Scheduled post time 3:30pm PST
The G1 Las Virgenes represents the first significant Kentucky Oaks prep of the year for Southern California’s new generation of three-year-old fillies. That said, a mile at Santa Anita is a far cry from nine furlongs at Churchill Downs and we will put a premium on the fillies with tactical speed over those with distance breeding. Contradicting our convictions is the Pace Projector for this race, which suggests two prime contenders (#2 Fashion Plate and #7 Taste Like Candy) will compromise each other on the front end. What is a handicapper to do when faced with mixed signals such as these?
Fashion Plate is likely to be the longer price of the two. Unlike Taste Like Candy, Fashion Plate has never been around two turns, but there is good reason to believe that she may enjoy the stretch-out. Her sire Old Fashioned was a brilliant and precocious sprinter who was able to stubbornly carry his speed around short two-turn routes (second in the nine-furlong Arkansas Derby) and we expect Fashion Plate (84 Pedigree Rating) to make things difficult for Taste Like Candy in the Las Virgenes. In fact, it’s possible Taste Like Candy will be asked to rate behind the speed. We will play Fashion Plate at her 4-1 ML odds to win the battle on the front end. But it doesn’t mean she’ll win the war. Taste Like Candy hasn’t done much wrong, but we wonder if she may be coming back too soon off a huge 101 TimeformUS speed figure four weeks ago, and she has come up short in the lane in her last two races.
The beneficiary of the potential throw-down on the front end is likely to be 2-1 ML favorite Streaming (#8). Streaming’s top speed figure of 87 makes her the fourth-fastest filly on paper, so why is it that we fancy her chances on Saturday? In this case, we think the 87 represents an ideal opportunity for her to move forward. In her last start, she had a poor break and still bullied her way into contention from an outside post position before easily putting away Taste Like Candy in the final eighth of a mile. On Saturday, she figures to get a good stalking trip behind the leaders, according to the Pace Projector. Considering the professionalism she has shown in her two starts combined with the eight weeks of rest trainer Bob Baffert (92 Trainer Rating with this length of layoff) has given her since her win in the Starlet, she figures to be a tough customer in this race.
Based on her running style and pedigree, Arethusa has better things in her future at longer distances. She seems a longshot to pass them all, but she has been coming along nicely with her speed figure progression and, like Streaming, gets eight weeks of rest going into this race. She’s the type of horse who should fit beautifully in the 3/4 hole of supers and there’s an outside chance she can crack the exacta if things get too nutty on the front end.
As for the rest of the field, Saintly Joan isn’t talented enough, and there’s no real reason to think Euro shipper Earthfight can jump up on the dirt. Stakes winning Turf horse Sushi Empire, on the other hand, does have a 92 Pedigree Rating for this race and will be a price.
Streaming is the selection. However, if Streaming gets bet down below 8-5, it’s probably best to find other opportunities in the card, such as the Arcadia, where the TimeformUS data points to #1 Procurement (12-1 ML).
The Wager: Streaming to win. Exacta Streaming over Arethusa. Supers – Streaming on top with Arethusa in the 3/4 holes and wheel Artemis, Fashion Plate and Sushi Empire in the other positions.