This Saturday see’s two top quality races taking place at Santa Anita with the 2023 Las Virgenes Stakes and San Pasqual.
The San Pasqual Stakes looks set to be one of the most intriguing races of the card with eight of the nine declared runners having run poorly last time out. Las Virgenes Stakes will see only six head down to post but the betting for the race looking incredibly competitive. Ahead of what is bound to be an exciting day of racing here is everything you need to know.
San Pasqual Stakes
Grade 2, 1 mile and 1/8, Dirt, open to horses aged four and over. Total prize pool: $300,000
Nine horses are due down to post for this year’s San Pasqual Stakes with the majority of the field looking to bounce back from disappointing efforts last time out.
Perhaps the horse with the most to prove is Newgrange who is trained out of the legendary Phil D’Amato yard. Twice a winner at Graded Stakes level, Newgrange ran poorly when only finishing 3rd in the Grade 3 Native Diver Stakes. As the top money earner in the field his connections will be hoping that last run was just a blip.
Perfect Flight out of the Peter Miller yard has been dropped back into calmer waters following his ninth place finish in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes. Perfect Flight did show how much promise he potentially has when a winner of the Zia Park Derby and his connections will hope he can bring that form into this race.
The one horse to emerge with credit from his last start is the Bob Baffert trained Hopper. A Bob Baffert trained horse at Santa Anita always has to be treated with respect and Hopper will be a popular play here. Hopper was a convincing winner of the Affirmed Stakes. This will be just his fourth start and Baffert will hope a similar level of performance can be reached.
Baffert has another potential winner in the shape of Messier. A former winner of the Grade 3 Robert Lewis last year he has been winless in his last four starts and arrives out of form, but if the race can fall his way he has proved he has the class to win a race of this nature.
The horse with the best form in the race is Tripoli who won the prestigious Grade 1 Pacific Classic back in 2021. He hasn’t been able to match the heights of that victory and is now winless in his last seven starts. Whilst a win looks unlikely, he could be a player at a larger price.
San Pasqual Stakes Odds & Betting Pick
|Horse||Jockey||Odds by JazzSports|
|Hopper||Edwin A. Maldonado||+250|
|Perfect Flight||Joe Bravo||+1000|
|American Admiral||Ramon A. Vazquez||+1200|
|Newgrange||Juan J. Hernandez||+300|
|Go On||Mario Gutierrez||+2000|
|Breakfast Ride||Luis Contreras||+800|
|Messier||Kent J. Desormeaux||+600|
Despite the puzzling form of most of the horses in the field, this is still a race absolutely loaded with quality. Hopper is a fascinating runner and could have the potential to be a future star but Newgrange could be the one to back. His trainer put his last run down to bad luck and if this race is cleaner he is bound to have a great chance.
Las Virgenes Stakes
Grade 3, 1 mile, Dirt, open to three year old fillies. Total prize pool: $200,000
A field of six look set to compete in the 2023 Las Virgenes Stakes and the betting looks fascinatingly poised.
Likely favourite for the race is Faiza who represents the Bob Baffert stable. She was a winner last time out in the Grade 1 Starlet Stakes beating the reopposing Pride Of The Nile by just a short head. That race was nothing short of a thriller with Faiza showing plenty of heart to cross the line in first place.
Most pundits believe that Pride Of The Nile would have won the Starlet had she not stumbled at the start. She showed plenty of cruising speed to work her way back into contention but just ran out of speed when trying to overcome Fazia at the end of the race. If she can get away cleanly she must have a great chance of overturning the tables.
John Shirreffs has a stunning record in our earlier race the San Pasquel but has never been able to field a winner in this race. Here he has a great chance of writing that record right with Justique. Justique is highly regarded and heads into this race off the back of a convincing win in the Listed Desi Arnaz Stakes. Only once has she raced in Graded company and that was in the Grade 2 Chandelier Stakes where she finished third. An improved horse now, she could be a danger to all.
The value play of the race could be Uncontrollable who is trained by Michael McCarthy. Uncontrollable finished third in the Starlet Stakes six lengths off the pace that Fazia and Pride Of The Nile set. Whilst it may be tough for her to overcome that form she has shown that she belongs in this class and could run a big race.
A viable outsider for the race could be Broadway Girls who is a stablemate of Pride Of The Nile. Broadway Girls has had four career starts and has won both of her two previous races. Her last victory came in the Blue Norther Stakes where she ran a big race at a big price. Whilst a win in this company looks a tough ask, she arrives at Santa Anita full of confidence.
Sweet Trouble is the clear outsider of the field and is yet to win a race in her two career starts. Clearly pitched into this race on signs of promise it would be a shock if she were to emerge victorious.
2023 Las Virgenes Stakes Odds & Betting Prediction
|Horse||Jockey||Odds by JazzSports|
|Faiza||Ramon A. Vazquez||+160|
|Sweet Trouble||Kent J. Desormeaux||+1200|
|Broadway Girls||Edwin A. Maldonado||+800|
|Pride of the Nile||Juan J. Hernandez||+300|
This looks like a fascinating renewal with the majority of the field having a chance of victory. When taking another look at the Starlet, Pride Of The Nile should have won that race and will be desperate to overturn the form with Faiza. With a cleaner start she should be more than capable
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