ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 12, 2014)–Iotapa, second in the seven furlong, Grade II Santa Monica Stakes Jan. 25, and Let Faith Arise and Fiftyshadesofhay, second and fourth respectively in the Grade II, mile and a sixteenth La Canada Stakes, head a competitive field of seven older fillies and mares in Saturday’s Grade II, 1 1/16 miles Santa Maria Stakes at Santa Anita.
Bob Baffert’s Fiftyshadesofhay, whose best races have primarily been on or near the lead, was bumped hard by favored Broken Sword leaving the gate in the Jan. 19 La Canada and her chances were thus severely compromised. Next-to-last early, she was 9 ½ lengths off the lead after the first half mile, but rallied under Mike Smith to be fourth, beaten just a length. She’ll be handled by Martin Garcia on Saturday, who guided her to a win in the Grade III Iowa Oaks on June 29.
A 4-year-old Kentucky-bred filly by Pulpit, Fiftyshadesofhay, who was the 6-5 second choice in the La Canada, is 8-3-2-2 at 1 1/16 miles and she would appear to be the class of the field. Owned by Karl Watson, Paul Weitman and Mike Pegram, she has four wins from 14 starts overall and earnings of $796,297.
Baffert will also be well represented by Ondine, who sat close to a fast La Canada pace and made the lead in the stretch before finishing third, beaten a half length, at odds of 7-1. Owned by Peachtree Stable, the 4-year-old filly by Medaglia d’Oro has two wins from four starts at 1 1/16 miles and is 9-3-3-3. She has earnings of $180,200. In a case of musical mounts, Smith will ride Ondine for the first time in the Santa Maria.
Trained by John Sadler, Iotapa was second, beaten a length, by Hollendorfer’s Scherzinger in the Santa Monica, after being idle since running third in the Grade II, one mile turf San Clemente Handicap on July 21.
A 4-year-old filly by Afleet Alex, Iotapa was second to eventual 3-year-old filly Eclipse Award winner Beholder going a mile and a sixteenth five starts back in the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks on April 6, 2013. A winner of the seven furlong Railbird Stakes May 19, Iotapa was then second in the Grade II, 1 1/16 miles Hollywood Oaks June 22.
Owned by Hronis Racing, LLC, Iotapa is 7-3-3-1 overall and figures to get a stalking trip stretching out with Joe Talamo up. She has earnings of $243,490.
With fast fractions of 22.86, 45.47, and 1:09.66 to run at, Let Faith Arise comes off her best career effort in her most recent, as she surged late between horses to be second, beaten a diminishing neck in the La Canada, her first try around two turns.
If she can relax as well as she did in the La Canada, Let Faith Arise, a Tommy Town Thoroughbreds, LLC, homebred 4-year-old by Kafwain, will hope to be rolling late again with Corey Nakatani back aboard. Let Faith Arise has four wins from eight starts and earnings of $130,240.
Claimed by trainer Peter Miller for $40,000 four starts back on Oct. 17, Golden Production pressed the pace in winning the 1 1/16 miles Paseana Stakes Jan. 12 and is in search of her fifth consecutive win. With Martin Pedroza sidelined due to injury, Golden Production will be ridden for the first time by Kent Desormeaux.
A 5-year-old Pennsylvania-bred mare by Exchange Rate, Golden Production is 11-5-4-1 overall, with earnings of $208,140. She is owned by Myron Miller.
A Grade III winner going 1 1/16 miles two starts back on Oct. 26 at Belmont Park, the John Shirreffs-trained Stanwyck was second, beaten a head by Golden Production in the Paseana. Named for legendary Academy Award-winning actress Barbara Stanwyck, the 5-year-old mare by Empire Maker possesses a stalking style and has a win, a second and a third from three tries at the Santa Maria distance.
A half sister to 2005 Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo, Stanwyck is owned by her breeders, Jerry and Ann Moss. Ridden by Victor Espinoza in the Paseana, she’ll be handled Saturday by eastern-based Alex Solis, who rode her to victory Oct. 26.
Keen early in her U.S. debut going a flat mile Jan. 26, the Jim Cassidy-conditioned Yahilwa, who was a minor stakes winner in England at seven furlongs, could be sent to the front by Tyler Baze. Owned by DP Racing, LLC, the 4-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro will try 1 1/16 miles for the first time in her 14th career start.
The complete field for the Santa Maria Stakes, to be run as the eighth on a nine-race card Saturday, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Iotapa, Joe Talamo, 118; Fiftyshadesofhay, Martin Garcia, 120; Ondine, Mike Smith, 118; Yahilwa, Tyler Baze, 118; Let Faith Arise, Corey Nakatani, 118; Golden Production, Kent Desormeaux, 118, and Stanwyck, Alex Solis, 118.
First post time on Saturday is 12:30 p.m. Admission gates will open at 10:30 a.m.