May 5, 2015
There are a series of stakes races in Southern California for the older fillies and mares that have come to mark the right of passage for the upper echelons of dirt racing and the Grade I Vanity is crucial to that series with its spot right in the middle of May, during the Triple Crown season. Raced at nine-furlongs at HOL and now, at SA, it has been a huge stepping stone for some of the best mares in America since 1940 with the likes of Busher, Honeymoon, Next Move, Bewitch and Gamely taking editions before the advent of the Breeders Cup brought along the likes of Princess Rooney, Bayakoa, Paseana, Jewel Princess, Escena, Azeri and the immortal Zenyatta as its recent winners with championship credentials.
At HRP, it has never really been a huge milestone for many of the winners and served as the lone Grade I win for its first four champions, from Suzie the Floozie through Christmas, and it was not until Better Miss in 2010 that the race took on some major status when that former BC Distaff champion proved the best. KY Oaks winner Rhythm Line used the Vanity as part of a huge winning streak in 2011 while both Golden Chance and Stella Artois were proven Grade I winners before taking down victories in their respective years to further enhance the reputation of this now $300.000 event. This year, another pair of Grade I winners will match wits in a field of five assembled and while the big shooters might be awaiting the more lucrative Phipps Stakes at BEL, this race should still prove to be entertaining with a big payday on the cards for one.
1-Years Go Bye (Four-year-old chestnut filly / Owner-D J C Racing Stables)
The turf has been very kind to Years Go Bye in recent starts with a pair of stakes victories and a fourth in the BC F&M Turf but a lackluster sixth in the Grade II Fox at GP will put her behind the best as she steps up in class and the move to dirt is another factor that cannot be ignored. She does post some solid speed ratings and does have experience going this nine-furlong trip with a good second in the GP Oaks last year but everything has been on the grass as of late and unless she can transfer that form, her closing kick will not be as effective when she gets a chance to stretch her legs at the top of the lane.
Analysis-Inside draw will need to transfer her turf form
2-Ryder (Four-year-old chestnut filly / Owner-Mb Stables)
In four Graded Stakes attempted, Ryder has one victory and three off-the-board finishes and while those were against her own division, the numbers are not in her favour and she will need to improve upon a second at PIM in allowance company if she hopes to take down her first top-class win. Her workouts have been quite good and she has the ability to set all of the fractions and keep right on running but her first trip to the West Coast might be a little too much for her to handle against this level and her best hope is to set a slow pace, relax and try to find the wire first.
Analysis-Knows how to win but not quite at this level
3-Chili King (Five-year-old black mare / Owner-Sanny Village)
A multiple Grade I winner at three, it took Chili King almost all of her four-year-old campaign to provide another top notch victory for her connections but a score in the Grade II Falls City, coupled with a track-record score in an allowance prep at PIM, make her a huge contender in her move back to SA. Her first start off the layoff was quite amazing and she has some of the best speed ratings in the field but the main factor in her favour is class and at this level, she knows how to win and that is a huge asset against a field of untested talent, especially going a longer distance.
Analysis-Grade I winner could win this on class alone
4-Vegas Gal (Three-year-old bay filly / Owner-Wolfs Den)
It is rare for three-year-olds to take on older rivals this early in the season, with so many races restricted to their age group, and unfortunately for Vegas Gal, she is not a superstar in waiting and as such, will be hard pressed to upend seasoned veterans at the Grade I level. Her last race with the addition of Lasix was only against two rivals and she still could not win, or crack a 90-speed rating, and going a route of ground with this weight will be too tough a task for her and the hope is that she can keep up with the field late.
Analysis-Cannot see her winning this in any sense
5-Devil Wears Prada (Four-year-old chestnut filly / Owner-Maverick Racing)
A Grade I winner of more than $1000.000 last year, Devil Wears Prada has never really garnered a huge amount of respect, especially with the class of company she faced last season, and after faltering as the favourite in the Grade I Apple Blossom, and changing hands for a paltry $10.000, she will try to regroup against four reachable rivals. A return to her win in the Grade III Comely is both quick enough and classy enough to win this race and the only fear is a lack of a recent workout, which might mean that her fitness is not up to par with others and that she might be hard pressed to get the distance unless the fractions are slow.
Analysis-The only one beating her is herself
There are too many question marks with the Grade I Vanity Stakes field to make a solid prediction, with one coming off a major spell on turf, another coming in off much easier races and another coming in with, well, questionable form, and that leaves the two Grade I winners as the two likeliest heroines. Devil Wears Prada does come in off a fifth place finish in the Grade I Apple Blossom but has the best recent races and has kept the best company and with an outside post, she can dictate her own fate and that makes her a slight choice over Chili King, who took forever to win last season and might be off to another slow start despite a solid win to start her five-year-old campaign.
Win-Devil Wears Prada (9/5)
Place-Chili King (2/1)
Show-Years Go Bye (8/1)
Triple T Racing 🙂
Categories: Grade I