A pair of tremendously talented 3-year-old fillies, owner Kaleem Shah's Bellafina and Summer Wind Equine's Chasing Yesterday, will face each other for the first time as they head a field of five sophomore fillies in Saturday's Grade I, $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks.
Fresh of a gutty three-quarter-length win in the Grade II, one mile Las Virgenes Stakes over a “good” main track on Feb. 9, Bellafina seeks her third Grade I victory in the Oaks for trainer Simon Callaghan.
Chasing Yesterday, a half-sister to 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, comes off a facile 1 ¼-length win as the heavy favorite in the ungraded Sunland Park Oaks at 1 1/16 miles on March 24 and appears on the ascent as she seeks her fifth consecutive win for Bob Baffert.
To be run for the 80th time on Saturday, the Santa Anita Oaks provides a total of 170 Kentucky Oaks qualifying points, with 100 to the winner, 40 to second, 20 to third and 10 points to the fourth place finisher.
Owner: Kaleem Shah, Inc
Trainer: Simon Callaghan
A winner of five out of her seven starts, Bellafina's only poor performance came as the 9-5 favorite in the Grade I Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies three starts back at Churchill Downs on Nov. 2. Fourth, beaten 9 ¼ lengths, Callaghan ascribed the miscue to the fact his filly was in reproductive heat at the time. Dispatched as the 2-5 favorite in her next start, the Grade II, seven furlong Santa Ynez Stakes on Jan. 6, Bellafina was all business, winning by 8 ½ lengths. The leading money earner in the field with $828,000, she has two Grade I wins to go with four grade scores and an overall mark of 7-5-1-0.
Owner: Summer Wind Equine
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Although she was a winner of the Grade I Starlet Stakes two starts back on Dec. 8 at Los Alamitos, this chestnut filly by Tapit unquestionably faces her toughest test to date when facing Bellafina on Saturday. In a surprise to some, Drayden Van Dyke, who has been aboard for all four of her wins, will be replaced on Saturday by Mike Smith, who guided Chasing Yesterday to a first out maiden score six starts back on July 28 at Del Mar. With earnings of $440,650, she has five wins from six starts.
GRADE I SANTA ANITA OAKS WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER
Race 3 of 11 Approximate post time 1 p.m. PT
- Flor de La Mar—Joel Rosario—121
- Chasing Yesterday—Mike Smith—124
- Stirred—Drayden Van Dyke—121
- Slewgoodtobetrue—Geovanni Franco—121
- Bellafina—Flavien Prat—124
Special early first post time for an 11-race card on Saturday is at 12 noon. Admission gates will open at 10 a.m. For additional information, please visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.
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