ARCADIA, CA – Top local trainer Richard Baltas is planning to take two stabs at winning his first edition of the $300,000 Gamely Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park, a 1 1/8-mile turf event scheduled for Memorial Day, May 25.
Baltas is currently battling atop the trainer leaderboard with Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, despite currently serving a 15-day suspension for a medication violation. While his assistant trainer Manuel Marques saddles his stable in the meantime, Baltas has been plotting the course for his top stakes runners, including Lady Prancealot and Bodhicitta.
The Irish-bred Lady Prancealot made five starts overseas before shipping stateside in late summer 2018. Baltas thought highly enough of her to place her in four straight stakes, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1). She won three stakes in 2019, including the American Oaks (G1) on Santa Anita Park’s opening day of the winter meet.
“Lady Prancealot is doing great,” Baltas said. “She’s already a Grade 1 winner. She’s been a gem and a pleasure to have in the barn.”
Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez is slated to fly in for the mount. He and Baltas proved to be a deadly duo last year, winning all three mounts together when the east coast-based Velazquez came to town.
Bodhicitta was born in Great Britain and competed there seven times until she came to California in the summer of 2019, still seeking her first win. Baltas saddled her to victory in her third start under his care, then sent her to the Lady of Shamrock Stakes for her next race. She finished sixth, but returned to win both 2020 starts to date, each against allowance/optional claiming rivals.
The jump from that level to Grade 1 might sound steep, but Baltas is doing so on the advice of jockey Flavien Prat, who will retain the mount after being aboard for all three of her victories. Listening to a red-hot rider could be a wise move in this instance; Prat won six on Sunday to further distance himself atop the meet’s rider standings.
“It’s kind of a step up for Bodhicitta, but Prat wants to ride her back and she’s doing well,” Baltas said. “If we could just run third, we’d be real happy with the filly.”
The other early probables for the Gamely include (trainers in parenthesis):
- Beautiful Lover (Chad Brown)
- Etoile (Brown)
- Keeper Ofthe Stars (Jonathan Wong)
- Mucho Unusual (Tim Yakteen)