A field of eight distaffers has been entered to go a mile in Saturday’s $200,000 La Canada Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park, and Majestic Heat is seeking her third straight stakes victory for trainer Richard Mandella.
The six-year-old daughter of Unusual Heat is also looking to keep her record on dirt perfect when lining up in the La Canada. Majestic Heat competed exclusively on turf until last November. Following a pair of subpar efforts on grass against graded competition, the dark bay mare was switched to Del Mar’s main track for the seven-furlong Betty Grable Stakes and romped by 3 1/4 lengths.
She then showed up for the 1 1/16-mile Bayakoa Stakes (G2) at Los Alamitos most recently and recorded a 2 1/2-length victory. Jockey Mike Smith was in the saddle for the first time that day and retains the mount for the La Canada.
Lining up against Majestic Heat are Union Strike and Mopotism, as well as Mended and Sandy’s Surprise.
Trainer Mick Ruis was mulling Monday’s Megahertz Stakes (G3) on the grass for Union Strike, but ultimately decided to keep the Grade 1-winning filly in this spot. The four-year-old daughter of Union Rags broke her maiden in the Del Mar Debutante (G1) in 2016 and captured last April’s Santa Paula Stakes for her only victories to date. Union Strike hasn’t competed since a well-beaten fifth in the Acorn Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park on June 10 and gets Corey Nakatani in the irons for the La Canada.
Mopotism closed out her sophomore campaign on December 26 with a nice third in the La Brea Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita. That followed a fifth-placing in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) for the Doug O’Neill pupil, who has proven time and again she can stand up with the best in her division. However, the Uncle Mo miss hasn’t visited the winner’s circle since taking the Island Fashion Stakes last February and will try to rectify that here under Mario Gutierrez.
Mended brings a 10-race win streak into the La Canada for trainer John Martin. The Broken Vow mare began her winning skein last February at Golden Gate Fields, where she was claimed one race earlier. Mended’s most recent win came in the Claiming Crown Glass Slipper and she’ll make her first start against stakes rivals in this spot.
Sandy’s Surprise is taking a step up in class here but romped by 4 3/4 lengths in the Zia Park Oaks in her most recent start on November 22. The O’Neill pupil is 3-1-2-0 on Santa Anita’s main track and has Rafael Bejarano in the pilot’s seat Saturday.
Completing the La Canada field are Tranquility Lake Stakes heroine Shenandoah Queen, dual stakes-placed La Force and stakes debuter Resky Business.