2022 Zenyatta Stakes Odds & More Races from Santa Anita

The feature event at Santa Anita on Sunday is the G2 2022 Zenyatta Stakes, which could provide the improving Midnight Memories with her next foothold on the ladder to the top, although she faces tough opposition in the shape of Soothsay. On the undercard, two horses successful here last year aim to go back-to-back, with Ce Ce heavily favoured for a repeat in the G3 Chillingworth and Tizamagician the market leader for his double bid in the G3 Tokyo City Cup.

Zenyatta Stakes

Grade 2, $200,000, 1m 1/16, 3yo+ fillies/mares

There’s no-one of the class of the great Zenyatta in the race that commemorates the only female Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, the main event at Santa Anita on Sunday, but despite the short field there’s a fascinating contest in store.

Bob Baffert and Richard Mandella have both won this race a joint-record four times, so there’s bragging rights at stake as the two top-rank trainers have the two main contenders. Baffert won it last year with Private Mission and bids to go back-to-back with Midnight Memories, who only made her debut at the end of April but has made big strides in a short time.

Two sprint wins here were followed by defeat at Del Mar, but there was something wrong that day as she played up in the paddock and may have resented the first-time blinkers. The headgear came off next time and she stepped right up, going coast-to-coast in the G3 Torrey Pines at the oceanside circuit on her first start at a mile, turning back G1-placed Desert Dawn to win by three-quarters of a length.

Midnight Memories likes it here, doesn’t have the blinkers on, and brings high-class recent form to the table unlike main rival Soothsay, from the Mandella barn, who was a force to be reckoned with last year when winning the G2 Santa Anita Oaks over course and distance.

However, she missed the last half of the campaign and only returned to action in August, showing no sparkle off a 13-month layoff when fourth in the G1 Clement L Hirsch over a mile-sixteenth at Del Mar, beaten 19 lengths (Desert Dawn was runner-up). Soothsay will obviously be sharper for the comeback and this is a much easier task, but she certainly has something to prove today.

This is a step back up in grade for Awake At Midnyte , who snapped a progressively disappointing five-race losing streak in Graded stakes when winning an allowance optional claimer at Del Mar, clearing away for an easy victory over six and a half furlongs. Stretching out again shouldn’t be a problem but there are class concerns.

That’s also an issue for Samurai Lake, an outclassed sixth in last year’s Zenyatta and zero-for-three in 2022, although her performance last time when runner-up in a Del Mar stakes at a mile, beaten just a head, indicates that she’s on the way back. She was on the lead there and could contest the pace with Midnight Memories.

The longshot Empire House was beaten eight lengths when runner-up in a mile stakes at Los Alamitos two weeks ago, and the swift return and class hike aren’t encouraging.

Empire HouseDrayden Van Dyke+1500
Midnight MemoriesRamon A. Vazquez+160
SoothsayMike E. Smith+200
Awake At MidnyteMario Gutierrez+500
Samurai CharmJuan J. Hernandez+200

2022 Zenyatta Stakes Betting Pick

Her rivals all have something to prove, so the progressive front-runner MIDNIGHT MEMORIES is the clear choice to maintain her fine form.

Chillingworth Stakes

Grade 3, $100,000, 6 1/2f, 3yo+ fillies/mares

Racehorse trainers are creatures of habit, preparing their top horses in the same way, going for the same races year after year. Michael McCarthy is following the system, as we see in his choice of the Chillingworth for his star mare Ce Ce.

In 2021, Ce Ce won the G2 Princess Rooney at Gulfstream Park, was beaten in the G1 Ballerina at Saratoga, rebounded to win the Chillingworth – by an easy five lengths – and went on to take the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Del Mar.

This year . . . well, deja vu. Ce Ce won the G2 Princess Rooney by six and a half lengths, was well beaten when fifth in the Ballerina, never showing at all, and here she is on the rebound again down in class in the Chillingworth, which will set her up nicely for the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland.

Can she go back-to-back? The morning-line says ‘of course’, and it seems highly likely. She has a clear class edge, has a good five-for-nine record here, and even though she has to pick up the pieces from that career-worst at the Spa there isn’t a whole lot standing in her way today. Her best – even a near-best – will be enough.

