January 1st serves as a universal birthday for all northern hemisphere race horses. Regardless of foal date, everyone gets a year older. And with that, the sophomores of 2015 now become four-year-olds thrust into open company. Additionally the juveniles become three-year-olds as well. Those three-year-olds are the focus of this week's races at Picks & Ponderings, including Nicolle Neulist's examination of the G3 Jerome Stakes from Aqueduct. Here, we go to the opposite coast and opposite gender. While the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct is on the road to the Kentucky Derby, the Santa Ynez Stakes from from Santa Anita Park sits on the road to the Kentucky Oaks.
Named for the town of Santa Ynez, California, on the coast and north of Santa Anita known for its missions and wineries, the Santa Ynez Stakes was shortened a half furlong in 2012 after three-plus decades as a seven-furlong race. Traditionally in the first month of the year, the Santa Ynez Stakes is restricted to three-year-old fillies and carries Grade Two status with Santa Anita offering two hundred grand in purse funds. A Kentucky Oaks prep, it's also by an extension a Santa Anita Oaks prep.
While the Santa Ynez serves as a Kentucky Oaks prep that provides a 10-4-2-1 point allotment to the 1-2-3-4 finishers (the winner with ten, and so forth) the Grade Two $200,000 Santa Ynez Stakes has produced only one winner that was also a Kentucky Oaks winner, Susan's Girl (also a Hall of Famer) in 1972. Other high-profile victors of the Santa Ynez include Very Subtle (1987), who beat the boys in that year's Breeders' Cup Sprint, Sehrena's Song (1995), who also beat the boys twice as a three-year-old, and Indian Blessing (2008), who would be named champion Female Sprinter as a three-year-old.
This race is scheduled to take place on Saturday January 2.
Edited January 2 to reflect race-day scratches.
Santa Anita -- Race 3 -- G2 Santa Ynez Stakes -- Six and a half furlongs on Dirt -- post time 1:30 pm PT
Turning back to a sprint may be the key for PRETTY N COOL, who recruits Martin Garcia to ride for Bob Baffert. Three back she was a winner at three-quarters in the G2 Matron at Belmont, then last time had the outside trip to STREAMING's better inside trip in a six-figure stakes at Del Mar. Perhaps two turns isn't what she wants, but she was stepped up to the G1 Starlet Stakes at Los Al. PRETTY N COOL might get the lead no one wants, but she did press and win earlier in the summer in the G2 Sorrento at this race's distance. Baffert is 36% wins/58% top three going route to sprint, and that's in play for PRETTY COOL. Rail-drawn MY DYNAMO tried and failed against divisional champion Songbird three back in the G1 Del Mar Debutante (where PRETTY N COOL was second), but that was her second career start and first against winners. A case of too much too soon, MY DYNAMO cleared the N1X condition two back at Del Mar and shipped up north to hit the podium in a $50K stake at Golden Gate. Perhaps the Tapeta wasn't her thing, but she does get back to dirt after the trip north. Solid clock-based works are in play and if the pace gets wicked up front she has a chance - though her inside draw does her no favors given her swing-wide tendencies. While trainer Bob Baffert has three in here (PRETTY N COOL, TREASURING, ONE LAST SHOT) and the pick is the one expected to be favored, the ever popular uncoupled entry is at play. TREASURING got the better trip in the Desi Arnaz and may not have moved forward off her graduation Perhaps ONE LAST SHOT is the way to go. By Any Given Saturday out of a Dayjur mare, dirt should certanly be within the scope for this filly that was second-to-last in the G3 Jimmy Durante at Del Mar. Both of the career podium finishes have been oon dirt for her, though there's an addition second on sod in a $100K frosh stake at Del Mar. As she's built up a swing-em-wide style already, having Mike Smith aboard could be an asset. The same strong route --sprint percentages apply here.
#7 PRETTY N COOL (5/2)
#1 MY DYNAMO (8/1)
#5 ONE LAST SHOT (8/1)
Longshot: This space originally tabbed #2 ROCKANTHROS at 20/1 on the morning line. She scratched the morning of the race. I guess those Christmas decorations aren't coming down themselves, so....
Photograph sourced from Wikimedia Commons, and part of the public domain.
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