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Is this gal classy or what? Class Included!

November 1, 2012     E-mail this page to a friend!

Class Included has settled in well at her Santa Anita digs.
(photo by Robert Cooke, Jr.)
Story by Karen Svea Johnson

Super filly Class Included is only four years old—and a filly, to boot—so fans have to be patient while she finds “her” distance.

She’s hit the track 16 times for dirt races from 5-1/2 furlongs to 1-1/8 miles, won 10 of those, and come in second the other six times. She’s proven she’s not only classy but also versatile. (See for more information about this runner.)

So when 78-year-old Washington Hall of Fame trainer Jim Penney decided he’d match his star against the best in Thoroughbred racing, he cross-entered her for the 7-furlong Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint and the 1-1/8-mile BC Ladies’ Classic.

At entry time, he opted for Friday’s $2,000,000 BC Ladies’ Classic. Assistant trainer Kay Cooper explained the decision when we visited the Penney stable on the Santa Anita backside.

“Six of her races have been at the 1-1/8-mile distance, and she won five of those and just missed in the other one,” Cooper explained. (Her second-place finish was in the 2011 Ballerina Stakes at Hastings Racecourse; she got revenge by winning this year’s edition of the event.)

“When she’s never been worse than second in a race, it’s hard to say what’s a bad distance for her, but we decided the Classic was where we’d put her.”

With eight entered in the Classic and 10 going to post in F&M Sprint, it looks like Class Included might have fewer traffic problems than she would have had on Saturday against two more competitors and with two fewer furlongs to find racing room.

Jockey Russell Baze, another Washington Thoroughbred Hall of Famer, offers further assurance of a clean trip. He’s piloted the filly three times previously, all at the 1-1/8-mile distance, winning twice and coming up just a neck short in the 2011 Ballerina.

Class Included’s connections have also tried to make their star comfortable by giving her plenty of time to acclimate to Southern California and to Santa Anita’s unique track surface.

“She’s very sound, extremely sharp” after two official works, said Cooper. “She’s accepted everything, and she just loves the paddock! I take her over there and it’s like talking a walk in the park.”

With luck, fans in TRJ territory will be watching to see how she enjoys her walk to the winner’s circle, too!