Santa Maria Stakes 2021: Odds, pace projection, preview

Santa Maria Stakes 2021: Odds, pace projection, preview
Photo: Casey Phillips/Eclipse Sportswire

As Time Goes By can further establish herself Saturday as one to watch in the distaff division. She can also give trainer Bob Baffert’s barn a needed boost.

The 4-year-old American Pharoah filly is the 2-5 morning-line favorite for the Grade 2, $200,000 Santa Maria Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita. Post time is 4:35 p.m. EDT, with TVG to show the 1 1/16-mile event for older fillies and mares.

Baffert saddled fillies Crystal Ball and Himiko to allowance victories May 8 at Churchill Downs. One day later, he announced Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit’s post-race drug test came back positive for an anti-inflammatory substance banned on race days in Kentucky.

Churchill Downs suspended Baffert on May 9 from racing at its track and the New York Racing Association followed suit this week. The Stronach Group, which operates Santa Anita, has not barred the Hall of Fame trainer from entering horses at its properties.

Baffert has three runners entered this weekend at Santa Anita. As Time Goes By headlines the Santa Maria Stakes on Saturday before Hudson Ridge and Reem race Sunday in the Cinema Stakes and a maiden optional claiming race, respectively.

None of Baffert’s eight starters since May 9 have won. Medina Spirit and Concert Tour crossed third and ninth, respectively, May 15 in the Preakness Stakes, while Beautiful Gift and Hozier also failed to earn stakes wins last weekend at Pimlico.

As Time Goes By is 2-for-3 so far in 2021, with each of her races coming at Santa Anita. She sandwiched wins in a January allowance race and April’s Santa Margarita Stakes (G2) around a runner-up finish in March to Swiss Skydiver in the Beholder Mile (G1).

Jockey Mike Smith gets the call on As Time Goes By, who will face only three rivals in the Santa Maria.

Ce Ce (6-5) is a two-time Grade 1 winner who made her 5-year-old debut last month with a local allowance victory. Trainer Michael McCarthy is riding high off saddling Rombauer to a victory last weekend in the Preakness.

Miss Stormy D (15-1) and This Tea (20-1) round out the field, both seeking their first graded stakes win. Last First Kiss scratched earlier this week.

Here is a look at the field for the 2021 Santa Maria Stakes (trainer and jockey in parentheses) with morning-line odds:

1. Last First Kiss, SCR

2. This Tea (George Papaprodromou, Kent Desormeaux), 20-1

3. Miss Stormy D (Carla Gaines, Juan Hernandez), 15-1

4. Ce Ce (Michael McCarthy, Victor Espinoza), 6-5

5. As Time Goes By (Bob Baffert, Mike Smith), 2-5

TimeformUS’ pace projections show Miss Stormy D going out to an early lead under jockey Juan Hernandez, with favorite As Time Goes By leading the pursuit.

Other Saturday stakes

Courtesy of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, here is a look at some of the day’s biggest stakes races. All times are EDT. 

For more on some of these events, check out Reinier Macatangay’s Saturday plays.

5:12 p.m. – $100,000 Seek Again Stakes, Belmont Park, FS2

Eight older horses (with two also-eligibles) have been entered for Belmont’s Seek Again at one mile on turf, with Juddmonte’s 6-year-old Flavius, who has run at seven U.S. tracks since arriving from Ireland in 2019, the 2-1 morning line favorite. Trained by Chad Brown, and breaking from post 10 under Javier Castellano, Flavius was beaten a length while finishing fourth in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1) at Santa Anita on March 6. Brown also saddles the 5-year-old Delaware, who won Aqueduct’s listed one-mile Danger’s Hour on April 10. West Point Throughbreds, William T. Freeman, William Sandbrook and Cheryl Manning’s 4-year-old Decorated Invader returns to Belmont where last year the son of Declaration of War won the Pennine Ridge (G2) and was second in the Hill Prince (G2) for trainer Christophe Clement. Decorated Invader also won the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Stakes (G2) at Saratoga after the Pennine Ridge. In his first start of 2021, Decorated Invader finished third in the Danger’s Hour. Joel Rosario rides Decorated Invader from post seven. The Thomas Bush-trained 4-year-old Get Smokin won last year’s Hill Prince and has a victory this year in the Tampa Bay Stakes (G3). Get Smokin will be ridden by Junior Alvarado from post five.

