Santa Margarita – Grade I
SA Race #7 1 1/8m Dirt Graded Stake
Purse $400.000 For Fillies And Mares Four Years Old And Upward.
Atleast until the three year olds arrive and blow this lot away here we have one of the best fields of fillies and mares assembled since the BC last year. In what should be a cracker jack of a race we will find which of the older girls will try and stop the tide of the three year olds in a few months time.
1 Cheerful Goddess, trained by TwinTowersRacing
In such a stellar field it is hard to write off a 1.36 and 4 worker but with a field of this quality you have to be harsh and this one may just find this field too hot. A winner of five she is definitely improving and is a winner of her last two including a pretty impressive win last out in the ungraded Ladies Handicap. Sadly there is improving and there are miracles and she may just need a miracle to get passed these today.
2 On The Jersey Shore, trained by Spankys Barn
Third behind Cheerful Goddess in the Ladies handicap last time she gets a 3 Lb pull in the weights and will strip fitter putting her very close to her for this race. An easy winner of the Maple Leaf Stakes last November she is a nice sort but falls into the same category as Cheerful Goddess as far as her chances go in this above average field.
3 Whispering Nurse, trained by D J C Racing Stables
The best drawn of the heavyweights in this race she is a brilliant filly and has never been out of the first three in all her 14 races. That sort of consistency is freakish at HRP and when you look at her record of 7 wins, 4 of them being at graded level you have to get excited about her chances. Drawn a little deep in the BC Distaff she was gaining with every stride down the stretch and only failed by a head in the end after a difficult trip. After taking the grade one CCA Oaks and Cotillion prior to the BC she ended the season with a win in the grade one La Brea on Boxing Day and it must be noted that she beat her BC victor, Viking Vania in the Cotillion when they both had similar draws like today. She was a little off her game on her seasonal reappearance in the HOU Ladies Classic when behind Viking Vania and Dirty Deeds but her work since suggests she can turn the tables with a much better draw today.
4 Viking Vania, trained by Delta Farms
After watching the great tussles between Ginger Haggis and Shootfromthehip last year it is a mouth-watering thought that this filly and Whispering Nurse will go through the season taking victories off each other. This filly is marginally ahead at the moment having beaten Whispering Nurse in the BC and then repeating that victory with an impressive win in the HOU Ladies Classic at the end of January. Having been victorious in the last two meetings it would be easy to expect her to do it again today but it is worth noting that This filly has had the best of the draws in their meetings and the one time they were drawn alongside each other Whispering Nurse came out on top. I can’t separate these two great girls and i am sure they will swap places more than once this year so it really is all about which of them gets the best of the racing luck.
5 Sunset Black, trained by Team 7 Illusions
This five year old is in good form but in a field full of talent she may struggle to get in the top three. A stakes winner on the turf she switched to the dirt this year and dug deep to win a competitive overnight last month which was a good effort but as i said earlier this is a tough field and she may be battling for fourth place.
6 Wicked Heat, trained by EasyMoney Stables
This five year old mare looked a champion as a three year old finishing her season with a gallant victory in the BC Distaff. Like most four year olds she struggled a little last year but hit form in the summer winning the Matchmaker and then the grade one Rodeo Drive on the way to her BC defence. Starting the second favourite and strongly fancied she was a huge disappointment in the end finishing a well beaten 13th. She ran well on her seasonal reappearance running second in the La Canada Stakes but even then was a little disappointing but got back to somewhere near her best in the Santa Maria Stakes last time out when pushing Shake it Off pretty hard to be beaten three quarters of a length. There are still question marks but she was struggling last year and then turned it around so its not beyond reasonable to see her right in it at the end of this huge race.
7 Conspiring, trained by Mb Stables
In any other field this filly would be a stand out and though she is far from out of it she may need to find a length or two to be a winner today. She took HRP by storm after winning a maiden and an ungraded stakes in only her third race before an ultra game win in the grade one Hirsch Stakes beating Viking Vania and Shake It Off both of whom feature among the favourites for this race. She was drawn wide that day and went up on the pace just refusing to get beat and many including myself felt that that was one of the best performances of the year by any horse. She took an unusual route after that stupendous win taking on the boys in the Pacific Classic and though she was blocked a good few times still managed to get within three lengths of the winner. She tried again in the Awesome Again but a wide draw saw her bullied to the back of the field and she really ran no sort of race to finish last. Back against her own sex in the BC Distaff she ran much better to be sixth beaten just two lengths but looked like a filly who needed a break that day and she was duly put to the paddock for a couple of months. Her seasonal reappearance saw her take an overnight by a narrow margin which tells us very little about her chances here except that she will be fit and ready. If she gets on the speed and leads after halfway she may be very difficult to get passed and will definitely feature at some point in this race.
8 Shake It Off, trained by Smokey Stover
Just when you think there cant possibly be anymore great horses in this race we get Shake It Off who is another that on her day could easily take victory here. Twice a grade one winner at three she looked like she may be able to do the same at four after taking the Santa Maria Stakes on seasonal debut but after that she found it hard to win like all the other older horses and didnt get back in the winners circle all year. That may sound like she had a poor season but when you look at where she ran and where she finished it is soon obvious that though she didnt win she was very close to being the best of her sex. Beaten a head in the grade one La Troienne and a half length in the Hirsch Stakes she was third beaten only a quarter length in the BC Distaff putting her right on terms with all the great names in this race. Bought by Smokey Stover for $350.000 she took the Santa Maria Stakes again on seasonal debut and then just a couple of weeks ago recorded a sizzling mile work of 1.36 flat, a time which out works everything in this race. The wide draw is a put off as there really is so very little between these girls but if she is at her best she could easily make it two from two for the season,
I just dont know where to look in this field and its a mouth-watering prospect just to sit back and watch. Shake It off has that amazing work but an outside draw, Viking Vania is the reigning BC Champ and Whispering Nurse has a great draw at last. Then there is Conspiring and Wicked Heat to throw into the mix both of whom have the class and ability to win this. If pushed i would go for Whispering Nurse to win today but it really will have nothing to do with who is the best and everything to do with who gets the rub of the AI, the trip and where the track bias will sit.