No Clear Favorite for Monrovia Stakes

Monrovia Stakes (Grade 2)- $200.000 Purse
SA- For Fillies and Mares Three Years Old and Upward
Six and a Half Furlongs on the Turf
May 28, 2018

Memorial Day brings us some good racing at SA, and part of that is the 14th running of the Monrovia Stakes, a turf sprint for older females. The field this year features eleven runners, with just one three year old in the field enjoying the three pound weight advantage. When this race ran last year, a three year old named Ranch went on to win for Racing Love. The race proved to be the final win of the career for Ranch, and the Racing Love barn would shut down just a few months later. They have not, at least for now, made the comeback that so often happens. It was the only graded win of the trainer’s career. Now, let’s see what happens in 2018 as we look at the field!

#1- Spirits Feronia (Straight Arrow, ridden by L H Colon)- This filly had a fantastic three year old season, finishing either first or second in ten of her eleven starts. The majority of those races were allowances and smaller ungraded stakes, but she would prove her meddle against tougher in the Grade 3 Buffalo Trace at KEE. She’s taken a liking to this distance a little more then five or five and a half furlongs, as she seems to want to come from off the pace. A couple longer attempts produced decent results as well. I like how she always seems to be near the front at the end.

#2- Blame The Grey (Mb Stables, ridden by E A Roman)- The trainer will have three in the race, and all of them seem to be capable of pulling out the victory. With Blame The Grey, we have a five year old mare that has won ten of 17 in her career, and those wins have been mainly in open allowances. She has been a few stakes attempts, all but one being ungraded, and she has yet to get a win in one of them. However, she also knows how to be near the front as not only does she have a nice winning percentage, but she has never finished out of the top four.

#3- Smokin Nebulae (Drabfantasy, ridden by R Bejarano)- A rather unexpected entry into this field considering all 17 of her races thus far have been at a mile or longer, including several recent races at a mile and a half. She has been successful at those distances, and that is where I would expect to be covering her. Instead, the trainer wants to change it up, and see how she handles this distance. She is known to be a closer, so I wonder if we are actually see her use some of that speed and go out to the front here. It will be interesting to watch her right from the gate.

#4- Improvisational (Mb Stables, ridden by Mario Gutierrez)- Surprisingly, she is the only three year old in this field, so her three pound advantage will helpful to her against everyone here. She is also lightly raced, having hit the track just three times thus far. Two are wins, one of which being the $75.000 Sweet Life Stakes. That race is much like this one, coming here at SA and at the same distance, but against a field that is no where the level of what she sees today. Didn’t like the soft turf in her last outing, and hopes to rebound here.

#5- Canadian Folk (Team 7 Illusions, ridden by G Franco)- It was around this time last year when Canadian Folk got real hot, winning four in a row at one point, including the Grade 2 Highlander at WO. After being acquired from Power Racing in private sales for $100.000, Canadian Folk ran five straight races on off tracks, something I found interesting. This year, she’s done very well in ungraded stakes, and looks to once again pick up a graded victory. She likes this time of year.

#6- Nice Laff Phooey (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by K J Desormeaux)- This four year old filly has been versatile, being able to win at sprint distances like this one day, as well as at twelve furlongs. It appears as though this type of race is her preference, and she has put together a couple of nice looking works over the last two and a half weeks. Has one stake victory to her credit, and that came right here, in January, at this distance in the SSM F/M Turf Sprint, for CA-breds. Trainer is always a threat on the grass.

#7- Balais Bruit (Drabfantasy, ridden by J Talamo)- It will be the 29th career start for this six year old mare, and she has enjoyed a fine career with twelve wins and qualifying for the BC Fillies and Mares Sprint. More recently, she has been running often against NM-breds, and has won two stakes with that condition during 2018. They don’t always attract big fields, and I am not sure if her recent run of SRF’s in the low 90’s will be able to see her to victory in this field, though she could rise to the occasion as well.

#8- Calling For Victory (Hambletonian Stable, ridden by G L Stevens)- The 30th start of her career will be a big one as it represents her graded stake debut. She’s won seven races so far, but if you took all the races where she missed by a length, you would probably have double that. Calling For Victory has been on good form, competing often lately at GG. She did pick up a win here in the $70.000 Wishing Well in February, which is also at today’s distance, but this is a far better crowd. Would have liked to have seen a better run in the $125.000 License Fee, since this race does feature the top two finishers from that race (Spirits Feronia and Canadian Folk).

#9- Heat Warrior (Canadian Racing, ridden by C S Nakatani)- Two races ago, Heat Warrior was racing at TUP, and picking up a win. Now, after a layoff of just over four months since a ten furlong open allowance run here on the turf, she is set to return. She looks a little inconsistent at first glace, but it seems to be more of a product of her not liking the longer races and of course we don’t need to worry about that here. This is still a big jump for her, and off the layoff, she is hard to pick.

#10- Broken Chai (Mb Stables, ridden by E Maldonado)- Last year was a great year for Broken Chai, winning four, with four more in the second position out of her nine starts. Didn’t win a graded stake in that time, but forth two SRF’s of over 100. This year, she has not quite been as profitable, starting with an attempt at ten furlongs in February that did not go well, but then scored two open allowance wins. That’s great to have, but for a horse that was second in the Grade 1 Matriarch to close out 2017, not exactly as impressive. Now, she can step up again at this level. Will be interesting to watch.

#11- What A Troublemaker (On The Map Racing, ridden by R J Albarado)- Claimed in September for $45.000, the four year old filly made a quick impression on his new trainer by winning the Grade 3 Valley View at KEE. The majority of her races had been at least one mile, but in the last two races, we have seen On The Map transition her to sprinting. She has remained at SA, running six and a half furlongs, with her best such effort being a third place finish in the SSM F/M Turf Sprit for CA-breds, a race won by Nice Laff Phooey. If she gets hot again, we could be hearing her name pretty often in the near future.

Prediction: 6-2-1-11

— NS

Categories: Grade II, STAKES ARTICLES

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