January 24, 2021

Baffert quartet in Santa Ynez includes Varda, Kalypso

Varda gives Bob Baffert his seventh victory in the Starlet © BENOIT PHOTO

Santa Ynez Stakes — Race 8 — 7 p.m. ET

Varda and Kalypso provided Bob Baffert with a one-two finish in last month’s Starlet (G1) at Los Alamitos, but comprise only half of the Hall of Fame trainer’s entries in Sunday’s $200,000 Santa Ynez Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita.

Contested over 7 furlongs, the Santa Ynez will award 2021 Kentucky Oaks qualifying points of 10-4-2-1 to the top four finishers.

Baffert has saddled the winner of the Santa Ynez five times and swept the top three placings in last year’s edition. He could do so again. Varda is the primary threat having won the Starlet after stablemate and favorite Princess Noor, to whom she finished second in the Chandelier (G1), was pulled up in upper stretch with a career-ending injury when seemingly on her way to victory.

Kalypso, who captured the 6-furlong Anoakia S. before tiring to second in the 1 1/16-mile Starlet after setting the pace, will race with blinkers off and looms a leading threat cutting back in distance. Exotic West, a debut winner at Del Mar on Nov. 21, and the three-start maiden Frosteria comprise the other half of the Baffert contingent and merit respect also.

Others of note in the small field are Queengol, runner-up in both the Anoakia and Desi Arnaz S. in her last two, and Starlet third-place finisher Nadreddine, who beat Frosteria to break her maiden two starts back.

Looking to spring an upset is Brilliant Cut, who trainer Doug O’Neill claimed for $50,000 from a Nov. 20 maiden victory at Del Mar in her fourth start.