Sharp local stakes winners Taris and Tara's Tango take on eastern invader Penwith as a competitive field of seven older fillies and mares will contest the 79th running of the Grade I, $500,000 Santa Margarita Stakes at 1 1/8 miles this Saturday at Santa Anita.
First run in 1935, the prestigious Santa Margarita has been won by some of America's greatest distaffers, including: Busher (1945); Two Lea (1950); Bug Brush (1959); Silver Spoon (1960); Gamely (1968); Princessnesian (1969); Turkish Trousers (1972); Tizna (1974 & 75); Taisez Vous (1978); Glorious Song (1980); Lady's Secret (1986); Bayakoa (1989 & 90); Paseana (1992 & 94); Azeri (2002), and Zenyatta (2010).
TARIS: Trained by Simon Callaghan, this 5-year-old mare by Flatter followed up on her 2 ½ length score in the Grade III, one mile Go For Wand Handicap Nov. 27 at Aqueduct with a rousing 5 ¼ length win here in the Grade II, 1 1/16 miles La Canada Stakes Jan. 16. A multiple graded stakes winner sprinting, Taris has an abundance of tactical speed and appears to be at the peak of her powers. Owned by Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and John Magnier, Taris will be ridden back by Gary Stevens, who has guided her to a pair of stakes wins from five engagements that include a close third in the Grade I, seven furlong Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint three starts back on Oct. 31. She has seven wins from 11 starts and earnings of $807,700.
TARA'S TANGO: Owned and bred in Kentucky by Stonestreet Stables, LLC, this 4-year-old filly by Unbridled's Song broke slowly, attended the pace and went on to a convincing half length win in the Grade II, 1 1/16 miles Santa Maria Stakes for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer here on Feb. 13. Off as the 9-5 favorite in a field of eight fillies and mares, Tara's Tango has been favored in five out her nine starts. With three wins to her credit, the Santa Margarita will be her first Grade I assignment, and like Taris, her first attempt beyond a mile and a sixteenth.
PENWITH: Based in South Florida and trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Penwith comes off an impressive three length win in the Grade II, 1 1/16 miles Royal Delta Stakes at Gulfstream Feb. 13 and is bidding for her third consecutive victory. A 5-year-old mare by Bernardini, she is owned by Godolphin Racing, LLC and will be ridden for the first time by Mike Smith. Best suited when she presses or makes the early lead, Penwith is one of several who figure to ensure a lively early pace on Saturday. With one win from five starts at a mile and one eighth, she has five wins from 13 starts and has earnings of $404,635.
THE GRADE I SANTA MARGARITA STAKES FIELD IN POST POSITION ORDER WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS
RACE 9 (of 11) Approximate post time, 4:35 p.m. PDT
1. Living The Life Flavien Prat 118
2. Tara's Tango Rafael Bejarano 118
3. Penwith Mike Smith 118
4. Lavender Chrissie Victor Espinoza 118
5. Moyo Honey Drayden Van Dyke 118
6. All Star Bub Martin Pedroza (Alt) 118
7. Taris Gary Stevens 118
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