Great Hot set for La Brea

ARCADIA, Calif. -- Great Hot had a milestone trip to Kentucky in October, winning the Grade 2 Raven Run Stakes at Keeneland. She was in the state for one start too many from the perspective of trainer A.C. Avila. He was left frustrated by her 11th-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4.

With those races in her recent past, Great Hot is being prepared for Saturday's $300,000 La Brea Stakes at Santa Anita. While the Grade 1 La Brea, run over seven furlongs for 3-year-old fillies, has a lucrative purse Avila is focusing on the race as a start to a winter-spring campaign that will keep Great Hot busy in coming months.

"She's not 100 percent, but she coming up," he said on Wednesday. "I've got a lot of spots I can go."

For Great Hot, races such as the $150,000 La Canada Stakes on Jan. 22 and $200,000 Santa Maria Stakes on Feb. 18, both over 1 1/16 miles, are also being considered. Plus, those races are not expected to include the three-time Grade 1 winner Turbulent Descent, who will be a strong favorite in the La Brea Stakes.

Turbulent Descent was fifth in the BC Filly and Mare Sprint as the favorite. Great Hot was bothered at the start, and raced within three lengths of the front after a quarter-mile before fading under jockey Chantal Sutherland.

"Chantal said when she left the gate, she wasn't comfortable," Avila said.

He said that Great Hot bled "a three out of five," a recurrence of an incident at Del Mar earlier this year.

A repeat of her performance in the Raven Run Stakes over seven furlongs would make Great Hot competitive in the La Brea, which drew a field of nine.

The race will not include the unbeaten California-bred Tiz Flirtatious, who won the Cat's Cradle Handicap at Hollywood Park on Dec. 11 in her stakes debut. She is more likely to start in the La Canada, trainer Marty Jones said on Wednesday.

"She's not ready" for the La Brea, he said. "I thought she'd recover a little quicker."