Santa Monica Stakes – Race 8 at Santa Anita – Post Time 7:20 PM Eastern (4:20 PM Pacific)
The main contenders in this race are Qahira, Fair Maiden, Amuse and Golden Principal.
Qahira has run five “A” races in a row, winning four of those and finishing second (beaten less than a length) in the other. The runner-up effort came in the Grade 3 Chillingworth Stakes at six and one-half furlongs, very similar to this grade 2 stakes at seven furlongs. That effort was in September before nearly four months off. She returned to win last month in a non-graded stakes in hand (with a lot of gas left in the tank). Rosario rode her for the first time in that race and rides her back, with improving to do in her second start off the layoff and particularly as her last two works have been excellent. As such, Qahira is pretty likely to win right back and for the sixth time in her ninth career race.
Fair Maiden posted the 20 to 1 upset in the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes on opening day (12/26) but it wasn’t really a fluke as she had run as well two races before that on 9/19. Both efforts earned a 101 Equibase figure, right on par with the 102 figure Qahira earned in her stakes win last month. The win in the one level higher La Brea came at the distance of the Santa Monica but against three year olds only so she is facing older for the first time. On the other hand, since this is essentially the first start of her four year old campaign it can be assumed she has more improving to do than some of the older mares. Additionally, 2020 Santa Monica winner, Hard Not to Love, who is also entered here, won the La Brea prior to her win, so the pattern suggests Fair Maiden has every right to come right back and win her second graded stakes in a row.
Amuse finished second behind Qahira, last month, beaten a length, after rallying from last of six in the early stages. That was her first start after four months off so she has improving to do but on the other hand she has not won since December of 2018. Still, she was off for 14 months until June of last year and she has hit the board in three straight so it would be tough to leave her out as a contender, particularly as she opens at 8/1.
Also opening at 8/1 is Golden Principal, who finished second behind Fair Maiden in the La Brea. Different from Fair Maiden, Golden Principal isn’t facing older for the first time as she beat older fillies and mares in an allowance race before the La Brea. In the La Brea, Golden Principal made the lead in the stretch with a big rally from fifth but was no match for Fair Maiden in the stretch. Nevertheless she was clearly second by another length and one half over the third horse. Although I think she has less of a chance to win than either Qahira or Fair Maiden, she must be considered for all wagers we make involving this race at odds which I believe are higher than they should be.
Win: Qahira and Fair Maiden at odds of 2 to 1 or more.
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Exacta: Box Qahira, Fair Maiden, Amuse and Golden Principal
Box Qahira, Fair Maiden, Amuse and Golden Principal
Qahira over Fair Maiden, Amuse and Golden Principal over ALL
Qahira over ALL over Fair Maiden, Amuse and Golden Principal
Race 8: Qahira, Fair Maiden, Amuse and Golden Principal
Race 9: Goalie, Award Winner, Taishan
Race 8: Qahira
Race 9: Goalie, Award Winner, Taishan, Heywoods Beach, Scarto