Monday, February 21, 2011

President's Day Stakes Action at Santa Anita

The President's Day holiday brings to the Great Race Place two graded stakes. First up is the Grade 3 La Habra Stakes for 3 year old fillies scheduled to go about 6.5 furlongs down the hillside turf course (though will it be actually run on the grass is questionable). Then an hour or so later, the Grade 2 Buena Vista Handicap going a mile on the grass for older fillies and mares goes off. Each race features at least on Grade 1 winner amongst their respective entrants. But Mother Nature has thrown a curveball into the mix. The large amount of precipitation that fell in Southern California last week definitely will have an effect on the races. While the Buena Vista will probably be run on the turf, albeit on a less than firm turf course, the La Habra might be run instead on the main track. Let's start with the La Habra.

The determination of whether or not the race will be run down the hill will not be made until Monday morning, but this blog thinks that the race will come off the grass, as the downhill portion of the turf course appears to take longer to dry out than the inner oval. Neither of the two prior Grade 1 winners would mind a switch to the main, as neither of them have run on the grass, and are not overly bred for it either. The #1 Rigoletta pulled a 32-1 shocker in winning the Grade 1 Oak Leaf going 1m & 1/16th over the Cushion Track at Hollywood Park. She was subsequently knocked out due to injury after that race, and has 5 works in two for her return. No matter which surface this race is run, it will be mark her first race over it, as she has run over solely synthetic in her career. The other Grade 1 winner is #3 A Z Warrior (right). This daughter of Bernardini won the Grade 1 Frizette at Belmont Park going a mile. After finishing dead last in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, she has been freshened for her 2011 campaign. She has several nice works for her return, including a bullet 5f work in 59 flat on 2/15. She beat Rigoletta when both were making their debuts in July 2010. A strong contender on either surface is #6 Bloemer Girl. This daughter of Bertrando won the Sweet Life Stakes at this very distance on the grass last time out in a race seriously affected by a loose horse (#7 She'll Heir). While the #6 has never raced over the dirt, her pedigree suggests that she will not have a problem with the dirt. The one worry with her is that she has not worked since her win in the Sweet Life on 1/22.

The Buena Vista Handicap goes a flat mile on the grass with 11 entrants + 2 also eligible. It is an evenly matched field, as shown by the tepid 4-1 morning line favorite in #11 Evening Jewel. This Grade 1 winner returns to the turf after winning the Sunshine Millions Distaff on the main track last month. She threw a solid work on the grass in the interim. She will struggle some breaking from the outside post, and her regular jockey Victor Espinoza will have to navigate a trip from out there. #5 Malibu Pier (right) returns to the grass after some mixed results on the main track. After running a solid second in the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes, she finished dead last in the El Encino Stakes. She has worked three times steadily in the interim, and seems to have bounced back from the poor effort no worse for wear. She has a good shot to work out a good stalking trip from her post. She gets in very light at a 115 lbs, 7 less than Evening Jewel and at least 2 lbs less than any of the other contenders. A horse who will be rolling from the back of the pack is #10 It Tiz. This daughter of Tiznow won a race that several of the competitors come out of, the Megahertz Stakes. Run at the same distance as the Buena Vista, It Tiz rallied from well off the pace to get up for the win. She has two good works in the interim and the race flow sets up will for her today. But will she find a way through without having to swing wide, especially with the rails at 15 feet?

Two solid stakes finish up the President's Day weekend at Santa Anita, and both hopefully will be on the grass. Who will use the La Habra as a springboard for bigger and better things? Who will win the Buena Vista to attempt to take control of the filly/mare mile division? We shall see. Good luck everybody!


  1. Dime -

    I'll be watching for these. I'm heading out for the Dover Downs simos. Those are great pics. Especially of the regal Malibu Pier.

    Are you compiling these into a photo album somewhere? Just wondering.

  2. TKS,

    Thanks for visiting. I've been considering creating one, but as of now, there is not an album. Maybe by the end of the meet one will be up.