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 2014 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 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, Serena’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.
Morning line odds for this race race scheduled to take place on Saturday January 3 were not available at original publish time.
Updated January 1 to include morning lines.
Santa Anita — Race 7 — Grade 2 Santa Ynez Stakes — 6 1/2 furlongs on dirt — post time 3:30 pm PT
A winner on debut at today’s distance down at Del Mar, RATTATAPTAP gets the nod here. Of course that graduation was on synthetic, but RATTATAPTAP has the pedigree to handle dirt fine, being from the Tapit-Pulpit sire line and out of a Grade 3 winner on dirt. She brings in a team that in the last two months has united eight times in the last two months, with three wins and two more money finishes. As the Del Mar synthetic played to forward types throughout the Fall, her closing style to graduate indicates she can move forward, or at the worst duplicate what she did in start one. RATTATAPTAP, as an off-the-pace type, should get the adequate pace targets to reel in as well. CONQUEST HARLANATE gets to try dirt for the first time, with that surface issue not being too much of an issue in the pedigree. A Conquest Stables production saddled by Mark Casse, she ran two nice one-turn starts earlier in the year at Woodbine and climbed her way up to win the G2 Natalma. She stretched her speed to two turns in Woodbine’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies prep, then got caught wide on the turf in the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf. Having Mike Smith climb aboard helps, and this one turns back to one turn for this Grade Two. Going turf to dirt isn’t too positive (45 outs, 7% wins), but Casse has shipped well (think Lexie Lou) to Southern California in recent months. Perhaps the speed of the speed in this sophomore filly sprint is assigned to the rail in SEDUIRE. Seen last time out winning a minor stakes upstate at Golden Gate, she graduated over this dirt surface last summer and is a double stakes winner by virtue of the last out win and another at Santa Rosa. Second off the layoff for this sophomore filly that two back over this dirt course was second in a minor stakes over this dirt. Jockey/trainer team has five top three finishes in the last six starts.
#6 RATTATAPTAP (5/1)
#8 CONQUEST HARLANATE (6/1)
#1 SEDUIRE (4/1)
Longshot: Seems anything Jerry Hollendorfer sends out nowadays is live. Along with wins in the G1 La Brea and G1 Malibu, half of his starters have hit the top three in the first week of the Santa Anita meet. So using #3 LIGHT THE CITY (3/1), a Hollendorfer trainee, makes sense. It makes more sense as this is one of two in here from our trainer in focus. And LIGHT THE CITY won the Anoakia Stakes two back over today’s dirt. Last seen in a listed stakes downstate at Del Mar where she was third. Unlike stablemate SEDUIRE, LIGHT THE CITY might be more tactical, able to pull back off a hot pace or be the lead if need be. LIGHT THE CITY has Elvis Trujillo riding, who isn’t perhaps yet getting clobbered at the windows with live mounts like a Talamo or a Bejerano (he’s on SEDUIRE) or a Mike Smith. However, this is the same jockey/trainer team that booted home the La Brea winner at 12-1 on the meet’s opening day. This space will find out if the hot trainer can stay hot.
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