The wise bettor will look for the exacta and Under The Stars, from the Bob Baffert barn that has won this race a record three times (although not since 2010), is at the front of the queue. Forgive her fifth place in the G3 Torrey Pines latest, when she dropped the ball at the start and could never get back into it, and her body of work is impressive.

Prior to that she was always in the vanguard before driving clear to win the G2 Summertime Oaks here over a mile-sixteenth, and those with distance concerns can ease them by looking at her victory in the G2 Santa Ynez here over seven furlongs in January, when she toughed it out for a narrow score.

This is shorter still, but Teddy’s Barino is in a similar position. She drops back after three wins at a mile, one here in an allowance optional claimer and two at Del Mar, where she dug in hard to get the job done and make her stakes breakthrough. She has won here over six, but takes on much stronger opposition today.

The remainder of the field are bit-part players. Scenic Masterpiece has lost three allowances since winning her maiden here on turf; Cover Version was beaten eight lengths into third in the G3 Rancho Bernardo at Del Mar and ran a stinker in a stakes at Los Alamitos two weeks ago; My Destiny has never won a stakes and comes back off a week’s rest after winning a starter allowance at Los Alamitos. They’ll find it tough.

Teddy’s BarinoMike E. Smith+250
Under the StarsJuan J. Hernandez+250
Ce CeVictor Espinoza-167
Cover VersionRamon A. Vazquez+3000
Scenic MasterpieceDrayden Van Dyke+2000
My DestinyHector Isaac Berrios+3000

Chillingworth Betting Prediction

It’s impossible to oppose last year’s winner CE CE despite a poor performance last time. Under The Stars looks the one for the exacta.

Tokyo City Cup Stakes

Grade 3, $100,000, 1m 4f, 3yo+

The extended distance of the Tokyo City Cup may prove a bridge too far for some of these, but that certainly won’t be the case for Tizamagician, who blew the doors off a short field in this race 12 months ago when cruising to a nine-length win.

That particular piece of form isn’t worth much apart from the stamina angle, but Tizamagician kept up the good work, winning the G3 Cougar II and running second in the G1 Pacific Classic, both at Del Mar, last summer. He’s had a much lighter campaign this year and should be ready to rumble on his third start of 2022, coming off a fair effort in the G2 Del Mar Handicap over a mile and three-eighths on turf when he led to past halfway before being brushed aside by three late-closers.

He finished two and three-quarter lengths ahead of eighth-placed Heywoods Beach, and there’s a little history between these two. Heywoods Beach put away Tizamagician and beat him a length when they filled the exacta in the G3 Cougar II in July over a mile and a half, although that was the runner-up’s first start off an eight-month break and a little rustiness was to be expected. Tizamagician’s barnmate Extra Hope was a neck back in third.

Consistency is the problem for Heywoods Beach, although he’ll be happier back on the main track, and while Extra Hope couldn’t be expected to cope with Flightline in the G1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar last time, he is just one-for-11 at Graded level and that win was in November 2020. He’s lost eight straight since then.

A more interesting contender is the three-year-old Newgrange, winner of the G3 Sham and the G3 Southwest in January. Since then he has moved to Phil D’Amato’s barn, and looked in need of a change when a dull third in a mile stakes at Del Mar a month ago, showing no zip and beaten more than ten lengths. This extra half-mile is a real ‘Hail Mary’.

Fellow sophomore Win The Day has only won a maiden and was left for dead in the G1 Santa Anita Derby on his only start at Graded level, but was beaten only a nose over a mile and three-eighths in an allowance optional claimer at Del Mar last time, although that was on turf.

Avenue switches to the main track after a career on turf, and his stamina is assured after his third spot in the G3 San Juan Capistrano here over a mile and three-quarters in July. The different surface is a concern, while Storm The Court hasn’t won since taking the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in 2019, and has missed the board on his last six starts.

TizamagicianMike E. Smith+250
NewgrangeRicardo Gonzalez+800
Heywoods BeachRamon A. Vazquez+300
Extra HopeTyler Baze+500
Win the DayUmberto Rispoli+1000
AvenueJuan J. Hernandez+400
Storm the CourtEdwin A. Maldonado+600
Govenor’s PartyKyle Frey+2000

Tokyo City Cup Betting Pick

Unless Newgrange is transformed by stretching out, this is best left to last year’s winner TIZAMAGICIAN, who should be spot-on after two starts in 2022.

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