Win the War Tries Dirt in Santa Ynez Stakes

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

January 5th, 2018

Although most of the upcoming weekend racing action is focused on Saturday, racing fans won’t want to miss Sunday’s $200,000 Santa Ynez Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita.

In addition to being a good betting race, the seven-furlong sprint is an official prep race for the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) and has drawn a very promising field of three-year-old fillies.

The most recognizable name in the race is probably #8 Midnight Bisou, who might also be among the most talented maidens in the country. The daughter of Midnight Lute finished second by a nose in each of her first two starts, including the seven-furlong Desi Arnaz Stakes at Del Mar. Notably, Midnight Bisou was beaten in both races by Dream Tree, who came right back to win the Starlet Stakes (gr. I).

Midnight Bisou possesses a sharp late rally and is conditioned by Bill Spawr, who wins at a high percentage in graded stakes races. The Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith picks up the mount for the first time, and Midnight Bisou is a logical choice to win from off the pace.

The speedy #5 War Heroine, who broke her maiden by an easy 6 ¾ lengths sprinting 6 ½ furlongs at Del Mar, looks like the main threat on the front end. She set a solid pace in her debut and won in effortless fashion, though she’ll likely face more pace pressure on Sunday while making her first start against winners. However, she's drawn outside of her main pace rivals, giving her the option to settle just off the lead if necessary.

However, the filly that intrigues me most is #7 Win the War, who will make her debut on dirt following a pair of victories on turf and Tapeta at Woodbine. Trained by Mark Casse, the daughter of War Front absolutely crushed five rivals in the seven-furlong Glorious Song Stakes on November 19th, rallying from behind a quick pace to draw off and win by a stunning 11 ¼ lengths while stopping the clock in rapid 1:21.52 seconds. Granted, there are questions about her ability to handle dirt, but the level of talent Win the War displayed in the Glorious Song suggests that she could be a star in the making. I’m willing to take a chance with her in her dirt debut, especially since she’s unlikely to be favored.

My strategy will be to key Win the War in the exacta with War Heroine and Midnight Bisou while boxing all three in a small trifecta:

$5 exacta: 7 with 5,8 ($10) $5 exacta: 5,8 with 7 ($10) $1 trifecta: 5,7,8 with 5,7,8 with 5,7,8 ($6)

Good luck!