Three very talented distaffers, Fault, Madam Dancealot and Sassy Little Lila head a competitive field of nine older fillies and mares in Sunday’s Grade II, $200,000 Santa Ana Stakes at a mile and one eighth over the Santa Anita turf.
Separated by just two lengths in the Grade II Buena Vista Stakes at a flat mile on turf Feb. 17, Fault, in her first Southern California start, was an impressive winner at odds of 12-1. The 2-1 favorite in the Buena Vista, Irish-bred Madam Dancealot closed much ground, but had to settle for fifth money, as she was beaten by two lengths.
Sassy Little Lila, who stalked the pace throughout at 9-2, flattened out a bit late to finish fourth, beaten 1 ½ lengths, but appears the speed of the Santa Ana field and will likely employ front-running tactics from her outside post.
Owner: Agave Racing Stable and Little Red Feather Racing Trainer: Phil D’Amato
An emphatic one length winner of the Buena Vista in her first start for D’Amato, this 4-year-old daughter of Blame earned a lofty 96 Beyer Speed figure in what appeared to be anything but a flukish performance at one mile on turf. Nonetheless, she’s cross-entered in Saturday’s Grade I Santa Margarita on dirt and may opt for the bigger purse of $400,000. If she runs on what has been her preferred surface, she looks like the horse to beat in Sunday’s Santa Ana with Geovanni Franco back aboard. A Grade III winner on turf in Chicago last August, Fault was claimed for $50,000 10 starts back on May 3 at Churchill Downs. With three out of her four wins coming on turf, she’ll be making her 15th career start on Sunday.
Owner: Slam Dunk Racing
Trainer: Richard Baltas
Far back early in the one mile Buena Vista, this 4-year-old Irish-bred filly came running under Corey Nakatani, but never threatened the winner. A close second two starts back in the Grade I American Oaks at a mile and one quarter on turf here Dec. 30, Madam Dancealot has run seven consecutive solid races for Baltas dating back to a classified allowance win here in May of last year. With Sassy Little Lila in the lineup on the far outside, there could be a lively early pace which would serve “Madam” and Nakatani well.
SASSY LITTLE LILA
Owner: Jeff Drown and Michael Ryan
Trainer: Richard Mandella
As she’d been idle since Nov. 4 prior to running a close fourth behind Fault in the Grade II Buena Vista Feb. 17, this 5-year-old Artie Schiller mare could improve with a recent race to her credit. With Flavien Prat back in the irons, she may opt to employ runaway tactics from her outside post, as it doesn’t appear any of her competition can stay with her early. With the best race on her form a narrow second place defeat in the Grade I, one mile turf Just a Game Stakes at Belmont Park last June, Sassy Little Lila was second, beaten just a nose, in Santa Anita’s Grade I American Oaks at 1 1/8 miles on turf in December, 2016. With a win and a second from two tries at the Santa Ana distance, Sassy Little Lila is 12-3-5-0 overall and looms extremely dangerous on Sunday.
THE GRADE II SANTA ANA STAKES WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER
Race 8 of 9
Approximate post time 3:30 p.m. PT
1. Madam Dancealot—Corey Nakatani—122
2. Fault—Geovanni Franco—124
3. Laseen—Kent Desormeaux—120
4. Majestic Angel—Mario Gutierrez—120
5. Evo Campo—Rafael Bejarano—122
6. Lucy De—Drayden Van Dyke—120
7. How Unusual—Joel Rosario—122
8. Midnight Crossing—Brice Blanc—122
9. Sassy Little Lila—Flavien Prat—120