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Aaron previews the 2022 La Brea (G1) from Santa Anita, then gives his top picks & long shots from this important Grade 1 race. Trainer Bob Baffert aims at winning this race once again this year, while training multiple horses with big chances, including Under the Starts. Will the Baffert barn win again this year? If so, which Baffert horse wins? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!
ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 21, 2022)—With four horses entered, Monday’s Grade I, $300,000 La Brea Stakes would appear to run through the Bob Baffert stable. His Midnight Memories, fresh off a pair of graded stakes wins, rates top billing in a very competitive field of eight sophomore fillies going seven furlongs on Santa Anita’s opening day 11-race card.
Owned and bred by longtime Baffert devotees Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, Midnight Memories has been idle since galloping to a 3 ¼ length score going 1 1/16 miles in the Grade II Zenyatta Stakes here on Oct. 2.
A winner of the Grade II Torrey Pines Stakes going a flat mile at Del Mar two starts back, Midnight Memories will be ridden for the third time in a row by Ramon Vazquez as she seeks her first Grade I trophy.
A Kentucky-bred daughter of Mastery, Midnight Memories has tasted defeat just once in five starts, a troubled third place finish is a six furlong allowance three starts back on July 28. Favored in four out of her five races, she looms the pari-mutuel choice in the La Brea as well.
Owned by Baoma Corp, Baffert’s Ganadora, a $1 million Keeneland September Yearling purchase, comes off an eight-length score going a flat mile in and ungraded stakes at Los Alamitos and will be ridden for the first time by Johnny Velazquez.
A winner of her first two starts at 6 ½ furlongs, Ganadora has won three of her four starts and will be trying Grade I competition for the first time.
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Baffert is also solidly repped by his California-bred Fun to Dream, who he bred in partnership with Connie Pageler, who is also the co-owner along with Baffert’s wife Jill.
By Arrogate, Fun to Dream comes off a much better than looked head victory going seven furlongs in the statebred Betty Grable Stakes at Del Mar Nov. 13. In search of her third consecutive win, Fun to Dream has won four out of her five starts, all in partnership with Juan Hernandez, who’s back aboard in the La Brea.
Idle since finishing second to Eclipse Champ Ce Ce going 6 ½ furlongs in the Grade II Chillingworth Stakes here on Oct. 2, Baffert’s Under the Stars, who took the Grade II Santa Ynez Stakes in her only try at seven furlongs six starts back on Jan. 8, will be reunited with Flavien Prat, who was aboard for the Santa Ynez score. Owned by Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith the Kentucky-bred filly by Pioneerof the Nile is 9-3-2-2 overall.
In what will be her first Southern California start, the speedy Hot Peppers, who ships in from Belmont Park for trainer Rudy Rodriguez, was a close second two starts back in the Grade I Test Stakes going seven panels on Aug. 6 at Saratoga and she was most recently fourth as the 2-1 favorite in the Grade II Prioress as six furlongs on Sept. 2 at Saratoga.
By the Distorted Humor stallion Khozan, Hot Peppers, who was a Grade III winner sprinting three starts back, is 9-5-2-0 overall and is owned by Michael Dubb and Michael Caruso.
THE GRADE I LA BREA WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER
Race 8 of 11 Approximate post time 2:30p.m. PT
First post time for an 11-race card that includes six graded stakes on Monday is at 11 a.m. Admission gates open at 9 a.m.
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