By Steve Andersen DRF Jun 01, 2020
Leading rider Flavien Prat will ride Speech in Saturday’s Grade 2 Santa Anita Oaks for 3-year-old fillies.
Speech, trained by Michael McCarthy for Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, was second in her stakes debut in the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel Stakes on March 8 at Santa Anita and was later second by a neck in an allowance race with a $100,000 claiming option on May 2 at Oaklawn Park. Both races were at the 1 1/16-mile distance of the Santa Anita Oaks.
Through Sunday, Prat led all riders at Santa Anita with 66 wins, 11 more than closest pursuer Abel Cedillo.
The Santa Anita Oaks will not have a large field. Trainer Bob Baffert said over the weekend that he plans to start Gingham, who was fifth in the Gardenia Stakes on May 1 at Oaklawn Park, and Merneith, winner of a maiden special weight race at Oaklawn Park by 10 1/2 lengths on April 19.
The Santa Anita Oaks is one of three graded stakes on a rich Saturday program that includes seven stakes.
The Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby at 1 1/8 miles is worth $400,000 and is the day’s richest race. The candidates include Anneau d’Or, Authentic, Azul Coast, Honor A. P., Rushie, and Shooters Shoot.
Monday, Shooters Shoot worked five furlongs in 1:02.40 for trainer Peter Eurton. The Santa Anita Derby will be the stakes debut for Shooters Shoot, a winner of 2 of 6 starts.
The Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup at 1 1/4 miles is the leading race of the spring at Santa Anita for older horses. The top contenders for the $300,000 Gold Cup are Improbable, Higher Power, and Midcourt.
◗ Fighting Mad, who led throughout Sunday’s Grade 2 Santa Maria Stakes, is likely to run next in the Grade 1 Clement Hirsch Stakes on Aug. 2 at Del Mar, Baffert said Monday. Laura’s Light, who won Saturday’s Grade 3 Honeymoon Stakes, is a candidate for the Grade 2 San Clemente Stakes on July 25 at Del Mar, trainer Peter Miller said.