2023 San Pasqual Stakes & Las Virgenes Review

Saturday saw a fantastic day of racing across America and that was certainly the case at Santa Anita. The famous Californian track hosted two tremendous races, the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes and Grade 3 Las Virgenes Stakes.

Both races served up some fantastic action and it was the multiple Graded Stakes winner Newgrange who bounced back from a poor run last time out to capture the spoils in the San Pasqual.

Faiza won yet another classic showdown with rival Pride Of The Nile to hold on and win this year’s renewal of the Las Virgenes Stakes. 

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 headed down to post for this year’s San Pasqual Stakes which was won by Newgrange. 

This year’s renewal was packed with intrigue due to the fact that eight of the nine runners had suffered disappointing defeats on their last runs. The only horse in the field who had won last time out was the Bob Baffert trained Hopper, and it was he who took up much of the early running. 

Setting a fast and furious pace Hopper led the field as they rounded the home turn. 

Up there keeping Hopper company was the long shot of the race Parnelli, and the two looked set to battle it out down the home straight.

With both Hopper and Parnelli matching each other stride for stride, the game and tenacious Newgrange sensed an opportunity and duly closed the gap on the leading two. 

With both front runners tiring, Newgrange was able to sweep alongside and with the post looming, was able to get by. 

It was a welcome return to the winners circle for the Phil D’Amato trained runner who had run poorly in the Native Diver Stakes just  a few months ago. This win was his first at this level and it will be interesting to see where D’Amato pitches him next. 

In the battle for second, Hopper held on with Parnelli rounding out the top three.

2023 San Pasqual Stakes Results

  1. Newgrange +420
  2. Hopper +140
  3. Parnelli +968

Las Virgenes Stakes

Grade 3, 1 mile, Dirt, open to three year old fillies. Total prize pool: $200,000

This year’s Las Virgenes Stakes was widely expected to be a rematch of the Starlet Stakes where the Bob Baffert trained Faiza just edged out the Leandro Mora trained Pride Of The Nile by a short head. The result of the Starlet was made even more intriguing due to the fact that many believed that Pride Of The Nile would have won the race had she not stumbled at the start.

With just six runners in the field for this year’s renewal, it was widely expected that the race would turn into a shootout between the two favourites and that’s exactly what transpired. 

Pride Of The Nile was always willing to sit off the pace and it was Faiza who was handed the early initiative. Up with the front runners throughout, Fazia turned for home in second place, tucked in just behind the early front runner Uncontrollable.

With Uncontrollable dropping away, it looked like the race was Faiza’s to lose. On she stretched but Pride Of The Nile was determined to make a race of it.

As the runners hit the final furlong, Pride Of The Nile had clawed the lead back to just a length and briefly threatened to draw alongside. But similarly to what she did in the Starlet, Faiza showed what a tough horse she is and wouldn’t be for passing. 

With the post approaching, she dug as deep as she could and held off the challenge of Pride Of The Nile once again. If the race had been 100 yards longer the result could have gone the other way. Racing fans up and down America will be hoping these two wonderful fillies lock horns once again. 

2023 Las Virgenes Stakes Results

  1. Faiza -200
  2. Pride Of The Nile +123
  3. Uncontrollable +400

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