In addition to the eagerly-anticipated Santa Anita Derby (G1) and Oaks (G2), the Great Race Place hosts five other stakes on Saturday, led by the Royal Heroine (G2) and Monrovia (G2).
Royal Heroine (G2) – Race 7 (6:17 p.m. ET)
Comebacker Going Global has been installed as the 4-5 favorite on the morning line for the $200,000 Royal Heroine over a grassy mile. A perfect 4-for-4 on the Santa Anita turf, the Phil D’Amato filly later enhanced her resume with victories in the Del Mar Oaks (G1) and Goldikova (G2). She tried the dirt when the American Oaks (G1) was taken off the turf, but the Irish-bred retreated to sixth. Going Global has been freshened since that Dec. 26 attempt, and she aims to regain the winning habit in her preferred element.
In her absence, stablemate Excelerina has burst onto the scene with dynamic maiden and allowance wins in her first two stateside starts. The fellow Irish export will try to deploy the same turn of foot on the cutback from 1 1/8 miles and simultaneous class hike.
Rounding out the short field of five are Avenue de France, a rattling third in the Megahertz (G3) and better-than-appears sixth in the Buena Vista (G2) in her past two; Park Avenue, who wired her turf debut for John Sadler; and Godolphin’s multiple Grade 3-placed Javanica.
Monrovia (G2) – Race 1 (3 p.m. ET)
Classy turf sprinter Tobys Heart ships in for the $200,000 Monrovia over the about 6 1/2-furlong downhill course. The Brian Lynch trainee reverts to her game after trying her hand at routes. Her trio of stakes laurels – the 2020 Bolton Landing S. at Saratoga and last season’s Limestone S. at Keeneland and the lucrative Music City S. at Kentucky Downs – makes her a top threat if adapting to the unique track.
Her main rivals have the advantage of familiarity with the downhill. Tapwater just missed in the course-and-distance Las Cienegas (G3), but got no closer than fifth in the Wishing Well S. at a conventional 6 1/2 furlongs. Wishing Well winner Alice Marble was previously runner-up to Leggs Galore in the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf on this course. Royal Address, a French stakes vixen at two, recently got up in an allowance.
Eddie Kenneally dispatches Brooke Marie, a winner at both Keeneland meets in 2021 who comes off a productive Fair Grounds stint. After a breakthrough score in the Pan Zareta S., she was third in the Frederick Aime Memorial. Cover Version has found Turf Paradise more her speed.
Providencia (G3) – Race 5 (5:05 p.m. ET)
The $100,000 Providencia (G3) for three-year-old fillies marks the return to turf of Cairo Memories. Impressive in her Del Mar unveiling and in last fall’s Surfer Girl S. here, the Bob Hess Jr. pupil was ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1). Cairo Memories took a detour onto the dirt for the Road to the Kentucky Oaks, placing a fine second in the Starlet (G1) but fading to a remote seventh in the Santa Ysabel (G3) last out.
D’Amato won last year’s Providencia with Going Global, and he now relies on another Emerald Isle recruit in Sixteen Arches. She has two other points in common, as a daughter of Mehmas who opened her account on the Dundalk Polytrack. But Sixteen Arches accomplished that in her career debut and therefore arrives in Southern California as the winner of her lone start.
Lucky Girl, who outperformed her 6-1 odds to land the Lady of Shamrock S. and China Doll S., bids for the hat trick as she steps up to 1 1/8 miles. She leads the Richard Baltas trio that also comprises China Doll third Sterling Crest and fifth Gold Dragon Queen, earlier third in the Lady of Shamrock. Cal-bred Eleuthera steps up from a maiden tally in open company.
The stakes action includes a pair of $150,000 Cal-restricted events for sophomores, the Echo Eddie S. (Race 2) and the Evening Jewel S. (Race 10) for fillies, both at 6 1/2 furlongs on the main track.