A showdown looms on Saturday at Santa Anita as downhill turf specialists Mizdirection and Unzip Me clash once again in the Las Cienegas Handicap (G3).
Mizdirection, owned by a partnership that includes sports talk radio host and television personality Jim Rome and his Jungle Racing, got the best of Unzip Me last time out in the Monrovia Stakes (G3) back in January. The daughter of Mizzen Mast is conditioned by Mike Puype.
“She’s a good filly and she’s on her way up,” Puype said of Mizdirection, who worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s firm turf course Sunday in a bullet 59.80.“She’s doing well right now.”“Hopefully Mother Nature keeps us on the grass. She can run on the dirt too, if we have to do it, but it would be better if we don’t even have to cross that bridge.”
Marty Jones, who trains homebred Unzip Me for Harris Farms, Donald Valpredo, Per Antonsen and partners, offered little excuse for the 6-5 favorite last time. “She had a pretty good trip,” Jones said. “They were flying. They really set it up for someone from behind.”
With Garrett Gomez in the saddle at odds of 3-1, Mizdirection flew home late from well of the pace last time.The 4-year-old gray filly rallied from sixth to win going away. The outcome left Rome gushing after achieving his first graded stakes victory as a Thoroughbred owner.
“Garrett Gomez can host the show tomorrow,” he told Santa Anita Park Publicity. “Garrett can do my TV show; it’s Garrett’s world, whatever he wants. Garrett Gomez is burning. I’ve had a lot of really good things happen to me in business and in life, but nothing has ever felt as good as that, in a professional sense. . .I don’t know anything that’s ever felt that good.”
With Gomez riding at Keeneland on Saturday, Flores has been named to ride Mizdirection, who drew post position No. 5. Unzip Me must start from the less desirable rail coming down the hill.
Santa Anita Park Publicity contributed to this report.
Puype, Rome, Strauss, Solis in the winner’s circle/Benoit photo