A wide-open field of six fillies and mares will battle at Santa Anita Park this weekend in the $300,000 Rodeo Drive Stakes (G1). The event is one of the major highlights of a tremendous opening weekend of racing on tap for the Southern California track and serves as a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” for the Filly & Mare Turf (G1).

Trainer Michael McCarthy’s Paved is back for revenge after nearly winning last year’s running as a 3-year-old, missing by just a 1/2-length. After that performance, she gave the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) a shot, where she finished a well-beaten 12th. She has yet to triumph in two starts this year, but she was a solid fourth in the John C. Mabee Stakes (G2) and third in the Osunitas Stakes, both at Del Mar. McCarthy knows how to win at the Breeders’ Cup, having conditioned last year’s Dirt Mile (G1) winner City of Light.

The winner of the Rodeo Drive Stakes will receive an automatic position in the $2 million Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) this fall at Santa Anita Park. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the nominating person. Also, all Breeders’ Cup starters based outside of the state of California will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based Internationally.

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Here is a look at the full field:

#1 Mirth – This filly has hit the board in three of her last four starts, including finishing second by a neck in the Possibly Perfect Stakes, her most recent Santa Anita Park appearance. Last time out, she set a very hot pace in the CTT and TOC Stakes at Del Mar before struggling to a fifth-place finish. This will be her first start against graded stakes company.

 #2 Beau Recall – Since moving to trainer Brad Cox’s barn, this mare has blossomed into a solid turf runner. Three races back, she picked up a huge win in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Stakes (G2) before narrowly losing the Just a Game Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park. After those solid starts away from California, she returned to Del Mar and won the Yellow Ribbon Handicap (G2). She should be primed and ready for a big effort in this spot.

 #3 Elysea’s World – She’s picked up just one win in five starts this year, but that victory came in the local Santa Ana Stakes (G3). After that, she finished fourth in the Gamely Stakes (G1) over this track, then lost twice at Del Mar in the Yellow Ribbon Handicap (G2) and the John C. Mabee Stakes (G2). She should take a step forward in her third start of her current form cycle and attracted Flavien Prat, one of the west coast’s top riders.

 #4 Siberian Iris – Trainer Richard Mandella brings this horse into the race off of a win in the CTT and TOC Stakes at Del Mar. This will be her second start against graded stakes company, with her first effort coming in the Red Carpet Handicap (G3) at Santa Anita, where she finished second. She fits into this race well, especially based on her most recent performance.

 #5 Excellent Sunset –Since transferring to the United States from Europe, this Irish-bred mare has hit the board in six of her seven starts. She has just one start under her belt in 2019, which was a second-place effort at Del Mar in an allowance/optional claiming race. Last year, she ended her season by finishing a solid second in the local Robert J. Frankel Stakes (G3). She’ll be primed for a solid effort in her second start off of the layoff.

 #6 Paved – Last year, Paved nearly won this race as a 3-year-old before finishing 12th in the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1). This distance seems to be right up her alley and she will be making her third start off the layoff, which is usually when a horse is ready to run its best race.

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The Rodeo Drive Stakes serves as one of seven Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” events this weekend at Santa Anita Park and Belmont Park. Here is the full schedule for this coming weekend:

  • Friday:The Chandelier Stakes (Juvenile Fillies) at Santa Anita Park
  • Friday:The American Pharoah Stakes (TVG Juvenile) at Santa Anita Park
  • Saturday:The Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes (Longines Classic) at Belmont Park
  • Saturday:The Vosburgh Stakes (Sprint) at Belmont Park
  • Saturday:The Awesome Again Stakes (Longines Classic) at Santa Anita Park
  • Saturday:The Rodeo Drive Stakes (Maker’s Mark Filly & Mare Turf) at Santa Anita Park
  • Sunday:The Zenyatta Stakes (Longines Distaff) at Santa Anita Park

The American-based Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” events continue next weekend with an eye-popping 16 events, starting Friday at Keeneland on the Lexington track’s opening day. The Action will continue throughout the country on Saturday and Sunday, with more races from Keeneland, Belmont Park, and Santa Anita Park.