Fiftyshadesofhay, a troubled fourth in the Grade II La Canada Stakes Jan. 19, and Iotapa, and impressive gate to wire winner of the Grade II Santa Maria Stakes Feb. 15, head a competitive field of eight older fillies and mares going 1 1/8 in Saturday’s Grade I, $350,000 Santa Margarita Stakes at Santa Anita.
Photo: Jack Coady/Coady Photography
The 6-5 second choice in the 1 1/16 miles La Canada, Fiftyshadesofhay, who was expected to be on or near the lead with Mike Smith, was bumped hard leaving the gate, forcing Smith to check and was relegated to next-to-last going into the Club House turn.
“It definitely cost me the race…,” said Smith who orchestrated a stretch rally that resulted in Fiftyshadesofhay being beaten about one length by longshot Spellbound.
Trained by Bob Baffert, Fiftyshadesofhay established herself as one of America’s top 3-year-olds in 2013 by running second and third, respectively, to eventual 3-year-old Eclipse Award winning filly Beholder in the Grade I Las Virgenes Stakes and the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks.
Owned by Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman, Fiftyshadesofhay won the Grade II Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico May 17 and her last win came five starts back in the Grade III Iowa Oaks June 29. A Kentucky-bred filly by Pulpit, her overall mark stands at 14-4-4-3 and she has earnings of $796,297.
Dismissed at 16-1 and 16 lengths off the pace after the first half mile in the La Canada, Spellbound ran into swift splits of 22.80, 45.40 and 1:09.60 to edge Let Faith Arise by a neck in garnering her first stakes victory. Trained by Richard Mandella and owned by Ramona Bass, LLC, Clairborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, Spellbound will hope to once again have a fast pace to run at.
A 4-year-old Kentucky-bred filly by Bernardini, Spellbound has three wins from eight starts and earnings of $208,750.
Iotapa earned a career best 99 Beyer Speed figure in winning the Santa Maria by 1 ¾ lengths and she heads a group of four fillies exiting the race. Trained by John Sadler, Iotapa has been a gem of consistency, with four wins, three seconds and a third from eight starts. Claimed for $50,000 out of her first start on June 21, 2012, she was second to Beholder in just her third try, the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks on April 6, 2013.
Owned by Hronis Racing, the 4-year-old filly by Afleet Alex has earnings of $363,490 and could easily go favored in the prestigious Santa Margarita.
Jerry Hollendorfer’s improving Let Faith Arise was a sharp second, beaten 1 ¾ lengths by Iotapa at 5-2 in the Santa Maria and was second, beaten a neck by Spellbound two starts back in the La Canada at odds of 14-1.
A 4-year-old Kentucky-bred filly by Kafwain, Let Faith Arise appears best suited to a stalking scenario and is owned by her breeder, Tommy Town Thoroughbreds, LLC. She has four wins, two seconds and a third from nine starts, with earnings of $170,240.
Hollendorfer will also saddle the up and coming Macha, a second condition allowance winner going 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita Feb. 13—her first career attempt on natural dirt. Owned by Hollendorfer and Green Smith, the 4-year-old New York-bred filly by Majestic Warrior has three wins from 12 starts.
A Grade III, 1 1/16 miles stakes winner three starts back on Oct. 26 at Belmont Park, Stanwyck broke a bit slowly and was third, beaten 3 ½ lengths by Iotapa in the Santa Maria Feb. 15. Trained by John Shirreffs, she is one of several who would benefit from a trouble-free, stalking trip.
A 5-year-old Kentucky-bred mare by Empire Maker, Stanwyck is a half sister to 2005 Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo and is owned by her breeders, Jerry and Ann Moss. Named for the late Academy Award-winning actress Barbara Stanwyck, she has earnings of $262,250 from an overall mark of 12-3-2-4.
Well regarded in her U.S. debut, Argentine-bred Miss Serendipity was fourth as the 2-1 favorite in the 1 1/16 miles Paseana Stakes Jan. 12, and was subsequently fourth, beaten 2 ¼ lengths in the Grade II, one mile turf Buena Vista Handicap Feb. 17.
Trained by Ron McAnally, Miss Serendipity, a 6-year-old mare, has been forwardly placed in both of her local starts and should be up close returning to dirt in the Santa Margarita. Owned by Anselmo Cavalieri, Miss Serendipity is 21-5-5-2 with earnings of $139,358.
Like Miss Serendipity, Yahilwa will be making her third stateside start in the Santa Margarita. Off at 27-1 in the Santa Maria, Yahilwa pressed the pace with Tyler Baze and weakened late, finishing fourth, beaten four lengths, by Iotapa.
Trained by Jim Cassidy and owned by DP Racing, LLC, Yahilwa earned a much-improved 92 Beyer in the Santa Maria and will hope to step forward in her first try at 1 1/8 miles. She has two wins, a second and four thirds from 14 starts.
The complete field for the Santa Margarita, to be run as the seventh race on a nine-race card Saturday, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Fiftyshadesofhay, Martin Garcia, 118; Spellbound, Victor Espinoza, 118; Macha, Rafael Bejarano, 118; Miss Serendipity, Brice Blanc, 120; Let Faith Arise, Corey Nakatani, 118; Stanwyck, Gary Stevens, 118; Iotapa, Joe Talamo, 118, and Yahilwa, Tyler Baze, 118.