Santa Anita’s meet begins with a bang on Saturday. Aside from the show-stopping Malibu (G1) and its companion La Brea (G1), four other stakes are on tap including the $300,000 American Oaks (G1). Here’s an appetizer for the undercard feast.
American Oaks – Race 9 (6 p.m. ET)
Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) heroine Sharing spearheads the East Coast invasion for the American Oaks. Although the Graham Motion pupil exits the first unplaced effort of her life, her close fourth in the Nov. 29 Matriarch (G1) was a respectable performance versus older distaffers. The way she boxed on implies that a stretch-out to this 1 1/4-mile trip could be in her compass. Note that Sharing gets a rider switch to John Velazquez.
Chad Brown has mobilized two fillies, both campaigned by Klaravich Stables. Capital Structure brings a 2-for-3 mark into her stakes debut and picks up Joel Rosario. Duopoly has compiled a 3-for-5 record, most recently wiring the Nov. 16 Winter Memories at Aqueduct. Her fifth as the favorite in the Valley View (G3) two back could be chalked up to a stiff pace scenario, which is no concern here for Flavien Prat.
The Arnaud Delacour-trained Luck Money captured the 1 1/2-mile Zagora at Belmont Oct. 31, defeating the elder Mutamakina who came back to take the Long Island (G3). Luck Money also sports a nifty formline among her contemporaries, through her third in the Dueling Ground Oaks.
Neige Blanche is now locally based with Leonard Powell, but her benchmark efforts have come elsewhere. Successful in the Prix Cleopatre (G3) in her French finale, she was third in the Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1) when last seen Sept. 19. Powell has a second shot with the more exposed Guitty, whose best stakes result was a second in the San Clemente (G2) over the summer.
Del Mar Oaks (G1) upsetter Red Lark was a solid fourth in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) last out. Her Paddy Gallagher stablemate Miss Addie Pray faces a class question, but broke her maiden at this track and trip and keeps Mike Smith.
Going to Vegas herself has experience at a longer distance, recently nabbed in the 1 3/8-mile Red Carpet (G3) by Brown’s 4-year-old Orglandes. California Kook, a subpar seventh in the Red Carpet, is perhaps better gauged by her runner-up effort in the Del Mar Oaks.
San Antonio – Race 7 (5 p.m. ET)
Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) romper Mucho Gusto, unraced since a fourth in the Feb. 29 Saudi Cup, begins his road back to Riyadh in the $200,000 San Antonio Stakes (G2). The Bob Baffert colt reappears with a new rider in Velazquez.
Extra Hope enters in the form of his life for Richard Mandella, having just dethroned Midcourt in the Nov. 21 Native Diver (G3). Turf veteran Sharp Samurai has made hay in recent dirt forays. Best of the rest behind Maximum Security in the Pacific Classic (G1), he was third despite trouble in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1).
Highly regarded Idol makes his stakes debut after convincing maiden and allowance scores at Churchill Downs. Combatant has gone winless since his 9-1 surprise in the Santa Anita H. (G1), but his recent third in the Native Diver could bring him on. Kiss Today Goodbye, longshot third to Thousand Words and Honor A. P. in the Shared Belief, comes off an allowance score at Del Mar. Multiple Cal-restricted stakes winner Take the One O One figures to add to the pace scenario from the rail.
Mathis Brothers Mile – Race 4 (3:30 p.m. ET)
The leading local turf sophomore, Smooth Like Strait bids to end the year on a high note in the $200,000 Mathis Brothers Mile (G2). The Michael McCarthy trainee captured his fourth career stakes in the Oct. 18 Twilight Derby (G2) here, and beat all bar Brown’s Domestic Spending in the Nov. 28 Hollywood Derby (G1) last out. Mike Maker’s Field Pass, the lone shipper this time, was third in the Twilight Derby two back but rebounded in the Nov. 21 Ontario Derby (G3) on Woodbine’s Tapeta. Hollywood Derby also-rans Scarto (sixth), Storm the Court (seventh), and Strongconstitution (11th) try again. Heywoods Beach missed narrowly to Strongconstitution in the Nov. 1 Let It Ride, and British import Whisper Not was a sharp second in his U.S. premiere.
Lady of Shamrock Stakes – Race 11 (7 p.m. ET)
The $75,000 Lady of Shamrock, the corresponding mile stakes for 3-year-old fillies, serves as the nightcap. California-bred celebrity Warren’s Showtime returns to the course and distance of four of her stakes wins, including the Autumn Miss (G3) over Nasty. Prix de Sandringham (G2) heroine Miss Extra, ninth in her American bow in the Del Mar Oaks, adds Lasix. The Brown/Klaravich team sends Counterparty Risk straight from her Aqueduct maiden score, while recent allowance winners On Mars, Annangel, and Beguiled (who just held from the solid Applecross) are also among the 10-strong field.