ARCADIA, Calif. -- Black Mamba is a 6-year-old who does not really fit the modern stakes schedule. While most major stakes on turf are run between a mile and 1 1/4 miles, Black Mamba is best at longer distances, from 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 miles.
With her stamina, trainer John Sadler has little hesitation in starting Black Mamba for the first time this year in Saturday's $200,000 Santa Barbara Handicap over 1 1/4 miles on turf at Santa Anita.
The Grade 2 Santa Barbara will be Black Mamba's first start since a fourth-place finish against males in the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup over 1 1/2 miles last December.
"We were pretty proud of that race," Sadler said.
Black Mamba had a brief vacation following the Turf Cup and resumed workouts in February. She has had eight workouts to prepare for her comeback.
"She has a lot of stamina," Sadler said. "I think I've done enough to have her fit enough to run."
A New Zealand-bred owned by Doubledown Stables, Black Mamba has won 4 of 23 starts and $662,171. Last year, she won two major stakes - the Grade 2 Beverly Hills Handicap at Hollywood Park and the Grade 1 John Mabee Handicap at Del Mar. She lost the 2008 Santa Barbara by a nose to Foxysox, with both mares rallying from off the pace in a thrilling finish.
There may be an encore Saturday. Foxysox is part of the Santa Barbara field, which drew nine fillies and mares. The race also includes Magical Fantasy, winner of the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks last August, and Toque de Queda, who was third in the Grade 1 Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington Park last August.
Magical Fantasy is a threat from off the pace.
"There is a lot of speed in there," trainer Paddy Gallagher said. "She's been laying four or five lengths off them. She's been better in the last two or three starts. She's been laying closer."
Foxysox is making her first start since a second in the Grade 2 Buena Vista Handicap here in February. Foxysox has won six stakes.
Asked if she had any concern about Foxysox's layoff, trainer Carla Gaines had a quick answer. "No," she said.
Asked if Foxysox would win, she did not hesitate with a response. "Yes," she said. "She's doing great."