Glory takes on the establishment in Robert J. Frankel

Profile Picture: Kellie Reilly

December 26th, 2015

Sunday’s $100,000 Robert J. Frankel (G3) at Santa Anita features such established graded performers as Stormy Lucy, Rusty Slipper, Three Hearts, and Warren’s Veneda (in a rare turf start), which makes it a proper test of class for upwardly mobile blueblood Glory.

Trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer for Fox Hill Farms, Glory flashed talent early in the season and just missed as the 4-5 favorite in the February 7 California Oaks on Golden Gate Fields’ Tapeta. After subsequently disappointing on dirt, the Tapit filly switched to turf and has found her true home. That makes sense from a pedigree perspective, since she’s out of a Sadler’s Wells mare, her second dam is 2002 Matriarch (G1) heroine Dress to Thrill, and her third dam is Irish classic winner Trusted Partner. This is the superb Moyglare Stud family of recently retired Free Eagle.

An emphatic winner from off the pace in a dash over Santa Anita’s downhill turf, Glory stretched out to two turns and wired a second-level allowance at Del Mar November 7. This is another magnitude of challenge, and from post 12, but the sophomore could be ready for it. Tabbed as the 4-1 morning-line favorite, she keeps Hall of Famer Mike Smith in the saddle, and gets a seven-pound weight concession from 124-pound co-highweights Stormy Lucy and Rusty Slipper.

Stormy Lucy comes off a 65-1 upset of the November 29 Matriarch, and considering that she had dropped her previous eight in a row, a quick double may be unlikely. On the plus side, the rider switch to Kent Desormeaux may have galvanized her, and they renew the partnership here. Recall that the graded stakes veteran nearly won this race back in 2013.

Another past Frankel near-misser is Three Hearts, who was an unlucky third, beaten a neck, after traffic problems in last year’s running. The Neil Drysdale mare was most recently third as the defending champion in the 1 3/8-mile Red Carpet (G3) at Del Mar, where she changed tactics and tried to dominate on the front end. Three Hearts cuts back in trip to 1 1/8 miles on Sunday, but with other possible speed signed on, a return to stalking could be in the cards.

Rusty Slipper benefited from a well-timed move to take the Red Carpet. Although she doesn’t get the services of Silvestre de Sousa again, she’s already clicked well with James Graham. The two teamed up to capture the September 19 One Dreamer two starts back, accomplished in course-record time at Kentucky Downs. The Graham Motion trainee is winless from five tries over this course, including a sixth in the 2014 Frankel. Yet the daughter of Lemon Drop Kid is arguably stronger in this second winter sojourn in Arcadia. Motion also sends out Peace and War, who reverts to turf for the first time since her juvenile days in England. Best known as the winner of last fall’s Alcibiades (G1), the War Front filly hasn’t had success on dirt in the interim. Will a surface switch help, or is it just a case of peaking at two?

Hall of Famer Richard Mandella is likewise double-handed with the likeable Alexis Tangier and Brazilian import Gas Total. Alexis Tangier, a dual stakes winner over the course, garnered last year’s Unzip Me and annexed the October 3 Swingtime in her latest venture. Out of the prolific Cambiocorsa, Alexis Tangier promises to emulate her dam, and half-sisters Moulin de Mougin and Schiaparelli, as a graded stakes winner. That breakthrough could come as soon as Sunday. Gas Total is a more exposed character. Group 1-placed in her native Brazil, she finished second in both the Vanity (G1) on dirt and Possibly Perfect on this turf before scoring in Del Mar’s off-the-turf Osunitas on July 18. Gas Total trailed badly in a too-bad-to-be true effort in the September 2 Tranquility Lake, but is eligible to do better off the break.

Warren’s Veneda was on a tear last winter, romping in the Paseana, Santa Maria (G2) and Santa Margarita (G1), only to lose her form thereafter. Seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) last out, the California-bred goes back to turf for the first time in more than a year. She’s just 7-1-1-1 on the surface, so it’s no surprise that trainer Craig Lewis would love if the rains came, and the Frankel were transferred to the main track.

Other contenders include Gender Agenda, third in the Goldikova (G2) and fifth in the Matriarch in her last pair; John Sadler’s duo of Nancy from Nairobi, a new recruit from the English handicap scene, and Moss homebred Honey Ride; another well-bred sort in Star Act, who might improve off her sevenths in the Rodeo Drive (G1) and Red Carpet with the addition of Kieren Fallon; and class climbers Fresh Feline and Sweet as a Rose.

Earlier on the card, recent Jimmy Durante (G3) upsetter Family Meeting seeks to follow up in the $75,000 Blue Norther. Mirage, a troubled fourth in the Jimmy Durante, hopes for better luck with new rider Joel Rosario. The Oasis Dream filly has had more than her share of tough trips already in her brief career, when eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) and when awarded second place via disqualification in the Surfer Girl. Fellow Euro import Belvoir Bay, ninth in her U.S. bow in the Chelsey Flower at Belmont, starts afresh for new trainer Peter Miller. The one-mile turf event for two-year-old fillies has also attracted maiden winners Sweet Queen and Nikki’s Fine Time as well as allowance scorers Coniah and Exactamente.

Glory photo courtesy of Santa Anita/Benoit.