If Anjaz makes it to the starting gate Saturday, it will be the end of a six-month odyssey for the 5 year old.
The mare’s last race was a second-place finish in the Waya Stakes at Saratoga in August and attempts to get the horse back on the track have been thwarted by extenuating circumstances.
Anjaz was scheduled to run in the Great Falls Stakes in September, but a switch off the grass forced a scratch. Her attempt to run at Belmont was spoiled by a bruised foot before the race. The last straw came in December when the La Prevoyante at Calder was taken off the schedule.
“She’s never really missed a beat since her last race,” Anjaz trainer Tom Albertranisaid. “She’s pretty fit.”
Saturday’s Grade II Very One at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach is the next chance for Anjaz to hit the grass, and with no rain in the weekend forecast, the 11-furlong race, which is equivalent to a mile and three-eighths, should stay on the turf.
It will be unfamiliar territory for Anjaz, the third-choice listed at 5-to-1. She will have a new rider in Jose Lezcano and an unfavorable post position. The horse will break from the seventh position in the eight-horse field, an outside position which could pose a problem in the race. Anjaz has stalked the lead in the past two races and it will take a lot more energy for her to get to the lead from where that starting position.
Albertrani said he’s not fazed by the position because she isn’t too far outside compared to the rest of the field. He added he has complete confidence in Lezcano despite the fact the jockey has never ridden the horse before.
“He’s an adaptable jock,” Albertrani said. “He rode Twilight Eclipse for the first time and won, so as long as this filly runs the type of race she’s run in the past, we’ll be fine.”
Twilight Eclipse is the morning-line favorite in the Grade II Mac Diarmida later Saturday at 5-2. Lezcano has the mount on the 5-year-old gelding after guiding him to a seven-length win in the W.L. McKnight Handicap at Calder in December.