Santa Ana Stakes Preview: Horse-by-Horse Analysis of Saturday's Grade III Race @SA

Jockey Flavien Prat has another chance to notch a Graded Stakes win to awards wall in Saturday's Grade III Santa Ana Stakes. See what his chances are looking like, as J.N. Campbell previews the race!
Jockey Flavien Prat has another chance to notch a Graded Stakes win to awards wall in Saturday's Grade III Santa Ana Stakes. See what his chances are looking like, as J.N. Campbell previews the race!

1 1/4th (Turf), Santa Ana Stakes, Purse $100k, F&M 4+

There are rumors swirling that the Hillside Course at Santa Anita Racetrack might be making a comeback.

This unique configuration was used, before 2019, as the start for a 6½F sprint down the hill to the left, across the dirt surface, and down the lane. With all the poor press surrounding “The Great Race Place” that year, and after what was perceived as a catastrophic accident during a race, it was summarily closed. That may soon change…

A portion of the Hillside Course continued to be used from time to time for contests like the Santa Ana Stakes, which is a Grade III event possessing a nice history. Some famous SoCal winners include Megahertz, Malibu Pier, Stormy Lucy, Goodyearforroses, and Elysea’s World. Since the 2020 edition was cancelled due to COVID-19, it is pleasing to see this long route event back in action.

Now, let’s find out about this field…

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#1 Mucho Unusual (Jky: F. Prat/Trn: T. Yakteen):

Mucho Unusual #1 is one of the top turf routers in SoCal, and she continues to come into her own off a 2nd place finish last time in the Buena Vista (G2). Going longer seems to be what she was meant to do, so entering this spot, she is going to be very difficult to beat. Flavien Prat rides her, and that means she will be an even shorter price when post time rolls around. What is gratifying is seeing Tim Yakteen have mucho success with this mare.

Grade: A-

 

#2 Silberpfeil (Jky: T. Baze/Trn: L. Powell):

Leo Powell has a couple of entries in this race, and the first, Silberpfeil #2. She looks to be severely outclassed coming into this spot, especially when you look back over her form. Back in Italy and France, she plied her trade in a range of Handicaps with mixed results. I look at her as one of those imports that someone was trying to quickly unload on an unsuspecting American. Powell’s outfit has some nice turf runners for routes like this one, mind you, but I am not sure this is one of them… yet. If you are wanting a big price and you like the riding ability in these deep routes of one Tyler Baze, then this is your play.

Grade: C-

 

#3 Going to Vegas (Jky: U. Rispoli/Trn: R. Baltas):

Like Powell, trainer Richard Baltas has his fair share of runners entered here as well. Going to Vegas #3 represents one of his up-and-coming turf stars who is entered in more and more “Graded” events like these. For a newly-minted 4-yr-old, this filly has shown excellent ability, coming in 2nd 3/4 contests that ranged from the Red Carpet (G3) @DMR to the American Oaks (G1) @SA. Getting Umberto Rispoli to ride is a gem of an idea, especially since he handles these distance races so well. Even though this daughter of Goldencents took a step back in the Buena Vista (G2) last time, I think the stretch out will be just the ticket to get her back on track. She will be around towards the wire… count on it!

Grade: B+

 

#4 Tapwater (Jky: M. Smith/Trn: R. Mandella):

Trainer Richard Mandella has possessed some quality turf horses over the years, and he is trying to get this Tapit mare to come through in a class hike challenge for his clients, LNJ Foxwoods. Tapwater #4 is extremely talented and of course, well-bred, so it looks like at some point she is going to power through the competition and come up with a victory. I am not sure it will be today, especially with such an accomplished field. Still, she is one to watch with the HOF jockey Mike Smith riding. Heading from 1-mile OC62.5 turf affair into this Grade III, will not be an easy one. Growing pains might be in this equation, unfortunately.

Grade: B-

 

#5 Red Lark (IRE) (Jky: R. Gonzalez/Trn: P. Gallagher):

Paddy Gallagher has a reliable router that can extend out in races such as these. Red Lark (IRE) #5 shipped to Keeneland back in the fall for the QEII Cup (G1) by invite, and she finished 4th, but that was a gritty field. She never got comfortable in the American Oaks (G2), and the Buena Vista (G2) was not her bag either. Now, Eclipse Thoroughbreds is hoping she is ready to up her game in this deeper route. I like her chances, and think her level of fitness has never been as good as it is right now. Jockey Ricardo Gonzalez continues to have a solid SA Meet. Don’t underestimate his abilities. Price should be right…

Grade: A-

 

#6 Neige Blanche (FR) (Jky: JJ Hernandez/Trn: L. Powell):

Leo Powell’s other entry does look more in form, but I am not sure if Neige Blanche (FR) #6 is sharp enough to come into this spot. She has not been seen since the American Oaks (G1) where she finished a distant 8th. Before that she attempted to take on the field in the Belmont Oaks Inv. (G1), which resulted in a respectable 3rd. Powell knows how to prepare a runner, and there is no question she has some nice Euro bloodlines. I like the JJ Hernandez call since he continues to chase that jockey crown. What a win this would be, if this filly could power through for the win. Not likely, in my estimation.

Grade: C+

 

#7 Altea (FR) (Jky: A. Cedillo/Trn: M. McCarthy):

The folks at MyRacehorse.com have obtained the rights to Altea (FR) #7. She is a runner that has turned into a member of Mike McCarthy’s able-bodied stable. Now, a 6-yr-old mare, there was a time when she was challenging the very best in the filly turf division under Chad Brown. Those days are gone, but she still retains some of the spark from the old days. After 2 races under McCarthy, she has not fared too poorly. Last out, in the 1 ½F Astra Stakes (G3) she was 3rd. If Abel Cedillo can build on that effort, guiding her along in this cutback, maybe they both can spring the upset. Whether she can game with the favorites is the real question… Staying close will allow her to avoid traffic, and possibly make a giant run down the lane. Hope springs eternal…

Grade: B-

 

#8 Colonial Creed (Jky: M. Gutierrez/Trn: R. Baltas):

Last time in the Megahertz (G2), going a mile on the turf against Mucho Unusual #1, this mare, Colonial Creed #8 was disappointing. She didn’t have her best fastball. My sense is that Richard Baltas is trying to fly too close to the sun. She has talent, but I do not think of Jimmy Creed as a turf sire. The Scat Daddy does make sense, but still, she clearly has difficulty ever since she dove into these types of races at Del Mar in late November. I am non-plussed by her, Baltas (who is also a part-owner), and Mario Gutierrez. I never think of him as an elite turf jock, or even as an average one. Probably best to look elsewhere on this board.

Grade: C

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