Balanced Field in Santa Maria Stakes

Santa Maria Stakes (Grade 2)- $200.000 Purse
SA- For Fillies and Mares Four Years Old and Upward
One Mile and One Sixteenth on the Dirt
May 30, 2020

A field of eight will be heading to the starting gate for the 15th running of the Santa Maria Stakes, a race that was at one time a Grade 1, but since 2011 it has been a Grade 2. Despite that downgrade, there has not been a significant reduction in the purse from the early years. One of the best horses in this horse was Shake It Off, who won in both 2017 and 2018, first for Our Athletes, then for Smokey Stover. Since retirement, she has found her way back to the Our Athletes barn. Last year’s winner was Sneaky Opus, who has since been retired. Time to take a look at out field!

#1- True Talent (Northern Acre Stable, ridden by T J Pereira)- After eight wins in 13 career starts, including her last five in a row, True Talent will be making her hard earned graded debut here. It won’t be at the distance that got him here, however, as she has predominantly been a sprinter, though did transition well to running a mile in an open allowance at LS. Plenty of promise here, and Northern Acre should be commended for the great work that they have done with this filly.

#2- Tenrikyo (Smokey Stover, ridden by V Espinoza)- The former KYO winner and BC Distaff runner up is certainly the headliner in the field, but is she still the favorite despite those accolades? Since the BC Distaff, she has only run twice, and only one of those races was at the graded level. That came in her last start, where she placed third here in the Santa Margarita, a Grade 2 that saw a field of five. Hasn’t been worked publicly in a while, and there was a slight slowing trend being seen. Smokey has had some work to do with this one, it seems, and here we will see what kind of progress has been made.

#3- Scarlet And Gray (Nakamura Stables, ridden by A Cedillo)- Looking for the first graded win of her career, and has been close on many occasions. Most recently, she ran fourth in the La Troienne at CD, running a length behind the winner. She was also narrowly beaten in the Grade 3 Comely at AQU late last year. Has fared better in ungraded stakes and in statebred stakes, and cannot be counted out here, because she does a great job at finding a way to get some piece of the purse for the trainer.

#4- High On Haggis (Winning Link Stables, ridden by D Van Dyke)- After a very good three year old campaign that saw her win the Grade 2 Mother Goose and place second by a head in the Cotillion, High On Haggis has been slow to get going this year. She has won one of her last three starts, but that came in an open allowance, and like Tenrikyo, her lack of starts so far this year is noteworthy. Ran very flat in the Apple Blossom in her last start. Worked well last week, so the trainer probably has confidence for improvement here.

#5- Fabulous Angelina (Allinthegate, ridden by M E Smith)- Since August, this Zero Return filly has been running very well, with three wins and a second in her five starts after that point. This includes two graded wins, one of which came at this distance in February when she captured the Grade 3 Royal Delta at GP. Her last start is a head scratcher, so the decision will be for bettors if you want to throw that out or not. The track was only “good” that day, and her off track starts have not been that great. Weather is not supposed to be a factor here on Saturday, so I am feeling pretty good about her chances and putting that dud behind her.

#6- Puddle Jumper (Mb Stables, ridden by Ru Fuentes)- In that race that Fabulous Angelina did not show up in, Puddle Jumper ended up going to the winners circle. That race was the Grade 3 Doubledogdare Stakes at KEE in mid-April, and Puddle Jumper defeated Fabulous Angelina by six lengths. This Commanding filly is on good form right now, also winning the Henson Handicap at SUN, in March. This will be her toughest task to date, but she does an excellent job of being near the front at the end, that she is hard to ignore in this field.

#7- Nude Beach (Aer Stables, ridden by G Franco)- Acquired by the trainer in the September 2019 auction for $111.000, Nude Beach has not been shy about showing her off her talents since then. She has picked up two graded stake wins, highlighted by the Grade 3 HOU Ladies Classic at the end of January. After that, she was dropped into an open allowance for some reason, but then returned to graded company in the Grade 2 Santa Margarita, and finished second. SRF’s have been very consistent for her throughout her career.

#8- Hollywood Sister (Winning Link Stables, ridden by U Rispoli)- This filly was picked up by the trainer in the March auction for $38.130, and has made one start since then. That was in the Doubledogdare Stakes, but unfortunately for her, she finished closer to Fabulous Angelina then she did to Puddle Jumper. Made a few graded starts for prior trainer Estero Farms, hitting the board in all of them, but not winning any of them. In fact, she has just one win in 17 starts, and that makes it tough to like her a lot in this company.

Prediction: 7-2-1-6

— NS

Categories: Grade II, STAKES ARTICLES

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