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Turbulent Descent headlines Las Virgenes
TURBULENT DESCENT (Congrats) puts her undefeated mark on the line Saturday while taking on six rivals in the one-mile Las Virgenes S. (G1) at Santa Anita. The Mike Puype trainee broke her maiden at the Oak Tree meet run at Hollywood Park, then remained at that venue to add the Moccasin S. and Hollywood Starlet S. (G1) to her resume. The bay lass is trying a conventional dirt track for the first time in the Las Virgenes, and retains the services of regular David Flores for her sophomore bow.
CALIFORNIA NECTAR (Stormy Atlantic) and MAY DAY ROSE (Rockport Harbor) will attempt to utilize their winning experience at Santa Anita to disrupt Turbulent Descent's perfect record. Trainer Doug O'Neill saddles California Nectar in this one off a front-running victory in the Santa Ynez S. (G2) going seven furlongs on January 15. The bay filly is no stranger to longer distances, though, as she just missed by a nose when second in last year's 1 1/16-mile California Cup Juvenile Filly S. That came one start prior to her fourth in the grassy, eight-furlong Miesque S. (G3) in late November. Patrick Valenzuela, aboard for two of California Nectar's three lifetime wins, has the call.
May Day Rose hasn't competed at anything less than 8 1/2 furlongs since early September. Her initial foray at that distance resulted in a 4 1/4-length score in the Sharp Cat S. at Hollywood, but the Bob Baffert pupil regressed a bit when fourth to Turbulent Descent in the Starlet. The bay miss quickly rebounded to take the Santa Ysabel S. (G3) last out and will keep Rafael Bejarano aboard for the Las Virgenes.
Three of the remaining four runners are exiting either the Santa Ynez or the Santa Ysabel. PLUM PRETTY (Medaglia d'Oro) tracked California Nectar throughout the Santa Ynez, but wound up third after being overtaken by ZAZU (Tapit) in the stretch. While May Day Rose faced off against Turbulent Descent in the Starlet, Zazu ran second to the probable favorite in the Moccasin and fifth in the Starlet. Zazu is hoping third times the charm under Joel Rosario on Saturday.
Santa Ysabel runner-up BLUEGRASS CHATTER (Bluegrass Cat) and last-out maiden winner TIZ THE ROUTE (Tiznow) complete the field.