On Saturday, while all eyes watch champion Good Magic return to action in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (GII) at Gulfstream Park, potential superstar Dream Tree will put her undefeated record on the line in the $100,000 Santa Ysabel Stakes (GIII) at Santa Anita as she makes her way toward potentially being the favorite for the May 4 Kentucky Oaks (GI).
Rain finally returned to Southern California and steady showers are set to continue into the day on Saturday, so a wet track is more than likely. And it will be cool with highs in the mid-50s.
The Santa Ysabel once was just a nondescript stakes for 3-year-old fillies on the Santa Anita calendar. And even though some really good ladies have won the race, including Jeanne Jones, Gorgeous, Antespend, Sharp Cat, Surfside and Sweet Catomine, the 1 1/16-mile main track test has become a much more prominent stop for well-meant sophomore fillies over the last few years.
In 2015, champion Stellar Wind emerged victorious before heading to Louisville to be favored in the Oaks; two years ago, Songbird was the Santa Ysabel winner before injury kept her out of the Oaks gate; and a year ago, Unique Bella emerged victorious, also before injury sidelined her before a trip to Louisville.
This year, six will race the 1 1/16 miles and morning line favorite Dream Tree will break from the outside under Drayden VanDyke. The Phoenix Thoroughbreds-owned daughter of Uncle Mo has improved in each of her four starts and, though her Brisnet speed figure regressed a bit off her Starlet Stakes (GI) win to her Las Virgenes Stakes (GII) score last out, it was a handy victory nonetheless.
Her best is better than the field and while the Bob Baffert trainee will likely be trying a wet track for the first time, Uncle Mo as a sire has a strong mud influence, as does Afleet Alex as a broodmare sire. She’s been training and working well in the mornings and, despite short odds, will be a good bet to take the win from just off the pace.
Midnight Bisou chased Dream Tree in her first two starts in maiden and non-graded stakes company and just could not get her nose up in time in both tries. But when she was Dream Tree-free in the Santa Ynez (GII) last out, she easily broke her maiden and won her first graded stakes in a romp at the same time, showing what she’s capable of.
Hall of Famer Mike Smith stays on the daughter of Midnight Lute, who has shown nice improvement each time she has made her way postward and trainer Bill Spawr has been working her regularly all month. She’s bred to sprint and is conditioned by a trainer known for champion sprinters (Spawr also trained Amazombie, 2011’s Eclipse Award winner), but she does have some help in the off track pedigree department and a later running style that will appreciate the predicted quick pace in front of her. She won’t need to improve much to post the mild upset.
Spring Lily faces winners for the first time after breaking her maiden at second asking in her second start — first for Hall of Fame nominee John Shirreffs — last out. She hasn’t raced two turns, but, as a daughter of Union Rags, she shouldn’t have too much trouble. She likes the lead and the Wygod family hombred has been training steadily all year at Santa Anita. She will need to show what she is capable of, but if she gets her trip she may be tough to catch on the lead.
California-bred stakes winner One Fast Broad, who has some dirt success including the Golden State Juvenile Fillies Stakes at Del Mar, returns to the main track off a pair of seconds in added-money competition on the turf. She’s been around two turns and she will be closing into the pace, which will help. And as a daughter of Decarchy, she has a solid mud pedigree. It’s definitely worth watching the tote board if she looks good in the paddock.
Thirteen Squared is the “other” Baffert in here, but after her clunker in the Las Virgenes behind Dream Tree she’d have to improve a lot to post an upset.
Sweetsongofthenile is well-bred, but seems in over her head.
The Santa Ysabel Stakes has been carded as the day’s sixth with a 3:00 pm. PT post time.