SOLID GROUP OF FILLIES & MARES TO COMPETE AT 1 1/16 MILES
ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 11, 2015)–Jerry Hollendorfer’s Thegirlinthatsong and Bob Baffert’s Tiz Midnight head a deep and competitive field of 10 older fillies and mares in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Santa Maria Stakes, to be run at 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita.
An emphatic 4 ¼ length winner of the Grade II, 1 1/16 miles La Canada Stakes Jan. 17, stalked the early pace and easily defeated the highly accomplished Lexie Lou in winning the La Canada, her fifth start for Hollendorfer, to whom she was transferred this past summer.
A 4-year-old Texas-bred filly by My Golden Song, Thegirlinthatsong will be ridden for the fifth consecutive time by leading jockey Rafael Bejarano. With a win and two seconds from three tries at the Santa Maria distance, Thegirlinthatsong is 19-5-4-4 overall. Owned by Tim Russo, Peter Russo, Daniel Gatto and Hollendorfer, she has earnings of $407,695.
Baffert’s Tiz Midnight, a winner of the Grade II Bayakoa Stakes at Los Alamitos two starts back on Dec. 6, will try to rebound from a 15 ½ length shellacking on a wet fast surface Jan. 11. Heavily favored at 3-5 in the 1 1/16 miles Paseana Stakes, the 5-year-old mare by Midnight Lute showed tactical speed for a half mile and then tired badly, finishing sixth in a field of seven.
A close second to multiple Eclipse Award winner Beholder four starts back in the Grade I Zenyatta Stakes Sept. 27, Tiz Midnight need only bring her “A” game to factor prominently in the Santa Maria outcome. Owned by Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman, she has two wins and two seconds from five tries at 1 1/16 miles. Bred in Kentucky by Watson and Weitman, she is 10-4-3-1 overall with earnings of $334,970.
Baffert will also be represented by speedy Awesome Baby, who stretches out off a disappointing fifth in the 6 ½ furlong Kalookan Queen Stakes Dec. 28, and by California-bred Sweet Marini, who exits a big second place finish in the Grade II, seven furlong Santa Monica Stakes. A 5-year-old mare by Marino Marini, she’ll try two turns for only the second time in her 14th career start.
A streaking 5 ½ length winner of the Paseana, trainer Craig Lewis’s California-bred Warren’s Veneda was second, beaten a head by Tiz Midnight two starts back in the Grade II Bayakoa and has never been better. A 5-year-old mare by Affirmative, she is owned by her breeder, Benjamin C. Warren and will again be ridden by Tyler Baze.
Out of the Flying Continental mare More Cal Bread, Warren’s Veneda has a win, a second and a third from three tries at 1 1/16 miles and is 20-6-3-5 overall with earnings of $467,612.
Idle since well beaten by Tiz Midnight in the Grade II Bayakoa Stakes Dec. 6, trainer Jim Cassidy’s Yahilwa has shown flashes of brilliance since making her U.S. debut at Santa Anita on Jan. 26, 2014, and looms a dangerous commodity with Gary Stevens engaged to ride for the first time. She’ll break from the rail and should show good speed into the Club House turn.
Owned by DP Racing, LLC, Yahilwa has done her best when on or near the lead. She has three wins from 12 stateside starts and is 24-5-3-4 overall with earnings of $279,645.
The complete field for the Grade II Santa Maria Stakes, to be run as the eighth race on a nine-race card Saturday, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Yahilwa, Gary Stevens, 118; Thegirlinthatsong, Rafael Bejarano, 123; Tiz Midnight, Victor Espinoza, 123; Uzziel, Fernando Perez, 123; Legacy, Joe Talamo, 118; Warren’s Veneda, Tyler Baze, 118; Sweet Marini, Martin Garcia, 118; Awesome Baby, Flavien Prat, 118; Backintheacademy, Brandon Boulanger, 118, and Valiant Emilia, Tiago Pereira, 118.
First post time on Saturday is at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m.