In what could be the most competitive Grade 1 event of the day at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif., Saturday's $300,000 Rodeo Drive Stakes has attracted eight fillies and mares three and up and is headed by Jerry Hollendorfer's streaking Vasilika and Tom Proctor's classy Cambodia.
The Rodeo Drive is a “Win and You're In” Breeders' Cup Challenge Series race for the Filly & Mare Turf division. The winner is guaranteed a starting berth in the Nov. 3 race at Churchill Downs with all pre-entry and entries fees paid.
Fresh off a 1 ½-length tally over Cambodia in the Grade II John C. Mabee Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on turf Sept. 1, the amazing Vasilika, who was claimed for $40,000 eight starts back, is in search of her seventh consecutive victory.
A four-time graded stakes winner, Cambodia, like Vasilika, will be seeking her first Grade I win in the Rodeo Drive in what will be her first-ever start at Santa Anita.
The two leading contenders are:
VASILIKA – Owner: All Schlaich Stables, LLC and Hollendorfer; Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer.
A maiden $25,000 claiming winner in her eighth career start on Jan. 26, 2017, Vasilika has ascended the class ladder in dramatic fashion for Hollendorfer. Off at 4-1 in a field of 11 in the Grade II Mabee Stakes, she rallied boldly from off the pace to notch her first-ever graded stakes win. With Flavien Prat set to ride her back, her connections will be out to prove the win was no fluke in what will be only her second graded stakes assignment. With five wins and a second from six tries over the Santa Anita turf and Prat a perfect six for six with her, Vasilika, a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred filly by Skipshot, appears to be at the top of her game.
CAMBODIA – Owner: Winter Quarter Farm; Trainer: Tom Proctor.
An impressive 2 ½ length winner of Del Mar's Grade II Yellow Ribbon Stakes two starts back on Aug. 4, Cambodia was dispatched as the 4-5 favorite in Grade II John C. Mabee Stakes Sept. 1 and was perhaps unlucky to lose under regular pilot Drayden Van Dyke. Far back early, she had to wait for room turning for home and unleashed a furious rally but ended up second, 1 ½ lengths behind Vasilika at the wire. Classy and consistent, Cambodia will no doubt vie seriously for top billing on Saturday. A 6-year-old War Front mare, out of the Smart Strike mare Sassifaction, Cambodia has an overall mark of 19-7-1-6, with earnings of $819,913.
THE GRADE I RODEO DRIVE STAKES WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER
Race 10 of 12 Approximate post time 4:30 p.m. PT
Beau Recall—Joe Talamo—123
Queen Blossom—Florent Geroux—121
Sophie P—Kent Desoremeaux—125
Cambodia—Drayden Van Dyke—123
Special early first post time for a 12-race card on Saturday is at 12 noon. Admission gates will open at 10 a.m. and parking lots open to the public at 9:30 a.m. For additional information, please visit www.santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.
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