03/12/2013 2:21PM

Santa Anita: Path is clear for Joyful Victory in Santa Margarita

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Coady Photography
Joyful Victory will try for her first Grade 1 win Saturday in the Santa Margarita Stakes.

ARCADIA, Calif. – The decision by the connections of My Miss Aurelia to leave Santa Anita for the Azeri Stakes on Saturday at Oaklawn Park has further reduced the field for that day’s Grade 1, $300,000 Santa Margarita Stakes here at Santa Anita.

The Santa Margarita now could have as few as five runners, headed by Joyful Victory, who was scheduled to make her second trip to California in less than six months.

Joyful Victory shipped here in September and finished second in the Grade 1 Zenyatta at 1 1/16 miles, beaten only by Love and Pride. Since then, she raced twice last fall at Churchill Downs before a runaway victory last time out in the Houston Ladies Classic on Jan. 26.

Although she has finished second twice and third once in Grade 1 stakes, Joyful Victory has yet to win a Grade 1 race. Her chances increased exponentially with My Miss Aurelia leaving town.

Entries for the 1 1/8-mile Santa Margarita – the championship race of the meet for older fillies and mares – were scheduled to be taken Wednesday. In addition to Joyful Victory – to be ridden by Rosie Napravnik – the Santa Margarita field was expected to include Great Hot, More Chocolate, Snow Fall, and The Only Key.

Great Hot is coming off a front-running victory in the Santa Maria on Feb. 16. Snow Fall was fourth in that race. More Chocolate has not raced since capturing the La Canada on Jan. 20. The Only Key would be the longshot. She was second in a first-level allowance on turf in her last start.