A highly anticipated rematch of the GI Beholder Mile S. is on tap in Sunday’s GII Santa Maria S. at Santa Anita.
Ce Ce (Elusive Quality), an impressive 3 1/4-length breakthrough winner over ‘TDN Rising Star’ Hard Not to Love (Hard Spun) in that affair Mar. 14, just got up in time by a head after a very wide trip in a loaded renewal of Oaklawn’s GI Apple Blossom H. last time Apr. 18. Also previously under consideration for Belmont’s GI Ogden Phipps S. June 13, Ce Ce looks for her fourth straight victory in the Santa Maria.
The popular aforementioned one-eyed bay, meanwhile, an upset winner of the GI La Brea S. Dec. 28 and decisive winner of the GII Santa Monica S. Feb. 15, raced on the engine as the 3-5 chalk from a rail draw while making her two-turn debut in the Beholder Mile. Drawn again in that same slot again with Hall of Famer Mike Smith Sunday, Hard Not to Love worked a five-furlong bullet in :58 4/5 (1/49) May 24.
“She came out of the work really well,” trainer John Shirreffs said. “We had a little [racing] delay here, but other than that, she’s been running on a pretty consistent basis. I think that has helped her mature.”