Trainer Bob Baffert’s 3-year-old filly Eden’s Moon, whose dramatic
development has coincided with increased distances, will attempt to
build upon her devastating win in the one mile Las Virgenes Stakes when
the daughter of Malibu Moon is likely to be a heavy favorite in the 73rd
running of the Grade I, $300,000 Santa Anita Oaks on Saturday at 1 1/16
With two sparkling wins from three starts, Eden’s Moon has
become one of the leading contenders – along with unbeaten stablemate
Princess Arabella and Grace Hall – for the $1 million Kentucky Oaks, the
Kentucky Derby’s female counterpart, on May 4. Kaleem Shah’s bay filly
will be expected to solidify her status among five 3-year-old fillies in
the Santa Anita Oaks.
The Oaks, which will be contested as the fourth race, tops a
10-race program Saturday at Santa Anita that includes the inauguration
of a pair of $200,000 stakes races for California-bred 3-year-olds at 6 ½
furlongs on the main track: The Echo Eddie (tenth race) and the Evening
Jewel (eighth race) for fillies. Each attracted 13 entrants. First post
is at 12:30 p.m.
Among those who will attempt to keep up with Eden’s Moon in the
Oaks is the Lanni Family Trust’s Reneesgotzip, whose budding career has
largely shadowed that of her rival for trainer Peter Miller.
The pair debuted in a maiden race at six furlongs over Hollywood
Park’s Cushion Track on Dec. 18. At odds of 8-1, Reneesgotzip led every
step of the way while defeating 2-5 favorite Eden’s Moon by 2 ¼
lengths. “Second best” was the Daily Racing Form chart’s terse
description of the latter’s effort.
Reneesgotzip moved on to Santa Anita’s Grade II Santa Ynez
Handicap at 6 ½ furlongs. She romped home by 7 ¾ lengths while covering
the distance in 1:15 1/5 on Jan. 15. “She had shown a lot of ability,
but not this kind of ability,” Miller exclaimed afterward. In the
meantime, Eden’s Moon was stretched out to one mile on Jan. 8 when she
cruised to an 11 ½-length victory while breaking her maiden in 1:36 3/5.
Reneesgotzip was 6-5 and Eden’s Moon was 5-2, when they clashed
for a second time in the Grade I Las Virgenes Stakes at one mile on
March 3, and this time it was Baffert’s filly who showed the way. Eden’s
Moon defeated her nemesis by 3 ¼ lengths in 1:35 1/5. Prior to that,
she had broken her maiden going a mile by 11 ½ lengths on Jan. 8,
getting the distance in 1:36.60. She’s clearly a different horse around
Purchased for $390,000 last spring, Eden’s Moon will take
earnings of $192,600 into the Oaks with regular rider Martin Garcia in
the saddle. Reneesgotzip will be ridden for the first time by Garrett
Gomez. He replaces Corey Nakatani, who will be riding in Dubai.
Reneesgotzip has earned $167,000 in her three races.
The most experienced runner in the field is Willa B Awesome, an
earner of $248,896 from a 3-3-2 record in 11 starts. The California-bred
daughter of Awesome Gambler won the Grade III Santa Ysabel Stakes by 3 ½
lengths at the Oaks distance of 1 1/16 miles. But she couldn’t match
strides with either Eden’s Moon or Reneesgotzip when fourth in the Las
Virgenes. Martin Pedroza rides the chestnut filly trained by Walther
Solis for a partnership.
The complete field for the Santa Anita Oaks, with jockeys in
post position order (each starter carries 122 pounds): Eden’s Moon,
Martin Garcia; Reneesgotzip, Garrett Gomez; Willa B Awesome, Martin
Pedroza; Bella’s Fantasy, Mike Smith, and Conjure the Spirit, Joel