Cold Exacta Play for the 2022 Santa Maria Stakes

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

June 17th, 2022

A talented field of six fillies and mares will travel 1 1/16 miles over the Santa Anita dirt oval in Saturday’s $200,000 Santa Maria S. (G2). The feature attracted four graded stakes winners, and despite the compact size of the field, I still view it as a decent betting race with multiple options in the affair.

I will key the recent Santa Margarita S. (G2) queen #3 Blue Stripe (5-2) for the top prize on this occasion. Trained by Marcelo Polanco, the five-year-old bay made her U. S. debut at Del Mar in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1), where she finished seventh after tracking a rapid early pace, prior to fading in the stretch in the especially deep contest.

Blue Stripe came off the long absence to run especially well last time out, running down a clear one in the lane to win in impressive fashion under today’s pilot Tyler Baze. The bay mare, who was a Group 2 heroine in her native Argentina, is lightly raced with a lot of room to move forward after performing on just eight occasions to this stage of her development.

The South American import figures to sit a perfect trip on Saturday, as well, stalking behind a swift pace into the turn for home. If the lass improves in her second performance off the shelf, which seems likely to me, then I expect her to roll home late en route to securing a second straight graded stakes affair.

I have to side with the Sean McCarthy-trained #4 Private Mission (9-5) to complete the exacta in this spot. By top sire Into Mischief, the well-bred four-year-old was very good as a sophomore while winning a pair of graded stakes tilts, including one on this oval, and I expect her to get back to her best form in this endeavor.

The Kentucky-bred led to the turn for home before throwing the towel in when trying the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) in the fall, and I give her a pass for trying sprint races in two straight against some speedy foes. She seems like a better option around two turns to me. The filly smoked a bullet five furlongs in advance of Saturday, and the bay will receive a clear voyage forcing the tempo in the second spot from the opening bell. She should hang on for the place spot late under Juan Hernandez.

Santa Maria Exacta Play

  • $40 exacta: 3 with 4 ($40)