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2023 Santa Ynez Stakes Preview & FREE Picks | Heavy Favorite Justique Scratched From Kentucky Oaks Prep
Justique (Lindsay Affleck)

2023 Santa Ynez Stakes Preview & FREE Picks | Heavy Favorite Justique Scratched From Kentucky Oaks Prep

Magic previews the 2023 Santa Ynez Stakes (G3) from Santa Anita Park, then gives his top picks & long shots from this prep race for the 2023 Kentucky Oaks (G1). The John Shirreffs-trained Justique will scratch as the heavy favorite, so who does Magic like on top? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!

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The track press release:

Fresh off a visually impressive win in an ungraded stakes Nov. 19, C R K Stable’s Justique heads a field of six sophomore fillies going seven furlongs in Sunday’s Grade III, $100,000 Santa Ynez Stakes at Santa Anita.

Originally scheduled to be run on New Year’s Day, the Santa Ynez was re-drawn Thursday due to this past Sunday’s races being cancelled. With Justique remaining the horse to beat, she’ll face five rivals, all of whom were scheduled to run on Jan. 1.

Trained by John Shirreffs, Justique, in a come-from-behind performance reminiscent of the great Zenyatta, walked out of the gate in the seven furlong Desi Arnaz Stakes at Del Mar Nov. 19, was about 10 lengths off the lead at the half mile pole, cruised into contention while within herself around the far turn and won as she pleased by 2 ¼ lengths under a hand ride from Victor Espinoza.

Purchased for $725,000 as a Keeneland September Yearling, Justique, who is by 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify, went largely unnoticed in her 5 ½ furlong debut July 31, as she won from far off the pace at odds of 8-1.

Subsequently third, beaten 5 ½ lengths at 6-5 as she stretched out to a mile and one sixteenth in the Grade II Chandelier Stakes here Oct. 8, Justique was nonetheless favored when off at 3-2 in the Desi Arnaz.

Off slowly in all three of her starts, Justique will likely employ similar tactics as she takes on a competitive group of classmates that will include three Bob Baffert trainees.

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Richard Mandella’s Ice Dancing, an impressive one length gate to wire maiden winner going a flat mile on Nov. 25 at Del Mar, finished a half length behind Justique two starts back in the Chandelier Stakes and rates serious consideration as she cuts back to one turn.

A grey or roan filly by Frosted, Ice Dancing who is owned by Ramona and Perry Bass and bred in Kentucky by their Bass Stables, LLC, was third in the Grade I Del Mar Debutante going seven eighths three starts back and will be ridden by Mike Smith in what will be her fifth career start and her third graded stakes engagement.

Of the three Baffert entrants, Huntingcoco, Parody and Fast and Shiny (who was supplemented), Parody, would appear to have the most speed, while Huntingcoco a 6 ¾ length first out maiden winner who has been beaten double digits in two subsequent stakes engagements, most recently a fifth place run behind Justique in the Desi Arnaz, may have the most upside.


Race 6 of 8 Approximate post time 2:30 p.m. PT

  1. Satin Doll—Edwin Maldonado—120
  2. Fast and Shiny—Ramon Vazquez–120
  3. Justique—Victor Espinoza—122
  4. Parody—Juan Hernandez—120
  5. Huntingcoco—John Velazquez—120
  6. Ice Dancing—Flavien Prat–120

First post time for a nine-race card on Sunday is at 12 noon, with admission gates opening at 10 a.m