Saturday Stakes Preview: In The Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita, She’s A Warrior intriguing candidate…to run second to Songbird

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The Grade 2, $300,000 Las Virgenes has a field of seven three-year-old fillies going a mile on the main track. The undefeated Hollendorfer filly Songbird, last seen putting an unholy beating on her BC Juvenile Filly opponents at Keeneland, is going to be an overwhelming favorite.

According to the TimeformUS Pace Projector, Songbird will have the early lead all to herself. Jade Princess is shown in second place early.

The fastest Late Pace rating in the field, an 88, belongs to Street Fancy.

Here is the field in post position order, with morning line odds in parentheses:

She’s a Warrior (20-1):

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 1.28.46 PM

Nice, improving pattern of speed figures. Most recent race was not quite as nice as it looks. Received friendly trip and spent quite a bit of time on the lively rail. But draws well, has a pattern that suggests further improvement is in store in the near future, and will be a massive price.

Land Over Sea (8-1): Has run well against Songbird in the past (losing by 4.5 lengths more than qualifies), has the second fastest speed figures in the field, and is an obvious candidate to fill out the exacta.

Street Fancy (6-1): Rock-solid filly is in great hands, is doing everything right, and gets a superb route rider. Has the fastest Late Pace rating in the field and looks like the second best filly in the field.

Jade Princess (10-1): Brings pretty pattern of speed figures into this, though 19 points slower than the favorite. Was humbled in the extreme the last time she faced Songbird. Blatant exotics contender at relatively short price.

Decked Out (20-1): Enters off lifetime top speed figure of 95, her best since her debut back in May. Lone route attempt was disappointing but not dispositive. Not out of question, at giant price, for lower exotics.

Songbird (1-5):

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 1.25.15 PM

Sparkling filly is four for four lifetime. She has won those four races by a combined 22 lengths. She has won two sprints and two routes. She has won a route on this racetrack. She has won three Grade 1s. She won the BC Juvenile Fillies in hand. Her trainer is as smart and as careful as any trainer anywhere. Her rider is smart and cool and at his best in situations such as this one. She has a pattern of speed figures (104 111 113 116) that would not be out of place in a “What to Look for in a Young Horse” instructional video. Her trainer does not get a great rating off layoffs of this length, but if he is aiming at a strong effort off a layoff, he knows precisely how to get it. Personally, we pay little attention to what trainers say, but we make a slight exception with Hollendorfer because he weighs his words and has our respect in all areas, and he seems happy with the situation going into this race. Knocks on this splendidly talented filly going into this race? There are no guarantees off layoffs. There are bigger fish (indeed, sharks) to fry down the road. She has never won from off the pace. She has never faced a fast pace. The latter two knocks will likely prove null and void by the time they reach the first turn. Imagining this filly going down to defeat in this spot is not impossible, but it takes a lot more effort (much of it excessively creative) than we are inclined to produce.

Merirosvo (30-1): Recent maiden winner probably needs to improve by 20 points to threaten Songbird on the stretch-out while breaking from a bad post and being obliged to change her running style.

The Play:

We will concede this race to Songbird. Street Fancy and Land Over Sea look next best. But an exacta and trifecta we want to cover will have Songbird on top and She’s a Warrior underneath.

 

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