On paper, it appears every horse is running for second against 1-5 morning line favorite Unique Bella in Saturday's Santa Ysabel Stakes for three-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles.
But they still have to run the race, which is why Joe Talamo, who has ridden Abel Tasman in each of her four career starts, winning the last three in a row including the Grade I Starlet at Los Alamitos, has an optimistic outlook for the Grade III event.
“(Jerry) Hollendorfer has a real nice filly in Unique Bella, but I know one thing: my filly's been training really well. I worked her a couple times and tracked a workmate four or five lengths behind and we passed her and galloped out really good, so we'll see.”
Abel Tasman's lone loss came in her debut when she got off slow and finished fifth by nearly 12 lengths in a six furlong sprint at Del Mar last August.
“She was always one that needed to route,” Talamo said of the bay daughter of Quality Road trained by Simon Callaghan for China Horse Club or Clearsky Farms, also the breeder.
“It was her first race, she was going short, but after that she stretched out to a mile, won going the seven-eighths and then the Starlet at a mile and a sixteenth.”
The Santa Ysabel, race six of 10: Unique Bella, Mike Smith, 1-5; Tap It All, Santiago Gonzalez, 20-1; Spooky Woods, Flavien Prat, 20-1; Mistressofthenight, Corey Nakatani, 30-1; What What What, Rafael Bejarano, 6-1; Noted and Quoted, Martin Garcia, 6-1; and Abel Tasman, Joe Talamo, 5-1.
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