Ben's Duchess looking to bounce back in Santa Monica

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

January 20th, 2016

Ben's Duchess, who benefited from a hot pace to take the L.A. Woman (G3) in October but faltered in last month's La Brea (G1) using different tactics, will get a chance to make amends for the latter defeat in Saturday's $200,000 Santa Monica (G2) at Santa Anita, a seven-furlong dash that has attracted a field of nine fillies and mares.

A tracking fifth in the L.A. Woman as fractions of :21 1/5 and :43 2/5 were set, Ben's Duchess swooped to take the lead approaching the eighth pole and drew off to win by 3 1/4 lengths. The pace wasn't as fast in the December 26 La Brea, when Ben's Duchess found herself pressing an early pace of :22 3/5 and :45 1/5. The early exertion proved too much, though, and the daughter of Munnings weakened to fourth, four lengths behind the winning Birdatthewire.

Longshots appear most likely to help Ben's Duchess with the pace situation in the Santa Monica. Finest City also pressed the pace in the La Brea before retreating to sixth, while Lost Bus has shown flashes of speed in recent outings.

Grade 2 winners Prize Exhibit and Living the Life are out to prove they can handle dirt as well as their preferred surfaces. Prize Exhibit, who won the San Clemente H. (G2) at Del Mar last summer, kicked off 2016 with a 7-1 upset of the January 3 Monrovia (G2) going about 6 1/2 furlongs on Santa Anita's downhill turf.

Living the Life earned her signature win in the Presque Isle Downs Masters (G2) on the synthetic Tapeta surface in September, and though she finished second in the Great Lady M. (G2) at Los Alamitos last July, it's been her only placing in three attempts on dirt.

Also lining up in the Santa Monica are the New York shipper Room for Me, a multiple stakes winner and third to champion La Verdad in the $100,000 Interborough at Aqueduct last time; Tara's Tango, a close second to champion Stellar Wind in last June's Summertime Oaks (G2) but only fourth in the $98,000 Kalookan Queen most recently; and Kyriaki, last-out heroine of the $200,000 Treasure Chest at Delta Downs.

(Benoit Photos)