By Margaret Ransom
Southern California racing fans and handicappers will get their first good look at a bunch of talented fillies in Sunday’s $200,000 Santa Ynez (G2) at Santa Anita, with their connections hoping the seven- furlong test will be a step toward the Kentucky Oaks (G1) on May 1.
A field of seven heads to the gate led by Baoma Corp.’s Bast, a three-time Grade 1 winner and an Eclipse Award-finalist as top 2-year-old filly. Bast is one of three entries trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert.
Since first run in 1952, some impressive fillies have won the Santa Ynez, including Turkish Trousers, Susan’s Girl, Terlingua, Very Subtle, Serena’s Song and Indian Blessing.
Three years ago, champion and fan favorite emerged victorious, while multiple G1-winner and 2019 Horse of the Year finalist Midnight Bisou won two years back. Last year, Bellafina won the race.
This may be one of the few Southern California stakes for 3-year-olds that doesn’t rank Baffert as the top conditioner. He’s sent out four winners to D. Wayne Lukas’s five and this year looks to tie his friend.
Fresh off her a win the Starlet Stakes (G1) a month ago, Bast, a daughter of Uncle Mo, has been training well for this first step toward the Kentucky Oaks and is already a winner around two turns, so this cut back in distance to seven furlongs should be no problem. Drayden Van Dyke will be back in the irons and the two will break from the far outside post position of seven.
Baffert’s second runner is Auberge, who drew the inside in her first start since breaking her maiden by 7 ¾ lengths over this track at six furlongs more than two months back. Flavien Prat will take over on this expensive daughter of Palace for owners Speedway Stables, and while she seems to have a sprinters pedigree, she should be able to handle the distance and hopefully the pressure if Prat sends from the break, which will probably be Baffert’s instructions.
Baffert also sends out Golden Principal for her first start since a debut win five weeks ago at Del Mar. The filly has shown talent in the mornings, including a nice bullet from the gate in 1:12 4/5 last Saturday, and she is certain to be fine with the distance and even farther as she’s by Constitution and out of a Medaglia d’Oro mare. Mike Smith has the call and breaks from the No. 2 post. Golden Principal has some stalking ability and is in good hands with Smith.
Simon Callaghan sent out Bellafina to win this race last year and this year will have Paige Anne, who cuts back a furlong off her maiden win last out at Los Alamitos in her fifth start. She’s always competitive and gives her all, so her best under Joe Talamo should earn her a piece.
Lovely Lilia broke her maiden for a $30,000 price tag back in September and came back to win an optional claiming race last out. She is a daughter of Derby and Dubai World Cup winner Animal Kingdom, and should appreciate more distance. Trainer Phil D’Amato and jockey Abel Cedillo both seek a first win in this event.
Trainer Jeff Mullins sends out both K P Dreamin and Orquidias Biz, both fillies looking for an initial stakes win. The former was a well-beaten third behind Bast in the Starlet after a poor Breeders’ Cup performance and the latter was second in the Desi Arnaz stakes last out after breaking her maiden on the Santa Anita turf.
The Santa Ynez is Sunday’s seventh race and post time is 3:38 p.m. PT.