Turf Stakes Plays for Santa Anita on December 26
The American Oaks (G1), Mathis Brothers Mile (G2) and Lady Shamrock Stakes will bring turf stakes racing action back to Santa Anita on Dec. 26.
American Oaks (G1)
The 10-furlong test for 3-year-old fillies attracted a very good cast, led by champion #9 Sharing. Trained by Graham Motion, the Speightstown chestnut was defeated by less than a length when facing her elders in the Matriarch (G1) most recently, and improvement on Saturday could easily lead her to the winner's circle. The genuine filly inherits John Velazquez to ride.
#1 Red Lark is the exacta play underneath the top pick. The consistent bay packs a strong late punch, and she figures to thrive with the added ground from the rail on Saturday. Drayden Van Dyke will be in the stirrups.
Mathis Brothers Mile (G2)
A field of seven sophomores will go postward in the 8-furlong event. #5 Smooth Like Strait will be popular at the windows, and the race seems to be tailor-made for the Grade 2 star. McCarthy pupil was a fine winner of the Twilight Derby (G2) in his previous local appearance, and he has pace in a field lacking that trait, as well.
I will play the favorite on top of #2 Strongconstitution in an exacta. Dark bay colt is 2-for-4 on the green, and he has the tactical speed to keep touch in the early stages from an advantageous post slot. Kentucky-bred shows two strong morning drills in advance of this test, as well.
Lady Shamrock S.
A 1-mile affair for 3-year-old fillies attracted a solid field of 10. I love the aggressive move from conditioner Chad Brown to ship in #8 Counterparty Risk off of just a maiden win. Expensive Australia filly overcame a wide voyage from a tough post at Aqueduct en route to victory last time out, and her last pair of turf workouts have been sharp, too. Rosario taking the reins adds to her appeal.