While Santa Anita Park and its three Grade 1s is the center of Monday’s racing universe, the return of multiple graded stakes winner Sconsin to the track opens another window into a possible presence on the older female front.
The 5-year-old mare returns to the track for the first time in 8 ½ months Monday for the Grade 3 Winning Colors at Churchill Downs. The six-furlong sprint is the eighth race on Churchill Downs’ nine-race Memorial Day card.
It’s also one of Sconsin’s five career victories. She romped to a deceptively easy 3 ¼-length victory in this affair last year, coming off the pace in the final furlong. Sconsin’s 102 Equibase Speed Figure marked the first of four consecutive triple-digit Equibases she’d clock going forward.
The others? The 107 in her runner-up finish to Bell’s the One in the Black-Type Roxelana, a 103 in her fourth-place finish to Gamine in the Grade 1 Ballerina at Saratoga and her season-ending 107 back at Churchill Downs in the Listed Open Mind.
Sconsin a horse for the Twin Spires course
That September Open Mind score evened the score with Bell’s the One. Sconsin turned back her surging rival at the wire. It also illustrated how tough the daughter of Include is under the Twin Spires. Sconsin won four of her five career races at Churchill Downs, where she is 4-2-0 in seven starts. Elsewhere, Sconsin is 1-2-1 in eight starts. Her only win there is a maiden special weight victory at Fair Grounds in her second start.
How Sconsin runs away from the Twin Spires is one interesting storyline following her going forward in 2022. The other: can Sconsin break through at the Grade 1 level? She has a Grade 2 win on the CV, that coming at the Eight Belles on Derby Day 2020. But Sconsin has yet to hit the board in three Grade 1 starts. Her two fourths came at the Ballerina and at the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Spirnt.
The other? A seventh at the 2021 Madison at Keeneland – the worst finish in her career.
Saving her for the Winning Colors
Speaking of the Madison, trainer Greg Foley initially intended that early April race as Sconsin’s return. But he called an audible that gave his mare an extra month-plus off.
“Her setup this year is sort of the same as last year, getting the winter off,” Foley told Churchill Downs. “She took the winter off after she ran fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint in 2020. We brought her back in the Madison (last year) but decided to target the Winning Colors this year to start the year.”
With Gamine retired, there is a lot of jockeying for dominance among older distaff sprinters this year. Sconsin figures to be in the middle of that pack.