George Krikorian’s grade 1-winning homebred Mucho Unusual heads a solid field of eight older fillies and mares going a mile-and-one-quarter on turf in the March 27 $100,000 Santa Ana Stakes (G3T) at Santa Anita Park.
Voted California-bred Horse of the Year for 2020 by the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association, Mucho Unusual will be tackling sharp recent allowance optional claiming winner Tapwater, promising French-bred Neige Blanche, Irish-bred Red Lark, and long-fused French-bred Altea in what shapes up as a terrific betting race.
A two-time graded stakes winner at the current meeting for trainer Tim Yakteen, Mucho Unusual, a 5-year-old mare by Mucho Macho Man , out of the Unusual Heat mare Not Unusual, comes off a solid second going one mile on the turf behind rising star Charmaine’s Mia in the Feb. 20 Buena Vista (G2T) and should appreciate the additional quarter mile on Saturday.
A winner of the Rodeo Drive Stakes (G1T) five starts back here on Sept. 26, Mucho Unusual will be ridden by Flavien Prat. After a disappointing effort in the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1T), the bay scored back-to-back victories in the Robert J. Frankel Stakes (G3T) and Megahertz Stakes (G3T) over the Santa Anita turf. The leading money earner in the field with $862,715, Mucho Unusual, a four-time graded stakes winner, has an overall mark of 20-7-4-4.
Trained by Richard Mandella, Tapwater, in her first start since Oct. 16, stalked the early pace and prevailed by a neck in a one mile turf allowance optional claiming race here Feb. 12. Lightly raced, the 5-year-old LNJ Foxwoods homebred mare by Tapit has won two out of her last five starts, all at one mile on grass. With Prat opting to ride likely favorite Mucho Unusual, Mike Smith takes over as Tapwater tries a mile-and-one-quarter for the first time in what will be her first stakes assignment. With three wins and two seconds from eight overall starts, she has earnings of $142,940.
One of two Leonard Powell-trained entrants, Neige Blanche has been idle since a well beaten eighth in the Dec. 26 American Oaks (G1T) at Santa Anita. A hardy group 3 winner going 1 3/8 miles on turf in France, the 4-year-old showed ample promise in her first two stateside appearances, a close fourth in the Aug. 22 Del Mar Oaks (G1T) and a third place finish in the Sept.19 Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes (G1T) at Belmont Park.
Trained by Paddy Gallagher and owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, 4-year-old Red Lark comes off a fifth-place finish in the Buena Vista. An upset winner of last summer’s Del Mar Oaks, she ran a solid fourth in the American Oaks on opening day and is one who will benefit from a lively pace on the front end.
Previously trained by eastern-based Chad Brown, French-bred Altea, purchased for $200,000 by SF Bloodstock at the 2020 Keeneland November Sale, has yet to win for her new connections of owner MyRacehorse and trainer Mike McCarthy. The 6-year-old daughter of Siyouni finished third in her previous start in the Jan. 17 Astra Stakes (G3T).