Stakes Preview: Saturday’s Grade 3 Santa Ysabel at Santa Anita


>Santa Anita / February 28 / Race 8 / 4:00 PM PST

The Grade 3, $100,000 Santa Ysabel has a field of nine three-year-old fillies going a mile and 1/16 on the main track. The favorite on the morning line, Curlin’s Fox, has never raced on dirt, never raced farther than 6.5 furlongs, and never raced against a horse who has won a race. Her 5-2 morning line odds suggest how impressive she was in her debut, which came on the downhill sprint course.

According to the TimeformUS Pace Projector, the Santa Ysabel will be run at a fast pace. Enchanting Lady and Light The City are projected to battle for the lead early, Rattataptap is next in line, and Glory is in fourth early.

Now let’s take a look at the field in post position order, with morning line odds in parentheses:

Danette (20-1): She has the most starts (eight) and the fewest wins (zero) of any horse in the field. She loses Kent Desormeaux today, which can be looked at as a negative even before one considers that she is trained by Kent’s brother Keith and that Kent is riding a different horse (Light the City) in the same race. In truth, we would not mind any of these negatives a bit if Danette had a better pattern of speed figures. But she looks a little bit over the top to us. Still, she figures to be flattered by a fast pace. She is one we would certainly include on the bottom of trifectas and supers at a fat price if she goes (she is also entered elsewhere).

Curlin’s Fox (5-2): Touted by clockers as a very good thing before her debut, she got hammered on the tote board and could hardly have been more impressive winning at 6.5 furlongs on the hillside turf course. Ridden with a confidence that flirted with contempt, she lost a tremendous amount of ground racing wide (confirmed by Trakus) and looked like a future stakes winner before she reached the 1/8 pole. Her speed figure, an 84, was not all that impressive in isolation, but we cannot think of one earthly reason why it should be looked at in isolation. And today we will be seeing her on dirt, which her Breeding Ratings indicate should be her favorite surface. Trainer Carla Gaines gets a 100 rating with second-time starters. This filly is a strong, strong contender.

Enchanting Lady (3-1): Baffert filly returns from a long layoff and makes her three-year-old debut and her route debut. Baffert gets a 98 rating off layoffs of comparable duration. Enchanting Lady was a fast two-year-old. Her top speed figure was 91, which fits in here even before you adjust for her added maturity. Her Breeding Ratings are slanted towards short over long, but not overwhelmingly so. There is no reason why this $650,000 purchase cannot win this race (potential fast pace notwithstanding). But we’re not excited about the prospect of getting her at odds like 3-1. There is just too much in here for us to find those odds enticing.

Achiever’s Legacy (15-1): Solid filly was no match for Light the City 28 days ago, but she figures to have the pace in her favor today, and she has a two-back speed figure of 99 at which to aim. Trained by a Hall of Fame trainer, proven at this distance, proven above this class level, drawn nicely and set to be ridden by an extremely smart rider, she presents us with plenty to like, and at a fat price on the morning line.

Rainha Da Bateria (10-1): Deep closer has done all her work on turf to date. Received a terrible trip in a minor stake on New Year’s Day. She got shut off into the turn, had to reload, and had way too much energy left when she crossed the line. But she is a cut below most of these on speed figures and a plodder in the extreme, and the switch to dirt seems neutral at best.

Light the City (7-2): Was quite likely the best horse in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes, where she went very wide around the first turn, 2-3 wide around the second turn, and then made a sustained run at the wire-to-wire winner. For that effort she earned a speed figure of 94. The Race Rating of the Las Virgenes, a 96, matches the preliminary Race Rating of today’s race. In two starts as a three-year-old, Light the City has yet to match her two-year-old top of 96.

Rattataptap (4-1): Enjoyed a friendly trip on the lead in an entry-level allowance sprint in her last start. Had a troubled trip two back. Plainly there is talent here. Her debut alone proves that. But we don’t like her at anything like the morning line odds.

Stellar Wind (12-1): Maryland shipper has a long way to go on our speed figures. Recent private purchase has reportedly been training well, but we want to see a race out of this one–whose recent maiden victory received a Race Rating of only 63, a full 33 points lower than today’s race.

Glory (6-1): Has improved in every start. Will need to improve again. Post position could prove problematic, as could the pace. We would need odds considerably higher than the morning line to look in this direction.

The play: We believe that Light the City and Curlin’s Fox are the most likely winners, and we believe that Achiever’s Legacy (at ML odds of 15-1) is the most playable horse. Win bet on Achiever’s Legacy. Use her under those two fillies in exactas and trifectas.


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2 Responses to Stakes Preview: Saturday’s Grade 3 Santa Ysabel at Santa Anita

  1. Mike says:

    Why bother doing a race with a 5/2 shot who is making the toughest move in racing – MSW to Stakes?


    • Maybe because it does not matter how “tough” the move is – what matters is how “tough” the field is, and his job is to provide analysis in that regard for a race which many people will be interested in – for exotic wagering alone, if for no other reason.

      Oh, sorry – my bad – I forgot that he was hired only to provide analysis of races in which *you* are interested.



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