Brain­spin looks long gone

Daily Racing Form National Digital Edition - - Front Page - By Brad Free

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.

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