Ageless kicks off another campaign in competitive Monrovia
The about 6 1/2-furlong Monrovia is a very early stepping stone to the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1), which will be run over the same course and distance later this fall. Ageless was forced to miss the 2015 Turf Sprint at Keeneland in October after sustaining a deep cut below a hock while edging eventual Turf Sprint runner-up Lady Shipman in the $100,000 Franklin County at Keeneland three weeks before the Breeders' Cup.
In addition to her prowess against her own sex at such venues as Keeneland, Woodbine, and Pimlico, Ageless has held her own against males. Third last June in the Jaipur (G3) at Belmont, she was also a close fourth in the 2014 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint in her only previous attempt at Santa Anita.
The Wesley Ward-trained Shrinking Violet is back to defend her title in the Monrovia. The Congaree mare made four subsequent starts in 2015, winning only the $92,000 Daisycutter H. at Del Mar. Her most recent start, a poor try in the $298,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint on September 14 where she started as the 11-10 favorite, looks like a toss out as it was contested on softish ground.
Velvet Mesquite has been knocking on the door in various course-and-distance stakes over the past couple of seasons, placing in the last two editions of the Senator Ken Maddy (G3) as well as last year's Monrovia and Irish O'Brien. Others who have also proved capable over this unique trip are Baruta, who captured the October 25 Maddy by 1 3/4 lengths over Baruta, and Theatre Star, third in the Maddy after occupying the same slot in the Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint.
Stepping up to face older rivals for the first time is Singing Kitty, who captured the $86,000 Unzip Me and finished third in the Autumn Miss (G3) during Santa Anita's fall meet. San Clemente H. (G2) and Senorita (G3) heroine Prize Exhibit shortens after a belated, wide sixth in the one-mile Matriarch (G1) last time. French stakes winner My Year Is a Day, steadied at the start of an allowance attempt at Del Mar in late November, might improve in her second start for trainer Phil D'Amato.
(Ageless photo: Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club)