With the defection of reigning champion female sprinter Unique Bella due to a cough, Saturday’s $400,000 Santa Margarita Stakes (G1) has attracted a field of 10 distaffers to go 1 1/8 miles at Santa Anita Park.
Mopotism has been installed as the 7-2 morning-line favorite under regular jockey Mario Gutierrez. The Uncle Mo filly gutted out a head triumph in the La Canada Stakes (G2) to kick off her four-year-old campaign on January 13, but was no match last out for Unique Bella in the Santa Maria Stakes (G2), finishing ninth lengths behind that filly in second.
The Doug O’Neill-trained Mopotism also finished third behind Unique Bella in the December 26 La Brea Stakes (G1), and will attempt to take full advantage of her rival’s absence here.
Fault makes her second start for new trainer Philip D’Amato in the Santa Margarita while returning to the main track for the first time in 11 races. The Blame four-year-old broke her maiden on Fair Grounds’ dirt last year but two races later switched to turf, over which she ended up capturing the Buena Vista Stakes (G2) and Pucker Up Stakes (G3). The Buena Vista came going a mile at Santa Anita on February 17 under Geovanni Franco, who stays in the irons.
Majestic Heat captured the December 3 Bayakoa Stakes (G2) in just her second try on dirt after making her first 14 starts on turf. The Richard Mandella charge ran fifth in the La Canada next out and enters the Santa Margarita off third-placings in the Santa Maria and Spring Fever Stakes. Corey Nakatani has the call.
Mended saw her 10-race win streak, which included a victory in the Claiming Crown Glass Slipper in early December, broken when missing by a head in the La Canada. The Broken Vow mare spent the majority of that time in claimers and optional claimers, but won easily enough over both turf, dirt and Tapeta. Regular rider Ricardo Gonzalez keeps the mount here for trainer John Martin.
La Force just missed by two heads in the La Canada at 27-1 and returned next out to take an allowance/optional claimer going a mile at Santa Anita by two lengths. The Paddy Gallagher trainee earned a career-best 98 BRIS Speed rating for her La Canada effort and gets Mike Smith back in the saddle for this one.
Turkish Tabby will try to break a case of seconditis here from her past three starts for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. Once of those came as a nose runner-up on the Tapeta at Golden Gate Fields in the Camilla Urso Stakes, which was the Eskendereya mare’s first stakes attempt. Rajiv Maragh has the call as the five-year-old chestnut makes only her second start on dirt following eight races on Golden Gate’s Tapeta.
Eccentric Spinster was a head behind stablemate Turkish Tabby in her most recent effort on February 8 at Golden Gate. The Distorted Humor four-year-old tries conventional dirt for the first time in the Santa Margarita with Joel Rosario holding the reins.
Bishop’s Pond ships in from the Northeast, having wired the Thirty Eight Go Go Stakes at Laurel Park by 5 1/2 lengths when last seen on January 8. The Jason Servis trainee has spent the majority of her 24-race career on turf but is proven on the dirt, as evidenced by her recent stakes win. Victor Espinoza will be in the pilot’s seat.
Mistressofthenight and Dalsaros were one-two, respectively, in a one-mile allowance/optional claimer at Santa Anita last out on February 23. The pair were separated by 2 1/4 lengths on the wire and renew their rivalry here. Mistressofthenight has Kent Desormeaux returning to the saddle while Dalsaros gets Tyler Baze in the irons for the first time.
A pair of turf stakes also take place on Saturday at Santa Anita.
The $200,000 Pasadena Stakes sends a field of nine, including undefeated California Cup Derby winner Heck Yeah as well as and Baffle Stakes one-two Pubilius Syrus and Afleet Ascent, a mile over the green one race before the Santa Margarita.
Earlier on the card, six distaffers were assembled for the $100,000 Irish O’Brien Stakes going about 6 1/2 furlongs on the downhill turf including last-out Spring Fever Stakes winner Miss Sunset and Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf Sprint victress How About Zero.