7:19 p.m. – $100,000 Honeymoon Stakes (G3), Santa Anita, TVG

CYBT, Michael Dubb, Saul Gevertz, Michael Nentwig and Ray Pagano’s Going Global, unbeaten in three starts in 2021 since arriving from Ireland, and Kaleem Shah’s Madone, a four-time winner, lead seven 3-year-old fillies in the Honeymoon Stakes going 1 1/8 miles on turf. Going Global, trained by Phil D’Amato and ridden from post six by Flavien Prat, has won in succession the six-furlong Sweet Life (G3), the listed one-mile China Doll and the 1 1/8-mile Providencia Stakes (G3), all at Santa Anita. Madone, trained by Simon Callaghan and ridden by Juan Hernandez from post seven, won her first three starts last year, which included the listed Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf, and the Surfer Girl at Santa Anita. In November, she finished eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Keeneland, unable to sustain a drive after the turn for home. Her 2021 debut was in the Senorita Stakes (G3) on May 1. After stumbling at the start, the bay daughter of Vancouver stayed just off the rail in the upper stretch and then surged between horses to win by a length. Pizzazz, owned by Perry Bass II and Ramona Bass, won the California Oaks at Golden Gate Fields on April 24 for trainer Richard Mandella.

7:57 p.m. – $150,000 Winning Colors (G3), Churchill Downs, FS2

Frank Fletcher Racing’s Frank’s Rockette and Lloyd Madison Farms’ Sconsin are the likely favorites headlining six older fillies and mares in the Winning Colors, going six furlongs at Churchill Downs. Trained by Bill Mott, Frank’s Rockette, a seven-time winner, has been off the board just once in 13 starts. That one start was against males in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint, where she finished 11th. Prior to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, Frank’s Rockette won the Victory Ride (G3), the Prioress (G2) and the Gallant Bloom Handicap (G2). She made two listed starts at Oaklawn Park this year, winning the American Beauty and finishing second by 3/4 of a length in the six-furlong Carousel on April 10. A 4-year-old daughter of Into Mischief, Frank’s Rockette will be ridden by Florent Geroux from post two. Sconsin, trained by Greg Foley, was second by 1½ lengths to champion female sprinter Gamine in the Derby City Distaff (G2) on May 1 at Churchill. Last September, Sconsin, a 4-year-old by Include, won the Eight Belles (G2), also at Churchill. Sconsin will break from post four under Tyler Gaffalione.  

10:11 p.m. – $110,000 Keertana Stakes, Churchill Downs, FS2 

Maram’s Delta’s Kingdom seeks her first win of 2021 as the 5-2 morning line favorite in the $110,000 Keertana at Churchill Downs, one of 10 older fillies and mares entered for the 1 1/2-mile test on turf. Trained by Bill Mott, Delta’s Kingdom, a 5-year-old by Animal Kingdom, finished second in the Bewitch (G3) at Keeneland on April 23. Ridden by Florent Geroux from post eight, Delta’s Kingdom also finished second in the La Prevoyante (G2) at Gulfstream in January. Silverton Hill’s Pass the Plate, third in the Bewitch, finished second in Churchill’s Mrs. Revere (G3) last November for trainer Paul McGee. Rafael Bejarano rides Pass the Plate from post five. Bal Mar Equine’s 5-year-old gray/roan Dalika won the Albert M. Stall Memorial on Feb. 13 at the Fair Grounds, a race named after the father of her trainer, Al Stall Jr. Miguel Mena has the mount from post 10.

Santa Maria preview

From Santa Anita’s communications team:

A two-time Grade 1 stakes winner at age 4 and fresh off a sensational classified allowance win, Bo Hirsch’s homebred Ce Ce and lights-out Grade 2 winner As Time Goes By headline Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Santa Maria Stakes at Santa Anita. For fillies and mares 3 and up, the Santa Maria has attracted a field of four at a mile and one sixteenth.

Trained by recent Preakness Stakes-winning conditioner Michael McCarthy, Ce Ce slingshot off the turn for home en route to an emphatic 3¼-length score in a seven-furlong classified allowance here April 17 and will be ridden back by Victor Espinoza.

A 3¼-length winner of the Beholder Mile (G1) here in her sixth career start March 14, 2020, Ce Ce then took Oaklawn Park’s Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) by a head at the same distance April 18, 2020. She was a disappointing third as the 3-5 favorite in last year’s Santa Maria and was on a four-race losing streak prior to winning her comeback race April 17.

Ridden to all five of her victories by Espinoza, Ce Ce is a 5-year-old mare by Elusive Quality out of Hirsh’s Grade 1-winning Miss Houdini, who is by Belong to Me.  The leading money earner in the field with $904,100, Ce Ce has a win and two thirds from three tries at the Santa Maria distance.

Trained by Bob Baffert, As Time Goes By made an easy lead as the 3-5 favorite in the Santa Margarita Stakes (G2) here April 24 and exploded through the lane to win off by 9¼ lengths under Mike Smith, who rides back Saturday. Owned by Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith, As Time Goes By, who was second, beaten 2¾ lengths by Eclipse Champion Swiss Skydiver two starts back in the Beholder Mile on March 13, is 6: 3-2-1 overall with earnings of $260,600.

Top Stories

The Memorial Day weekend might be a chance to paus...
Baltimore It was hard to miss Saturday, wasn’t it?...
On a surface that was very kind to forwardly place...
In this biweekly series, racing analyst Keeler Joh...
Justify, 2018 Triple Crown hero, was undefeated as...