when she rallied for second behind Unrivaled Belle as the 3-2 favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic at Churchill Downs. Purchased by the Hollendorfer group following a 13 ¼-length win in her maiden debut at Calder Racecourse in June of 2009, Blind Luck has become the epitome of consistency.

She has never finished out of the money during a 15-race career that has produced a 9-4-2 record for earnings of $2,388,712. She has posted five Grade I victories including last spring’s Kentucky Oaks. If the come-from-behinder doesn’t win, she is close. The furthest away she has ever been at the wire is 1 ¾ lengths. And, to think, the daughter of Pollard’s Vision originally sold for $11,000 in July of 2008 and broke her maiden at Calder for a $40,000 claiming tag.

Joel Rosario, in the saddle for Blind Luck’s last four starts, will be back aboard. The chestnut filly will break from post position No.2 while carrying co-high weight of 123 pounds along with Always a Princess.

Always a Princess, whom Rafael Bejarano will ride for trainer Bob Baffert, has been competitive against Blind Luck in the past. Arnold Zetcher’s homebred daughter of Leroidesanimaux likes to be on the lead when routing.

She led into the stretch of the Grade I Oak Leaf Stakes in 2009 before winding up 2 ½ lengths behind Blind Luck in second. In that year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies competition at Santa Anita, Always a Princess again set the pace. She faded to fifth, 1 ¾ lengths behind victorious She Be Wild and one length in back of third-place Blind Luck.

Like fellow El Encino entrants Malibu Pier, Champagne d’Oro and It Tiz, Always a Princess is coming out of Santa Anita’s Grade I La Brea Stakes which was won by Switch at seven furlongs on Dec. 26.

Always a Princess, the 5-2 second choice in the La Brea behind 6-5 Switch, pressed the pace before dropping back to fourth, 1 ¾ lengths behind runner-up Malibu Pier while Champagne d’Oro was a non-threatening sixth, just behind It Tiz. The winner of last October’s Grade II Indiana Oaks at Hoosier Park, Always a Princess owns a record of 3-1-1 in seven starts for earnings of $336,048.

Champagne d’Oro is a multiple Grade I stakes winner who took last June’s Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park after being sent off at odds of 39-1. She came back to capture the Test at Saratoga in August at odds of 5-1. Champagne d’Oro, however, was soundly beaten by Blind Luck in two previous meetings. The Medaglia d’Oro filly, trained by Eric Guillot for Southern Equine Stable & Smith, will be ridden for the first time by Joe Talamo. She has banked $563,465 from a record of 3-3-1 in 15 starts.

Malibu Pier has been to the post but five times while winning three for Spendthrift Farm and trainer Carla Gaines. The daughter of Malibu Moon, who will have Garrett Gomez aboard, will be seeking her first stakes victory after having earned $141,200.

The complete field for the El Encino Stakes, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Champagne d’Oro, Joseph Talamo, 120; Blind Luck, Joel Rosario, 123; Malibu Pier, Garrett Gomez, 118; Fashion Trend, Victor Espinoza, 118; Our Georgia, Patrick Valenzuela, 118; Always a Princess, Rafael Bejarano, 123; Life Well Lived, Alonso, Quinonez, 118, and It Tiz, David Flores, 118.

The El Encino will be run as the eighth race on a nine-race program with first post at 12:30 p.m.

-30-