Grade 1 winner Abel Tasman will take on six rivals Saturday in the $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks (G1), which is part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series of points races.
The Santa Anita Oaks will award 100-40-20-10 points to the respective top four finishers toward a starting berth in the Kentucky Oaks (G1). Abel Tasman already ranks in the top 10 on the Kentucky Oaks Leaderboard with 30 points and could pad her resume with a win in the 1 1/16-mile Santa Anita Oaks.
The Bob Baffert trainee’s chances increased when it was announced last month that division leader Unique Bella had been sidelined with a shin injury. That filly easily beat Abel Tasman when the pair met in the Santa Ysabel Stakes (G3) last out on March 4. Abel Tasman was making her sophomore bow in that contest off a win in the December 10 Starlet Stakes (G1) and gets a jockey change to Mike Smith for this one.
It Tiz Well, Mopotism and Princess Karen also failed to stand against Unique Bella and should enjoy her absence on Saturday.
It Tiz Well is a stablemate of Unique Bella, also trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, and finished a well-beaten second to her in the Santa Ynez Stakes (G2) on January 8. Since then, the dark bay daughter of Arch has easily captured an allowance/optional claimer and the Honeybee Stakes (G3). Corey Nakatani returns to the saddle.
Mopotism sandwiched a maiden win and victory in the Island Fashion Stakes around a well-beaten second to Unique Bella in the Las Virgenes Stakes (G2). Mario Gutierrez was aboard for trainer Doug O’Neill in the Uncle Mo filly’s last start and retains the mount for the Santa Anita Oaks.
Princess Karen felt the sting of Unique Bella when fourth in the Santa Ynez, her only loss to date. The lightly raced Jeff Bonde pupil broke her maiden prior to that start and returned March 10 to taken an allowance/optional claimer. Gary Stevens takes the reins for the first time on Princess Karen Saturday.
Paradise Woods just broke her maiden by 4 1/4 lengths in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden on March 11 and will face the stretch out, as well as stakes rivals, with Flavien Prat in the irons for trainer Richard Mandella. Majestic Quality is still a maiden but managed to get up for second in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes (G2) at 23-1 last out. Kent Desormeaux has the call for his brother, trainer Keith Desormeaux.
Bernina Star, fourth in the China Doll Stakes last out under returning rider Santiago Gonzalez, completes the Santa Anita Oaks field for trainer James Cassidy.