ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 15, 2017)–A wide open field of 11 older fillies and mares will contest Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Buena Vista Stakes at Santa Anita, with Mokat, Prize Exhibit, Hillhouse High, Wild At Heart and Illuminant all figuring prominently at a flat mile on turf.
Current Winter Meet leading trainer Richard Baltas will be represented by both Mokat and Hillhouse High, while Jim Cassidy’s recent stakes winner Prize Exhibit shoots for two wins in a row, Richard Mandella’s Wild At Heart will try two turns on turf for the first time and Michael McCarthy’s Illuminant will make her first start since taking the Grade I Gamely Stakes here on May 30.
MOKAT: Twelfth, beaten 5 ¾ lengths here in the Grade I American Oaks at a mile and one eighth on turf Dec. 31, this 4-year-old Uncle Mo filly gets back to what may be her preferred distance on Saturday. Winless in three Grade I stakes since winning the Grade II San Clemente Handicap at a mile turf July 23, she has two wins, a second and a third under these conditions and could merit top billing in what shapes up as a truly wide open fray. Owned by J K Racing Stable, Mokat kept company on the main track last year with superstar Songbird and has a good deal of class from which to draw upon. She is 12-2-2-2 lifetime with earnings of $318,385.
PRIZE EXHIBIT: “In Mike Smith he trusts.” So it goes with Jim Cassidy and Prize Exhibit, who benefited greatly from Smith’s deft touch in taking the Grade III Megahertz Stakes here at one mile on turf Jan. 16. With Smith rationing her energy, Prize Exhibit came with a short burst to win the Megahertz by 1 ¼ lengths, leaving little doubt that one mile looks to be her ceiling in terms of distance. With ample speed signed on, look for Smith to try to work out a similar trip Saturday, as he’ll try to make the last run. A 5-year-old English-bred mare, Prize Exhibit has four wins from 11 tries over the Santa Anita turf and she’s four for 13 at one mile on grass. Owned by Deron Pearson’s D P Racing, Prize Exhibit is 31-7-3-2 overall with earnings of $637,045.
HILLHOUSE HIGH: Idle since running a big third as the pacesetter in the Grade II Goldikova Stakes at one mile on turf here Nov. 6, she is a head and a half length away from being unbeaten in her three Southern California starts for Baltas. Originally based in New York with Chad Brown, she appears plenty dangerous as a fresh commodity in the Buena Vista. Dismissed at 17-1 in the Goldikova, the 6-year-old Exchange Rate mare seeks her first stakes victory in what will be her 21st career start. Owned by Golden Eagle Farm, Hillhouse High has been in the money in seven out of nine starts at one mile turf and is 20-3-6-5 lifetime with earnings of $292,487.
WILD AT HEART: Well beaten by budding superstar Vale Dori in her last two starts on dirt, this lightly raced 5-year-old mare by Indian Charlie faces no such standout on Saturday as she tries turf for the second time. In her lone grass attempt came three starts back in the Grade III Senator Ken Maddy Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs down the hillside turf, she came running late. Owned by Ramona Bass, it’s likely Wild At Heart will employ stalking tactics in her first two turn spin on turn. A maiden special weight winner here two years ago at seven furlongs, she is 10-2-4-2 with earnings of $211,305.
ILLUMINANT: Owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, she lends considerable depth as a supplemental entry for McCarthy. Idle since running the best race of her career in the Grade I Gamely last May, this 5-year-old mare by Quality Road has an abbreviated work tab for her return, with five works showing–four of them half miles dating back to Jan. 4. Her most recent drill was at five furlongs, in 59.60 here on Feb. 12, which was fourth best of 26 at the distance. While she is winless in two starts over the Santa Anita turf, all four of her lifetime wins have come on grass. With earnings of $367,650, she brings an overall mark of 11-4-2-1 to the Buena Vista.
THE GRADE II BUENA VISTA STAKES WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER
Race 8 of 9 Approximate post time 4 p.m. PT
- Illuminant–Brayan Pena–122
- Lily Pod–Martin Garcia – 120
- Mokat–Kent Desormeaux–124
- Do the Dance–Tyler Baze–120
- Prize Exhibit–Mike Smith–122
- Hillhouse High–Santiago Gonzalez–120
- Evo Campo–Brice Blanc–120
- Jeremy’s Legacy–Norberto Arroyo, Jr.–120
- Juno–Luis Contreras–120
- Pretty Girl–Corey Nakatani–120
- Wild At Heart–Flavien Prat–120
First post time for a nine-race card on Saturday is at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m. For scratches, changes and complete morning line information, please visit santaanita.com.