It Will Be Tough for In Z Balance to Repeat in Santa Ana Stakes

Santa Ana Stakes (Grade 2)- $200.000 Purse
SA- For Fillies and Mares Four Years Old and Upward
One Mile and One Eighth on the Turf
March 18, 2018

A field of ten is going to the starting gate for the 13th running of the Santa Ana Stakes, which is a nine furlong event on the SA Turf. It is a race that will feature the defending champion of the race, In Z Balance. Last year, this filly was very impressive in her win, and set a record for the quickest edition of the stake thus far. Both the trainer and the jockey are the same for this attempt, and the mare is still in good form. Others will look to take the crown away from her in what looks like a very competitive field. Let’s take a look at all of our runners!

#1- Hide N Seek Pup (Gdp Inc, ridden by F Prat)- Since the trainer started administering bute, this five year old mare has seen her career take off from running in open allowances or optional claimers, to the stake ranks. She has two wins and two places in this four starts, and her most recent performance was her best yet when she won the Grade 3 Suwannee River at GP last month, defeating In Z Balance in the process. She looks to make another step forward here is capable of having everyone chasing her in the stretch.

#2- Feel The Thunder (Mb Stables, ridden by R Bejarano)- As a two year old, Feel The Thunder competed in the BC Juvenile Turf, and ran fourth. The trainer hoped that she would be able to transition to the main track as a three year old, and while she was not bad, that did not pan out, and she ended up resuming her career on the grass late last year. She’s riding a two-race winning streak heading into the race, including the Grade 2 Goldikova Stakes on the BC undercard in November, but not racing again until late January, where she won an open allowance. SRF numbers show an impressive level of overall consistency.

#3- Minnesotalus (The Sidley Stud, ridden by T C Baze)- This four year old Zyzoxolus filly has five wins in 16 career starts, and prepares to make her 2018 debut in this race. We last saw her at this race track in late December winning the Grade 3 Frankel Stakes, and earning a career high 100 SRF in the process. Despite that effort, she’s taken two and a half months off, so will be well-rested for this race. That could turn out to be very beneficial for her in the long run, as she did make eleven starts in 2017. Might need a race to get back into top form.

#4- Miss Darna (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by Mario Gutierrez)- Early in the year last year, Miss Darna had some good runs on the main track for her prior trainer, but it was not until she was in the hands of Maxmillion Farm where she would be at her best. The trainer acquired her in the June 2017 auction for $70.000, and has exclusively raced her on the turf. Right away, she started picking up better finishes, but it was the last race that is her best triumph this far, taking the Grade 3 Marshua River at GP in January. No reason to think that she can’t follow that up well here.

#5- In Z Balance (Diablo Diablo, ridden by N Arroyo Jr)- Last year’s winner returns to the scene of what is the last race that she has been able to win. Don’t get the wrong impression from that, as In Z Balance has remained consistent with two runner up performances in Grade 1 Stakes last year. So with a little more luck, In Z Balance could be boasting a lot more success. She participated in the BC Fillies and Mares Turf last year, and ran second to Hide N Seek Pup in the Grade 3 Suwannee River at GP last month.

#6- Jaxartosaurus (Chili King Stables, ridden by K J Desormeaux)- This is a filly in need of a breakthrough victory. Her last four starts have seen her place second twice and third twice. Finding the winners circle has been elusive at the stake level. You have to like that she has been competitive in these races, but if the win isn’t happening in races like the $130.000 OK Classics Filly and Mares Turf, then it’d be an upset for her to win here. Should be considered in exotics, though.

#7- Good Line (Mb Stables, ridden by E Maldonado)- Speaking of winning, victories are not elusive for Good Line, as the Decima filly has won over half of the races that she has run in (6 of 11) for her career. One of which, as you may recall, came when the lights shined on her the brightest, becoming a BC Champion in the Fillies and Mares Turf. She was a bit of a longshot for that race, going off at 11/1. She has only raced once since, and it was simply an optional claimer as a freshener last month. You get the feeling this race is the official start for her 2018 campaign, and I feel she is the one to beat.

#8- Sassy One (Smokey Stover, ridden by J Talamo)- We recently saw this filly change hands, as Smokey Stover showed high degree of faith in her, purchasing Sassy One from D J C Racing Stables for $300.000 on the last day of February. She’s also won over half of her races, taking nine of 16, but much of that comes in a stretch where she won eight of nine in the first half of 2017, where she stayed in a comfort zone of ungraded stakes, before being moved up later in the streak. She won both the Grade 3 Lake George and Grade 2 Lake Placid at SAR last year, showing she could move up. Nearly won the Grade 1 American Oaks here in December, and did win the Grade 3 Endeavour BC in her last start. Now, we’ll see what Smokey Stover can do with her.

#9- I Billieve (Sharis Stables, ridden by C S Nakatani)- It ended up being a good omen for the trainer when I Billieve won the Grade 2 San Clemente Handicap around the time that NFL Training camps were beginning. After all, the Bills actually made the playoffs. Unfortunately, I Billieve didn’t really follow up that victory quite as well with three consecutive off the board finishes. That saw her dropped in class to an optional claimer, and she recovered well with a win. The last race, though, concerns me a little.

#10- Changing (Hambletonian Stable, ridden by M E Smith)- After finding success in allowances and optional claimers, Changing will be appearing in her first stake race of any variety in this race. Since being purchased in the December auction for $25.560, Changing has taken a liking to going a mile on the grass, and she is two-for-two when running in Hambletonian silks. She’s asked for a little more distance here then she’s handled before, but I am not concerned about that. This post, though, can’t make me optimistic.

Prediction- 7-8-1-4

— NS

Categories: Grade II, STAKES ARTICLES

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