Although there is only one stakes race with prize-money of at least $100,000 this Sunday, the SANTA YNEZ STAKES at Santa Anita is an important one for the Fillies. The $200,000 Grade II race is one of the stops on the 2019 Kentucky Oaks qualifying tour.
The winner will be awarded 10 points, second place receives four points, third gets two, and fourth adds one point to their qualifying total. With only five horses in this group, all but one horse will get some Oaks points and somewhat closer to making Louisville reservations for the first Saturday in May.
The SANTA YNEZ is the ninth of 15 races in the prep-season stage. Prep races are followed by 13 Kentucky Oaks Championship Series races and two wild-card races. At the end of the road, the 14 horses that have accumulated the most points are in the Kentucky Oaks, followed by the next four who receive "also eligible" status if one of the first 14 can't compete.
Heading into the Sunday's race, JAYWALK leads the way with 30 points. RESTLESS RIDER holds down the two spot at 22 points, and the 4/5 SANTA YNEZ STAKES morning-line favorite, BELLAFINA (PP: 2), checks in at third with 12 points. A win for the Simon Callaghan trainer would move her into a tie for second.
With a win, MOTHER MOTHER (PP: 1 ML 9/5) would catapult from a 14th place tie with six other fillies into fourth place on the leaderboard, most likely right behind BELLAFINA, unless the pre-race favorite runs fifth of five. With a second-place finish, MOTHER would pull into a tie for eighth with VIBRANCE.
BELLAFINA and MOTHER MOTHER will face off against three other ladies, SOLD IT (PP: 3 ML 8-1), TOMLIN (PP: 4 ML 8-1) and REFLECT (PP: 5 ML 6-1). The quintet will run 7-furlong on Santa Anita dirt with the winner adding $120,000 to their bankroll.
Looking at past performances, the eighth race on Santa Anita's Sunday card looks like a two-horse affair with the other three racing for third.
Hers is how our handicapper put in our pro-subscriber's bonus commentary.
"BELLAFINA hopped and was bumped at the start of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies as the post-time favorite. Prior to the poor BC start, she won three consecutive Grade 1 races by at least 4 1/4 lengths. MOTHER MOTHER will likely be the pace setter in a short field. If she can run reasonable fractions, she can pull off the mild upset as four of nine races at the distance/surface were won wire-to-wire. TOMLIN and SOLD IT appear to be running for third. TOMLIN is in better current form on paper. REFLECT has lost her last two races by a combined 80 lengths."
Although we believe it is unlikely one from the TOMLIN, SOLD IT and REFLECT trio is going to pull off the upset, a win by any of the three longshots would put them high (most likely fourth) on the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard 60% through the Oaks prep races.
We'll continue to track the road to the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby, so keep it here.