Brainspin looks long gone
ARCADIA, Calif. – Brainspin figures to have an easier time setting the pace Thursday at Santa Anita than in any of her recent starts, including runner-up finishes in her last three.
The second-level optionalclaiming race for fillies and mares on Thursday is shorter, the competition is easier, and the pace scenario softer than the challenges Brainspin faced in her last three. Brainspin looks like the controlling speed in the six-furlong race, which would be a welcome development for her.
In her last three races, all at 6 1/2 furlongs, Brainspin was forced into a pace duel. In all three – two allowance races and a minor stakes – she won the battle but lost the war. She dueled through fast fractions, put away her pace rivals, and then got run down by a closer.
That is unlikely to reoccur Thursday for Brainspin, who is dropping from a stakes into an allowance.
Her six rivals include Skye Diamonds, a five-time winner in career-best form; Lunar Empress, dropping in class after finishing fourth in a Grade 1; and Ponder Lea, who drew an outside post and has enough tactical speed to be the “trip” horse. Also in the field are Pica, La Berma, and Wonderful Lie.
The dirt sprint will share billing Thursday with a first-level allowance for California-bred 3-year-olds at 6 1/2 furlongs on turf (race 5). Contenders include Mr. Hinx, Hot Smoke, and Alsatian.
KEY CONTENDERS, RACE 6
Brainspin, by Flatter Last 3 Beyers: 77-84-74
◗ John Sadler trains the 2-for-6 front-runner, who will be ridden by Luis Contreras.
◗ Although forwardly placed runners still win their fair share on dirt at Santa Anita, only 3 of 28 six-furlong races at this meet on a fast track were won by setting the pace at every call.
Ponder Lea, by More Than Ready Last 3 Beyers: 75-72-71
◗ Her third-place finish last out in a minor stakes looked like a prep race. She showed little speed, raced wide, and finished evenly. In previous starts, Ponder Lea produced speed. If she regains her quickness Thursday, jockey Flavien Prat could have her positioned comfortably in second. She would get first run on Brainspin.
◗ Ponder Lea has won 3 of 9.
Lunar Empress, by Malibu Moon Last 3 Beyers: 85-82-86
◗ A Richard Baltas-trained stablemate of Ponder Lea, Lunar Empress finished fourth last out in the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes on Dec. 26.
◗ Lunar Empress, whose rider is Rafael Bejarano, has won 2 of 8.
Skye Diamonds, by First Dude Last 3 Beyers: 83-76-79
◗ Up in class after a decisive first-level allowance win in early January, Skye Diamonds has won 2 of 3 starts since being claimed for $40,000 by Bill Spawr.
◗ Spawr enters Thursday 8 for 19 at the meet.