Santa Anita Oaks 2015; Who Will Prevail on Kentucky Oaks Trail?
Santa Anita Oaks 2015; Who Will Prevail on Kentucky Oaks Trail?: This weekend will start with a bang at “The Great Race Place” on Saturday, April 4, where the scene is set for the 2015 Grade l Santa Anita Oaks at the Arcadia, California, racetrack. There will be eight fillies stepping it up in pursuit of a potential split of 100-40-20-10 points to be added to their rosters for a start in the 2015 Kentucky Oaks on Friday, May 1, 2015. The race is for three-year-old fillies and will be run over 1-1/16 miles for a purse of $400,000.
The Santa Anita Oaks is the seventh race on a card of eleven that includes the Grade III Providencia Stakes, the $200,000 Echo Eddie Stakes, the $200,000 Evening Jewel Stakes, the $75,000 Thunder Road Stakes, and, to top off the magnificent card of races, the 78th running of the Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby. The post time for the Santa Anita Oaks is at 3:00 p.m. PST.
There is an early first post time set for noon for the eleven-race card. This Saturday will not only provide fans with world class racing as some of America’s top three-year-old fillies and colts compete for their places in the starting gates on the first weekend in May, but Saturday’s lineup will also include some fantastic events with food trucks set up in the infield, dining, entertainment, fashion, and lots of wagering action.
Last year, the Santa Anita Oaks did not have much of an affect on the outcome of the 2014 Kentucky Oaks. The race was won by a daughter of Old Fashioned, Fashion Plate, for the barn of Simon Callaghan as the second favorite in gate-to-wire fashion with Bob Baffert’s Ria Antonia taking second as the wagering favorite. Fashion Plate went on to run eleventh in the 2014 Kentucky Oaks after being fractious in the gate, hopping at the start, running behind the field, and never posing as a true threat. Ria Antonia finished in sixth. Fashion Plate ran twice more last year, each time finishing in 9th and 5th. She has since been shelved with no recent works.
Well, I have to hand it to Santa Anita as this is one monster of a card for Saturday. There are some very full fields with some very classy horses, so get the wallet out. Kudos to Santa Anita! Let’s take a look at a few of these fillies and try to come up with the top three whom I think could steal the show. We have three sophomores coming in off the Grade lll San Ysabel Stakes, three going from turf to dirt after the China Doll Stakes, and two stepping up in class after optional claiming races. The three contenders coming from the San Ysabel Stakes, Stellar Wind, Light the City and Glory, are the only ones who have run at this distance of 1-1/16 miles and on this track.
The race is set up with some decent speed upfront with Light the City and Glory shooting from the one and two positions. I think someone from off the pace is going to win it, so I’m going to take a shot with the two coming from the optional claiming race who have both shown they can bide their time before pouncing. I’m also siding with a hopeful longshot from the turf to dirt angle.
Kari’s Picks: 5,7,4 (6)
Tale of the Cat has a nice daughter in Luminance who hails from the team of Bob Baffert, Kaleem Shah, and Martin Garcia. She will be making her second start following her recent layoff and is undefeated in two starts. She was a first-out maiden winner at five furlongs on July 20 of last year at Del Mar before being put on the shelf. She was next seen seven months later and fired fresh on February 28 in an optional claimer where she and Wild At Heart dueled in the stretch with Luminance prevailing by a nostril in the one-mile event. She’s been smoking up the training track, and I like the jockey/trainer combo, especially in huge stakes races like this one. I think Luminance is going to bring home the bacon and get a berth in the 2015 Kentucky Oaks.
Wild At Heart, from the line of Indian Charlie, hails from the Richard Mandella barn with her lone win on February 8 going seven furlongs on this track in which she stalked and once again dueled for the lead in the stretch to prevail by 1-3/4 lengths, garnering a nice Beyer speed figure of 97. She has done little wrong in her racing career that didn’t commence until January 10 of this year when she was second at 6-1/4 furlongs behind Glory, a filly she’ll face again in this race. In her last race against Luminance, they both tussled in the stretch, and Wild At Heart actually had her head out front in the stretch to take the lead but lost in the final furlong by a gut-wrenching nose. Flavian Prat gets the call again, and Papa Mandella will have her ready.
Ministers Wild Cat threw a nice daughter in Singing Kitty, who was claimed four starts back December 11 from the Steven Miyadi barn and is now trained by Matthew Chew. She has the most races under her belt in this field and has won on the dirt. Her first outing was on this track going five furlongs, and in that race she stalked, took over in the stretch, and was ridden out to a winning margin of 4-1/4 lengths. She followed that up with a few fifth-place finishes on the synthetic at Del Mar and a fourth at Los Alamitos on the dirt. Then, she won by 2-3/4 lengths in the race she was claimed from going six furlongs on the dirt at Los Alamitos. After the claim, Chew ran her three times on the turf at a mile, and she finished in seventh once before taking two first-place finishes. Last time out in the China Doll Stakes, she won in a very handy time of 1:35.09 for a mile on the grass. Can she successfully revert to the dirt? She seems to be of a versatile sort and looms as a big question mark. I’ll take a gamble with some hopefully juicy odds. Aaron Gryder stays in the irons.
The lightly raced star of the field Stellar Wind is a beautiful Curlin filly who blew away the field at this distance while beating Light the City and Glory, fillies she will be facing again, after a slow start in which she won by 2-3/4 lengths. Fresh off the private purchase and into the John Sadler barn prior to that win for Hronis Racing, she looks to be tough here again and should hit the board. Espinoza stays in the saddle.
A case could be made for every filly in this race. It looks to be a super tough field, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see any one of them win. I do want to note that Stellar Wind looks tough to beat and already has 50 points on the leaderboard for the Kentucky Oaks. Maybe Sadler won’t have her fully cranked? I wouldn’t leave her out of the exotics, but I’ll take a shot with Luminance, Wild At Heart, and Singing Kitty in a Pick 3 or Pick 4 which I will post the day of the race. May each of the ladies run quickly and safely.
*One thing to note from the China Doll Stakes, which was a mile on the turf, is that the fourth-place finisher of that race Maybellene went on to win the 2015 Sunland Oaks, albeit due to a DQ of Callback, and managed a huge race on the dirt.
Santa Anita Oaks 2015 Post Positions & Odds
Race #7 3:00 PM PT
1. Light the City 5-1 K.Desormeaux/J.Hollendorfer
2. Glory 8-1 R.Bejarano/J.Hollendorfer
3. Curlin’s Fox 4-1 M.Smith/C.Gaines
4. Singing Kitty 12-1 A.Gryder/M.Chew
5. Luminance 5-2 M.Garcia/B.Baffert
6. Stellar Wind 9-5 V.Espinoza/J.Sadler
7. Wild At Heart 8-1 F.Prat/R.Mandella
8. She’s a Big Winner 12-1 B.Blanc/P.Eurton