Santa Anita Day brings together a solid card of action in support of the big race. Three graded stakes will help enhance the big day. First, older female sprinters will go down the hill in the Las Cienegas Handicap. Then older males go a mile on the grass in the Grade 2 Arcadia Stakes. Then three year old filles will go a mile and an eighth on the grass in the Grade 2 Providencia Stakes. Throw in the appearance of First Dude in allowance race (finally!) and this card lends good support to a big day. Let's start with the Las Cienegas Handicap.
This Grade 3 race down the hillside turf course marks the 2011 return of blog favorite Tanda, who has not raced since her trouble-filled third in the 2010 Grade 1 Acorn Stakes. She is two-for-three down the hill, with her only loss coming when she finished second to Rose Catherine, who would go on to be the second betting choice in the 2010 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint. Tanda struggled to shake a foot bruise this winter, which cause her to miss the Grade 1's La Brea Stakes and Santa Monica Stakes earlier in the meet. She is over the issue, and has been working regularly towards this race. She may not be fully cranked, as this could be a prep race for something down the road, such as the Grade 1 Humana Distaff on the Kentucky Derby undercard. But the favorite will be Unzip Me. This daughter of City Zip owns this turf course, with 5 wins in 6 races, with her only lose the being her first race down the hill. She has been undefeated against females in her last 11 starts, with her only two losses being against males. She already won two stakes down the hill this meet. Her success causes her to tote 127 lbs. today, 8 more than Tanda and 10-12 more than the rest of her competitors. She figures to be right upfront, and will try to continue her winning ways. These two tower over the field, and figure to dominate the wagering.
The next stake is Grade 2 Arcadia. Caracortado (right) will be the favorite to once again hold off Jeranimo, who he has bested twice this meet. "Scarface" is coming off a narrow defeat in the G1 Kilroe Mile last out. He seems to have maintained his fitness. He figures to rally from off the pace. Jeranimo will try once again to turn the tables on him. He worked well in the interim, and reunites with top jock Rafael Bejarano (who was on the winner in the Kilroe). Both will have to catch Liberian Freighter, who figures to get an easy lead. He threw in a clunker last time against the top two, but maybe was a little too fresh off the 3 month layoff. He comes back with three steady works, and should be able to control the tempo on the front end. He is a dangerous threat to wire this field.
The last undercard stake is the Grade 2 Providencia Stakes. These three year old fillies go a mile an one-eighth, a distance no one in the field has gone. Five of the 9 entrants begin their career across the pond in Europe. The favorite will be Cambina. This diminutive filly with the powerful kick won the last two stakes for this group, the Grade 3 La Habra and the China Doll Stakes. She blasts from the back of the pack, and her two works in the interim shows she has not lost a step. So Belle ran a good race in her first race in the U.S. last out, finishing second. Her pedigree suggests that the added distance will not be a problem. She figures to stalk a solid past in her 2nd start in the states. An interesting longshot is Hard To Resist (right). This daughter of Johannesburg rolled from the back of the pack into a slow pace to break her maiden last time out. She has maintained her good form since, and keeps leading rider Joel Rosario in the irons.
So there are some thoughts on the Santa Anita Derby undercard stakes. These races provide some good support to the feature. Can Tanda return to form off the layoff? Can Jeranimo finally turn the tables on Caracortado? Can Cambina keep it rolling? We shall see. Good luck everybody.