Value play for the California Distaff Handicap

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

October 15th, 2021

A competitive field of six fillies and mares will go 6 1/2 furlongs down the hill in Saturday’s $100,000 California Distaff H. at Santa Anita. The race for California-bred runners attracted some contenders of quality, as well as a favorite that I believe is vulnerable in this spot.

Simon Callaghan’s #5 Bella Vita (5-2) is not the biggest number of all time, but she is the clear one to beat for me, and I believe that the lass offers good value if she remains the second choice at post time. By Bayern, the four-year-old filly has never missed the board from four career tries on the green at Santa Anita, which includes a stakes second while sprinting on the course in March.

The Grade 2-placed bay has run on the dirt in five straight races since her latest offering on the green, but I think that she will relish the surface change coming off the short layoff on this occasion. Bella Vita has speed in a field lacking pace, and she could be comfortable on top, or pressing the pace from second, from the outset with a clean break from the gate under Victor Espinoza. She is one of my top plays on the entire card.

It will be difficult to keep #1 Warren’s Showtime (9-5) off the board due to her consistency and class. The multiple Grade 3 victress has finished in the money in 19 of 21 lifetime appearances, including all of her 11 local outings, and she is a must-use for the exotics. I do feel, however, that the late runner could be compromised by the expected slow pace on the cutback in distance on Saturday.

#6 Sedamar (9-2) will close out my straight trifecta for conditioner Shelbe Ruis. The five-year-old daughter of Richard’s Kid was a smart runner-up in the Megahertz S. (G3) on the surface in the winter, and anything resembling that performance will make her a prime top-three player on the cutback from a mile. She is training well of late and will stalk the early tempo under Joe Bravo.

California Distaff Value Wager

  • $40 trifecta 5 with 1 with 6 ($40)