03/13/2012 1:44PM

Santa Anita: Small fields likely for Santa Margarita, San Luis Rey

Benoit & Associates
Ellafitz, the winner of three consecutive stakes, may face as few as three rivals in Saturday's Santa Margarita.

ARCADIA, Calif. – A small number of nominations, combined with the likelihood of wet weather this weekend at Santa Anita, should keep the field sizes abbreviated for both the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Stakes on Saturday and the Grade 2 San Luis Rey Stakes on Sunday.

The $300,000 Santa Margarita, at 1 1/8 miles, is the biggest race of the season for older fillies and mares. But this division, whose leading lights in recent years on this circuit included Zenyatta and Blind Luck, has fallen dramatically. There were a mere seven nominations to the race, and as few as four could start.

The race will be headed by Ellafitz, who has won three straight races, and four of her last five, including the Santa Maria, last month’s prep for the Santa Margarita. Ellafitz has yet to run on an off track, but is bred for it – being by Tiznow out of a Dixieland Band mare – and that could come into play, since The Weather Channel is forecasting a 60-percent chance of rain here on Saturday.

Bob Baffert, who trains Ellafitz, also will send out Awesomemundo, who won a second-level allowance race last time out. Martin Garcia rides Ellafitz, with Mike Smith on Awesomemundo.

La Canada winner Include Me Out (Joe Talamo the rider) and Miss Mittagong (Mario Gutierrez) complete the probable starters.

The $150,000 San Luis Rey, scheduled for 1 1/2 miles on turf, could be run on a course that has some give to it, since there is a 70-percent chance of rain on Sunday, according to The Weather Channel. There were just eight nominees to this race, and as few as five could start, led by Slim Shadey, who won the San Marcos on Feb. 11, his second win in three starts since arriving from his native Britain.

Simon Callaghan, the trainer of Slim Shadey, also is expected to run Falcon Rock, who has lost 14 straight races since capturing his United States debut in March 2010. Falcon Rock was third in the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup in November, but was last of five most recently in a second-level allowance.

Others expected for the San Luis Rey are Bourbon Bay, who was fourth to Slim Shadey in the San Marcos, as well as Hog’s Hollow and San Marcos runner-up Utopian.