INGLEWOOD, Calif. (May 8, 2009) — Carlsbad, a sensation in Arizona before scoring an impressive win in the Santa Paula Stakes to maintain a perfect record in her Southern California debut, will test unbeaten Witty and seven other 3-year-old fillies in Sunday’s $100,000 Railbird Stakes at Hollywood Park.
Carlsbad won her first four starts — all at Turf Paradise — by a combined 50 ¾ lengths before registering a 3 ¼-length victory in the Grade III Santa Paula at Santa Anita Park in March.
She will face her toughest test in the seven-furlong Railbird on Cushion Track, including Witty, winner of her only two starts for Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, who will be aiming for a record fourth victory in the Grade III event.
So far, Witty compares favorably with Mandella’s three previous winners — She’s Tops (1992), Supercilious (1996) and Brulay (1998).
“She’s given us reason to be excited about her possibilities,” said Mandella, who is tied with D. Wayne Lukas for most Railbird victories.
Victor Espinoza, who won the 2003 Railbird on Buffythecenterfold, has the call on Witty. The field will line up as follows from the rail out:
Pretty Unusual, with Rafael Bejarano up, will carry 123 pounds; Will O Way, Jesus Rios, 121; Carlsbad, Tyler Baze, 121; Lady Lumberjack, Joel Rosario, 115; Ultra Blend, Jose Valdivia Jr., 121; Strawberry Tart, Mike Smith, 117; Music Magic, Alex Solis, 115; Witty, Espinoza, 117, and Burg Berg, Aaron Gryder, 117.
Carlsbad, owned and bred by Dennis Weir and trained by Ral Ayers, broke her maiden last October before winning the Arizona Breeders’ Futurity by 14 ¼ lengths and the Arizona Juvenile Filly by 19 lengths. She was a 13 1/4-legnth victor in the Arizona Oaks in her 2009 debut.
Ultra Blend, the runner-up in the Santa Paula, has won four of seven starts for trainer Art Sherman; Strawberry Tart, trained by Jeff Bonde, finished fifth in her career debut last July at Solano, but won her two previous 2009 starts by a combined 19 ¾ lengths at Oaklawn Park; Pretty Unusual scored a 9-1 upset in the Melair here opening weekend; Lady Lumberjack broke her maiden one start after finishing fourth in the Santa Ysabel and was second behind Witty in her most recent start; Will O Way won the California Oaks at Golden Gate Fields in January, and Magic Music steps up to stakes company while aiming for her second win in five starts.
The Railbird will run as the eighth race on Sunday’s nine-race program at Hollywood Park. First post is at 1 p.m.
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