Forced to miss the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) due to an entrapped epiglottis, unbeaten Dream Tree can still conclude her three-year-old season on a high note in Wednesday’s $300,000 La Brea (G1). Drayden Van Dyke rides the probable overwhelming favorite for Bob Baffert, who will seek to extend his La Brea record with an eighth victory.
One of five stakes on Santa Anita’s traditional opening-day, the seven-furlong test serves as a counterpart to the Malibu (G1) later on the 10-race card.
Dream Tree enters with a five-for-five record. An impressive winner of the Starlet (G1) in her juvenile finale, the Uncle Mo filly rolled to a convincing tally in the Las Virgenes (G2) when opening her sophomore season but was knocked off the Kentucky Oaks trail in March due to a physical setback.
She returned seven months later in spectacular fashion, registering a career-best 103 BRIS Speed rating for a 4 ¼-length romp in the six-furlong Prioress (G2) at Saratoga on September 2, and lost a viable chance for the championship female sprinter honors when forced to miss the Filly & Mare Sprint. Dream Tree shows four workouts this month in preparation.
Baffert will also send out Emboldened, who tries graded rivals off a 228-day hiatus. The lightly-raced daughter of Quality Road exits a 14-1 upset in her stakes debut, the Angel Flight at Santa Anita in early May, and Joe Talamo has the call.
Multiple Grade 3 winner Happy Like a Fool invades for Wesley Ward. Sixth in the Filly & Mare Sprint, the chestnut Distorted Humor filly exits a convincing allowance tally at Churchill Downs and adds the services of John Velazquez. Multiple California-bred stakes heroine Spiced Perfection returns to open company off a nice win in the November 11 Betty Grable at Del Mar and Flavien Prat will be up for Brian Koriner.
Other runners include Grade 2-placed Heavenhasmynikki, who has won three of her last four starts including a five-length score in the restricted First Lady at Mahoning Valley on November 10; and last-out allowance winners Cathedral Reader, Hot Autumn and Mo See Cal.
Perfect from five starts on Santa Anita’s turf, River Boyne will take some beating in $200,000 Mathis Brothers Mile (G2). Nine three-year-olds are set for the one-mile turf affair and River Boyne is the lone graded winner entered.
The Irish-bred son of Dandy Man captured the Twilight Derby (G2) over the course two back and has won a total of four stakes. River Boyne exits classy effort in the December 1 Hollywood Derby (G1) at Del Mar, missing by a half-length to the Chad Brown-trained Raging Bull. The Jeff Mullins-trained colt retains the services of Prat.
Multiple stakes victor Gidu ships in from the East Coast for Todd Pletcher. Shivermetimbers will try turf for Jerry Hollendorfer after posting a nice win over allowance foes and multiple graded-placed Combatant will switch back to the green for Steve Asmussen. French import Sejo tries graded rivals for new trainer John Sadler with a two-race win streak.