Las Vegas, NV - The Grade 2 Santa Maria Stakes is on tap for Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California this Saturday, February 14. Fillies and mares four years old and upward will take to Santa Anita's dirt track and race 1 1/16 miles for a purse of $200,000.
The Santa Maria Stakes has attracted a deep field of 10 older females to take part in race 8 in Santa Anita's Saturday card. Post time is 4:00 PM. Here is a brief look into the past performances of all 10 entries for this Grade 2 stakes.
Thegirlinthatsong - Jerry Hollendorfer trained filly had 11 starts last year with two wins, two seconds and three third place finishes. She posted two wins early in the year - an Allowance in March and the minor Texas Stallion S. Got Koto Stakes in May and placed in four of six starts to end the year including last time out - a second in the minor Zia Park Oaks, a second in the minor Remington Park Oaks September 28 and a good third in the Grade 3 Torrey Pines Stakes at Del Mar August 31. She started her 2015 campaign off with a bang - a terrific win over Lexie Lou at 6-1 odds by 4 1/2 lengths in the Grade 2 La Canada Stakes on this track January 17. She has been very competitive the last seven months and has a win and two seconds in three starts at this distance. Rafael Bejarano gets the mount on the probable favorite and co- 123 pound top-weight from post 2.
Tiz Midnight - Bob Baffert trained filly has placed in eight of 10 career starts but enters off a career worst performance - a sixth as heavy favorite, 15 1/2 lengths back of Warren's Veneda in the minor Paseana Stakes here January 11 which followed a good win in the Grade 2 Bayakoa Stakes at Los Alamitos and a sixth in the Breeders' Cup Distaff. Before that was a good second in her stakes debut - behind Beholder in the Grade 1 Zenyatta September 27 and a three race win streak - an Allowance Optional score at Del Mar September 1, another Allowance Optional Claiming win on that same track August 2 and a maiden score in her fourth career start. Tiz Midnight has been hard to figure out lately with a win and a pair of sixths - both of which have come on this track. Victor Espinoza will be in the saddle of the 123pound co-top weight from post 3 trying to figure out Santa Anita.
Awesome Baby - Bob Baffert trained filly reeled off three straight wins at this time last year - the Grade 2 Santa Ynez Stakes in January, the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel Stakes in March and the minor Sunland Park Oaks before heading to the sidelines for nine months. She returned to action December 28 and finished fifth after leading in the minor Kalookan Queen Stakes on this track. Awesome Baby was dominant at this time last year and hopes to return to that form - with Flavian Prat aboard from gate 8. She had a bullet workout February 3 and looks ready to return to the top.
Warren's Veneda - Craig Lewis trained filly has been steadily improving the last three or so months culminating with a nice win by 5 1/2 lengths last time out in the minor Paseana Stakes here January 11. Before that score was a good second behind Tiz Midnight in the Grade 2 Bayakoa Stakes at Los Alamitos and a third in the minor Betty Grable Stakes in November. Before those results she placed in just one of five starts. Warren's Veneda has two minor stakes wins but no graded stakes scores in her career but hopes to change that Saturday. Tyler Baze will be in the saddle from post 6 Saturday.
Sweet Marini - Bob Baffert trained mare has placed in 10 of 13 career starts - five wins, four seconds and a third place finish. She enters off a good second in the Grade 2 Santa Monica Stakes here January 19 which followed a nice two race win streak - both Allowance Optional Claiming races at Los Alamitos as heavy favorite and a respectable second in the minor Betty Grable Stakes at Del Mar November 9. Sweet Marini has two wins and two seconds in her last four starts and seems to be in good form ahead of this race. Martin Garcia gets the call from post 7.
Yahilwa - had 13 starts in Britain with two wins, a second and four third place finishes before her North American debut - a fourth in an Allowance Optional Claiming January 26, 2014. She has since raced in graded stakes company six time but has placed in just one - a good second at 17-1 odds behind Let Faith Arise in the Grade 3 Adoration Stakes May 18. She is coming off a sixth in the Grade 2 Bayakoa Stakes at Los Alamitos December 6 after two straight wins - the $200,000 Treasure Chest Stakes at Delta Downs November 22 followed a 3 1/2 length score as favorite in an Allowance Optional Claiming at Santa Anita October 29. She now has 24 career starts with five wins, three seconds and four third place finishes and enters in typically inconsistent form. Gary Stevens gets the call from the as Yahilwa looks for a bounceback effort.
Uzziel - has 11 career starts with four wins and two third place finishes but looks to place for the first time in graded stakes action. She enters off a sixth in the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes here December 26 after a pair of sixth place finishes - an Allowance at Del Mar November 28 and the Grade 3 LA Woman Stakes on this track in October. She won the minor Beverly J. Lewis Stakes at Los Alamitos in September, had a third in the minor Daisycutter Handicap at Del Mar in August and another minor stakes win - the Santa Paula Stakes here in April. Uzziel had looked good early last year but is mired in a bit of a slump right now. Fernando Hernandez Perez will hope to snap the skid from gate 4.
Legacy - John Sadler trained mare recorded her first stakes win six back - the minor Cypress Stakes July 6 after a sixth in the Grade 2 Adoration Stakes in May and a second behind the terrific Beholder in the minor Santa Lucia Stakes April 20. She has struggled lately however - a fourth last time out in the minor Paseana Stakes here January 11 followed an OK third in the Grade 3 Bayakoa Stakes, an eighth in the Grade 2 Goldikova Stakes at Santa Anita November 2 and a sixth in the minor Tranquility Lake Stakes at Del Mar in August. She has three wins, two seconds and three third place finishes in 17 career starts and enters in so-so form. Joe Talamo has been tabbed to ride from post 5 Saturday.
Backintheacademy - makes her stakes debut Saturday after 23 career starts produces two wins, six seconds and four third place finishes. She has placed in six straight races ahead of this weekend - the best of which was an Allowance Optional Claiming score last time out on this track January 16. Backintheacademy takes a huge step up in company Saturday with Brandon Boulanger guiding her from post 9.
Valiant Emilia - Shipped in from Peru for her North American debut and finished eighth in the Breeders' Cup Distaff for trainer Gary Mandella after a nice win in the Gr. 3 Clasico Cesar del Rio Suito June 22 and having recorded five wins and three seconds in her previous seven starts - all stakes races at home. She went on to a fourth in the Grade 2 Bayakoa Stakes after the Breeders' Cup and was most recently third in the minor Paseana Stakes here January 11. She will be looking for a North American breakthrough Saturday with Tiago Josue Pereira in the irons from the outside post.