Two star names meet again in the G3 Santa Barbara at Santa Anita on Saturday, the highlight of the afternoon at the Los Angeles track, when last year’s winner Neige Blanche renews rivalry with the improving Queen Goddess, who took her measure in the Santa Ana here over a quarter-mile shorter in March.
Santa Barbara Stakes
Grade 3, $125,000, 1m 4f turf, 3yo+ fillies/mares
Route races for distaffers often produce short fields and the Santa Barbara, the main event at Santa Anita on Saturday, is no exception, but it’s a competitive contest all the same with two leading contenders, including last year’s winner, going head to head for a second time.
The morning-line favourite Queen Goddess is nursing an unbeaten record at Santa Anita, having gone gate-to-wire in the ten-furlong G1 American Oaks in December – the race switched to the main track, off the turf – and last time out showing tactical versatility to press the pace in the G3 Santa Ana before keeping on strongly down the lane for a decisive success.
She stretches out another quarter-mile today and the pace will be important to her prospects, but the way she finished off the Santa Ana suggests the extra yardage is within her grasp.
Back in third that day was Neige Blanche, who found a lot of crosstown traffic before finishing her race off best of all – as you’d expect from a mare who can go longer – and missing the ‘place’ spot by just a nose. Twelve months ago, in the Santa Barbara, she made her stamina the race-winning factor when rallying hard and late to get the decision by a nose, and her proven staying power could give her an edge if it comes to a duel in deep stretch.
These two spot the field 4lb but are still some way ahead of their rivals, best of whom could be the relatively unknown quantity Queen Ofthe Temple, who finally got the job done in her fifth maiden when an impressive winner over a mile-eighth here last month. This is a big step up but she has plenty of scope for improvement.
Santa Ana sixth Carpe Vinum has seven and a half lengths to make up on Queen Goddess and has never finished better than fifth in her three attempts in Graded company. She has a good shot at improving that record but is riding a nine-race losing streak and her limitations have been well exposed.
Stakes debutante New Heat has won three times and all have been at this circuit, but she’s winless in four this year and the longer distance is a concern, while Cover Version has finished last on her two previous starts in Graded company, latterly in the G2 Monrovia here over six and a half furlongs, and looks out of her depth again especially over this wildly different distance.
|Horse||Jockey||Horse Racing Odds by JazzSports|
|Queen Goddess||Victor Espinoza||+120|
|New Heat||Tyler Baze||+1200|
|Queen Ofthe Temple||Drayden Van Dyke||+600|
|Neige Blanche (FR)||Juan J. Hernandez||+180|
|Cover Version||Ramon A. Vazquez||+2000|
|Carpe Vinum||Abel Cedillo||+350|
Santa Barbara Stakes Betting Prediction
The proven stamina of NEIGE BLANCHE may give her the edge in what appears to be a two-horse affair, and she is the choice to record back-to-back victories in the Santa Barbara
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