Photo: Benoit Photo/Santa Anita
I believe that Tyler Baze was right on target when he hopped off Show Stealer after the Grade 2 Santa Maria Stakes and said, “I keep thinking that someone will hook up with Vale Dori, and I’ll get the dream trip, but no one hooks up with her. I let (Show Stealer) sneak up there a bit on Vale Dori down the backside. I didn’t want to leave her a whole lot to do, knowing how slow we were going. She ran a great race once again, though. One of these days, she can outrun the rest of them so..."
The problem for Tyler Baze is that he may well be picking the most inopportune time to get off of Show Stealer. You cannot blame him for instead choosing to ride Finest City in Saturday's Grade 1 Santa Margarita Stakes. She is an Eclipse Award winner coming off a pair of impressive victories, after all, but Baze and his mount might be just the pair he was talking about after the latest Vale Dori victory.
There can be little doubt that the Santa Margarita is headlined by the red-hot pair of Vale Dori and Finest City. While the latter romped home in the Grade 2 Santa Monica in her only race after a season that brought her the Female Sprint Champion award, the former is on an even bigger roll, having collected four straight, including three consecutive in Grade 2 racing.
With those type of credentials, it's easy to see why Vale Dori and Finest City will vie for favoritism is the weekend feature at Santa Anita. So why is that I am choosing the 8-1 shot on the morning line, Show Stealer, as my top choice? Let's revisit that quote from Tyler Baze.
While Vale Dori had things all her own way in three straight victories over Show Stealer, things look to play out a little differently in the Santa Margarita. Both Vale Dori and Finest City are mares that like to press the pace. Without the other, each would loom a commanding, pace-setting presence on Saturday, but against one another, they figure to make like difficult for the other.
While the two favorites are going at it, this seems like a race tailor-made for a mare that can pick them up and lay them down in the stretch. Enter Show Stealer.
Trained by Art Sherman, the five-year-old daughter of Eskendereya is on the improve, and really coming into her own of late. While clearly second best to Vale Dori in both the La Canada and Santa Maria, she received little help on the front end in both, as the winner was able to cruise into the far turn of each on the lead and comfortable. Saturday, Show Stealer should finally have the early pressure on Vale Dori that her jockey ironically yearned for after the last one.
With Baze on Finest City, Hall of Fame rider Kent Desormeaux moves in for the mount. Together, I fully expect the pair to pull off a nice upset. Stay tuned -- it promises to be a real Show Stealer!