June 19, 2024

Finest City faces six in Great Lady M

Finest City and jockey Mike Smith win the Santa Monica Stakes (G2) on Saturday, January 21, 2017, at Santa Anita Park © BENOIT PHOTO

Champion female sprinter Finest City makes her fifth appearance of the year Saturday taking on six rivals in the $200,000 Great Lady M Stakes (G2) at Los Alamitos.

The City Zip mare captured her 2017 opener, the Santa Monica Stakes (G2), on January 21, but has been unable to score in three starts since.

Finest City ran second behind Vale Dori throughout the nine-furlong Santa Margarita Stakes (G1) in March before cutting back to seven furlongs for a neck runner-up effort in the Humana Distaff (G1) on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill Downs. Trainer Ian Kruljac sent her eight furlongs on June 3 in the Beholder Mile (G1) back at Santa Anita, but the five-year-old chestnut was a one-paced last of three behind champion Stellar Wind and Vale Dori.

Finest City is the defending champion of the 6 1/2-furlong Great Lady M, and brings jockey Tyler Baze along for the ride as she attempts a return to the winner’s circle.

Constellation is one of those lining up against Finest City. The Jerry Hollendorfer-trained four-year-old has never gone beyond seven furlongs in her 10-race career and keeps jockey David Flores in the irons here.

The duo first teamed up to take the City of Phoenix Stakes at Turf Paradise in Constellation’s first start for Hollendorfer last November. Prior to that, the Bellamy Road filly was saddled by Steve Asmussen to an 8 1/4-length victory in the 2015 Furlough Stakes and 10-length score in the 2016 Ruthless Stakes. She also placed in the 2015 editions of the Spinaway Stakes (G1) and Matron Stakes (G2) while under Asmussen’s tutelage.

After being transferred to Hollendorfer, Constellation recorded her 5 1/4-length win in the City of Phoenix Stakes and followed up with a half-length triumph in the La Brea Stakes (G1). The chestnut miss opened 2017 with a second in the Las Flores Stakes (G3) and enters the Great Lady M off a neck second in the Madison Stakes (G1) at Keeneland on April 8.

Pretty N Cool got the best of Constellation in the Las Flores on March 5, as well as the 2015 Matron at Belmont Park. The four-year-old gray earned a 102 BRIS Speed rating when second in the Vagrancy Handicap (G3) over a sealed, sloppy track at Belmont Park on May 5 and enters here off a three-week rest after finishing third in the June 18 Desert Stormer Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita for trainer Bob Baffert. Regular rider Martin Garcia has the call.

Also entered in the Great Lady M is stakes winner Skye Diamonds, who ran a half-length second behind Vale Dori last out in the 1 1/16-mile Adoration Stakes (G3) on May 7. Claimer Avicii has spent much of her 31-race career playing musical barns, and faces stakes rivals for the first time in this spot for trainer Peter Miller.

Stakes scorer Cuddle Alert finished behind both Skye Diamonds and Avicii in her past two. Dual turf stakes vixen So Sweetitiz completes the Great Lady M field.