Saturday’s 7th race from Santa Anita Park is the Grade 2 Santa Maria Stakes for fillies and mares traveling a mile and a sixteenth on the main track (Post Time 7:08 p.m. EDT).
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No. 4 PRIVATE MISSION (9-5) won two graded routes as a sophomore last year including the Zenyatta (G2) at this course and distance last fall. She wilted when setting a wicked pace in the Breeders Cup Distaff (G1), and turned back and finished an uncomfortable 6th of 7 in the La Brea (G1). She returned in the Las Flores (G3) at six panels March 13, and she set the pace and was clearly second best behind runaway winner Edgeway. She stretches back out and catches a favorable race shape. She can set the pace or press and looks like a solid threat vs. five opponents.
No. 1 Lady Mystify (3-1) might be intent on the early lead from the inside post with Edwin Maldonado in the saddle. The fresh filly fired in seven of nine career starts and is a graded winner.
No. 3 Blue Stripe (5-2) got pace help in her late running upset at 6-1 in the Santa Margarita (G2) at nine panels April 30. She seems best at longer distances and might not be as effective at a mile and a sixteenth, especially if the pace is on the tepid side.
No. 6 Varda (5-1) has the most upside in this field. She won the Starlet (G1) in just her third career start in 2020, missed all of 2021, and exits a pair of distant, rallying show finishes in the Beholder Mile (G1) and Santa Margarita (G2). This is her winning distance and she can rally for a share.
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Trifecta Key 4/1-3-6
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