Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
It doesn't quite have the star power of the Santa Anita Derby, but the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks is set to provide just as much excitement Saturday. Seven 3-year-old fillies will go postward, including a Breeders' Cup champion who could re-establish herself as a major player.
Ria Antonia will make her first start for Bob Baffert this weekend, and the Juvenile Fillies winner has been installed as the 2-1 morning line favorite. Ria Antonia's 2014 debut saw her be distanced by Untapable, but she has been working very well at the Great Race Place, the site of her biggest triumph last November.
Breaking to her inside, though, is 5/2 second choice Fashion Plate, who figures to be the race's main early speed. The daughter of Old Fashioned most recently wired the field in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes and will stretch out to a mile and an eighth for the first time. The distance is a question, especially given her shortening stride late in the Las Virgenes, but if the Simon Callaghan trainee is allowed to dictate the pace early, she could be very tough to run down late.
Also coming out of the Las Virgenes is a filly that should love the added distance. Arethusa was flying late that day, and on Saturday, she'll be ridden by Rafael Bejarano, the meet's leading rider. Her work tab has been consistent, and if she gets a pace to run at, the regally-bred daughter of A.P. Indy could fulfill her lofty potential at a bit of a price.
Additionally, John Sadler sends out recent maiden winner Honey Ride, and Jerry Hollendorfer will saddle Artemis, who chased Awesome Baby in last month's Santa Ysabel. Longshots Bajan and Smoove It complete the field, which shrunk from eight to seven with the scratch of Kissin Lucky Lips.
The Oaks acts as the fifth of 11 races on Saturday's card. Post time is set for 2:01 p.m. Pacific time.