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Eden's Moon Heavy Favorite in Santa Anita Oaks

Eden's Moon wins the G1 Las Virgenes

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 miles.

 

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 two turns.

 

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 Rosario.

 

 

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