Multiple graded stakes winner Fiftyshadesofhay heads a field of seven older females entered for the $200,000 Santa Maria Stakes Feb. 15 at Santa Anita Park, seeking her first win of 2014 for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.
The 4-year-old Pulpit filly, who last year won the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes for owners Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman -- in addition to the Iowa Oaks and the Santa Ysabel Stakes -- carries high weight of 120 pounds under regular rider Martin Garcia.
Fiftyshadesofhay came back from a brief rest after a runner-up finish to Princess of Sylmar in the Alabama Stakes in August and a third in the Indiana Oaks in October. She finished second after bobbling at the start in the Dec. 7 Bayakoa Stakes and was fourth with a willing finish after getting squeezed at the break in the La Canada Stakes on Jan. 19. She breaks from post 2.
Baffert also saddles Peachtree Stable's grade II-placed Ondine, winner of the Sept. 6 Beverly J. Lewis Stakes at Barretts Race Meet at Fairplex. The Medaglia d'Oro runner was third in the La Canada in her first start since that win, and back in June was third in the Hollywood Oaks. Mike Smith rides the 4-year-old filly from the 3 hole as part of an impost of 118 pounds.
Hronis Racing's Iotapa should provide prime competition in search of her first graded score. Runner-up to eventual champion Beholder in the Santa Anita Oaks at the beginning of 2013, the 4-year-old Afleet Alex filly was recently a closing second going seven furlongs in the Jan. 25 Santa Monica, first start off the layup for trainer John Sadler. Earlier in the season, she ran second in the Hollywood Oaks and third in the San Clemente after winning the Railbird at Hollywood Park. Joe Talamo rides from the rail; Iotapa carries 118.
Tommy Town Thoroughbreds' Let Faith Arise, a homebred Kafwain filly, ran the race of her life. to date, with a good closing move between horses to get second in the La Canada a neck behind winner Spellbound, and gets a second chance at graded status for Jerry Hollendorfer here. Corey Nakatani has the mount from post 5; she also carries 118.
Grade III winner Stanwyck, a half sister to 2005 Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo who races for John Shirreffs and breeders Anne and Jerry Moss, Myron Miller's Golden Production, and D P Racing's import Yahilwa complete the field.