03/11/2014 2:57PM

Santa Anita: Field for Santa Margarita to be small but talented

Shigeki Kikkawa
Spellbound (No. 6) and jockey Victor Espinoza win the Grade 2 La Canada Stakes by a neck over Let Faith Arise on Jan. 19.

ARCADIA, Calif. – The $350,000 Santa Margarita Stakes for fillies and mares at Santa Anita on Saturday will be a race for locals.

After trainer Bill Mott said Tuesday that Close Hatches would start in Saturday’s $200,000 Azeri Stakes at Oaklawn Park, the Santa Margarita lost its potential shipper among the 12 nominees.

But the five fillies and mares expected for the Grade 1 race over 1 1/8 miles all won or placed in stakes in the last year – Fiftyshadesofhay, Iotapa, Let Faith Arise, Macha, and Spellbound. The Santa Margarita is the championship race of the winter-spring meeting for older fillies and mares.

Spellbound won the Grade 2 La Canada Stakes on Jan. 19, finishing a neck in front of Let Faith Arise, who won the California Wine Stakes at Pleasanton last June.

Macha was third in the Honeymoon Handicap last summer at Hollywood Park. Iotapa won the Grade 2 Santa Maria Stakes on Feb. 15.

Fiftyshadesofhay was fourth in the La Canada and is best known for winning the Grade  2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico last May.

Let Faith Arise and Macha are trained by Jerry Hollendorfer. Tuesday, Hollendorfer said that Scherzinger, winner of the Grade 2 Santa Monica Stakes in January, will “get a little break.”

On Monday at Santa Anita, Iotapa worked six furlongs in 1:12.20, while Fiftyshadesofhay worked five furlongs in 1:00.20.

“She worked super great,” trainer Bob Baffert said of Fiftyshadesofhay.

On Tuesday at Santa Anita, Spellbound worked a half-mile in 49 seconds. Trained by Richard Mandella, Spellbound won her first stakes in the La Canada.

◗ The Baffert-trained Midnight Lucky, the winner of the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park last May, is working toward a comeback. On Tuesday at Santa Anita, the 4-year-old filly worked five furlongs in 59.80 seconds, her sixth recorded workout since early February. Midnight Lucky, a Midnight Lute filly, won the Sunland Park Oaks in March 2013 but was fifth in the Kentucky Oaks last May. She has won 3 of 4 starts and earned $362,100 for owners Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman.

Jacqueline Schumacher More than 1 year ago
As I read all the complaints about the weak field, I'm reminded of the b!tchin' and moanin' when Zenyatta was racing... "Oh, it's such a weak field..." "Who has she beaten?" (This was still being used to denigrate her accomplishments even after 2009, if you'll recall.) "She can only win on 'Polycrap'. [insert name of eastern-based mare] will thrash her on dirt!" I can't help but see a trend of griping, but it's understandable; we were spoiled by a mare that owned the Filly and Mare Division in California. The grade 1 fields will always seem--lacking--now.
tim More than 1 year ago
This isnt that great of a field. Should be a high priced allowance race at best.
TheRaiderFan More than 1 year ago
You better enter your horse to beat these tomato cans and collect that purse. The money is still green in California right?
tim More than 1 year ago
I was actually thinking of running myself. Wouldn't take much to hit the board in here.
AzHorsePlayer More than 1 year ago
Shouldn't a Grade 1 be worth a minimum of 500k...I mean the Awesome Again last year was only worth 250k...embarrassing!
TheRaiderFan More than 1 year ago
You should put up your money to boost the purses
Pat More than 1 year ago
Ought to be ashamed of this field in a supposedly Grade I race. Just another disgrace that has become commonplace in California Racing. What I want to know is this: Where is the Rating Committee and when are they going to downgrade this sort of sorry display to maybe of Grade III or take the Graded rating from it entirely. This race is an absolute disgrace.
Tyren M More than 1 year ago
Um. Where's Beholder?
tim More than 1 year ago
Like all really good horses, the average times they run a year is 4 times. Better give him another month. That BC race was very taxing and it's awfully quick running a horse 4 months back.
brian More than 1 year ago
Small and extremely untalented for the santa Margarita! Geez!
G More than 1 year ago
There are small fields for many stakes all across the country. The conditions make a difference along with the time of year. Most of the major tracks running right now are favoring front runners. The Fair Grounds plays just like Santa Anita did this past weekend following rain, once it dries out. Gulfstream is always lightning fast.
jttf More than 1 year ago
who wants to ship in, when the track superintendant sets up the track for the locals ? yawn
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
So there is no horses on the east coast with speed?
[removed] More than 1 year ago
This comment has been deleted
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
It's because Hollywood ran one extra week, according to the powers to be. Two years from now the small fields will still be the latent effects of Hollywood running that one extra week.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Talented? One of the great races for females is begging to be downgraded to a grade 2.