Santa Anita turf stakes plays for April 9

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

April 8th, 2022

A massive card, led by the Santa Anita Derby (G1), will be hosted by The Great Race Place on Saturday. Among the bevy of black-type action is a trio of graded stakes races for the ladies to be contested on the turf.

Race 1 – Monrovia S. (G2)

The about 6 1/2-furlong dash going down the hill attracted six fillies and mares in a well-matched field. Brian Lynch’s #2 Tobys Heart (5-2) lacks the familiarity of the unique course, but I still feel that she is the class of the cast. The Jack Milton four-year-old is a three-time stakes winner when sprinting on the lawn, and she is 4-for-4 in races going less than seven furlongs, overall. The filly has trained well in advance of her seasonal debut, and she has enough versatility in her running style to ace her initial Santa Anita exam.

Race 5 – Providencia S. (G3)

A total of six sophomore fillies will travel nine grassy panels in this affair. Conditioner Phil D’Amato has endured success on multiple occasions with European imports, and I will give top billing to Irish invader #6 Sixteen Arches (3-1) in the heat. By Mehmas, the chestnut three-year-old was game in victory on the All-Weather at Dundalk on debut, and she should be acclimated to her surroundings following a six-pack of morning drills at the venue. The intriguing filly will have clear sailing throughout from the outside post slot under Juan Hernandez.

Race 7 – Royal Heroine S. (G2)

D’Amato has a pair of major players in the small cast, and I will take a shot with the impressive #2 Excelerina (5-2) and jockey Mike Smith. The Irish-bred daughter of Excelebration has been sterling from a pair of dominant wins since arriving in the states, led by a 2 1/4-length tally in the allowance ranks most recently. The chestnut might have to be a bit closer early on in a field with little early pace signed on, but she gives me the impression of a lass who can adapt to the situation from the two post. The four-year-old will be difficult to hold off late with her best on Saturday.