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Mike previews the 2022 Rodeo Drive Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park, then gives his top picks and longshots from this “Win & You’re In” for the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. The Phil D’Amato trainee Going to Vegas faces 6 rivals in a tough renewal as she seeks to defend her 2021 race title. Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!
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Based in Kentucky, trainer Brendon Walsh’s classy Family Way rates top billing among a field of seven distaffers going a mile and one quarter on turf in Saturday’s Grade I, $300,000 Rodeo Drive Stakes at Santa Anita.
A Breeders’ Cup “Win & You’re In” Challenge Race qualifier, the Rodeo Drive winner will earn a fees-paid berth into the Grade I, $2 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Keeneland on Nov. 5.
Second, beaten 1 ½ lengths in a Grade III going a marathon 1 5/16 miles as the 4-5 favorite at Kentucky Downs Sept. 13, Family Way was a solid third two starts back in the Grade I Beverly D at Churchill Downs Aug. 13 and she brings an impressive 2022 resume of 6-1-4-1, all in graded stakes this year.
Trained by Brendan Walsh, Family Way, a 5-year-old mare by Uncle Mo out of the Giant’s Causeway mare Susie’s Baby, will be making her first Southern California appearance as she seeks her first Grade I win in what will be her 19th career start while ridden for the first time by Mike Smith.
Kentucky-bred but raced in France through her first six starts at age three, Family Way, who is owned by Hunter Valley Farm, Debra O’Connor and Marc Detampel, is 18-5-5-3 overall with earnings of $922,860.
Chad Brown’s New York-based Fluffy Socks, winless this year in five tries but second in four of those races—three of them graded stakes, rates a huge chance from off the pace with Joe Bravo. A 4-year-old filly by Slumber out of the Kitten’s Joy mare Breakfast Time, Fluffy Socks is owned by her breeder, Head of Plains Partners, LLC.
A multiple graded winner, Fluffy Socks seeks her first Grade I win as she approaches the Rodeo Drive with an overall mark of 16-4-7-2 with earnings of $669,680.
Last year’s Rodeo Drive winner Going to Vegas, was a troubled third in the Grade II John C. Mabee Stakes Sept. 10 at Del Mar, has five wins and six seconds from 14 starts over the Santa Anita turf and she has two wins and as many seconds from four tries at the Rodeo Drive distance.
Trained by Phil D’Amato, Going to Vegas, a 5-year-old mare by Goldencents out of the Johannesburg mare Hard to Resist, has three seconds from four starts this year and will be reunited with Umberto Rispoli, who was aboard for last year’s Rodeo Drive win.
Owned by Abbondanza Racing, LLC, Medallion Racing and MyRacehorse, Going to Vegas is 27-7-11-3 overall with earnings of $809,151.
Trainer Leonard Powell’s consistent French-bred Neige Blanche, who has four wins from nine tries over the Santa Anita lawn, is another multiple stakes winner in search of her first Grade I win. Most recently fifth, beaten three lengths as the 4-5 favorite in an ungraded stakes at 1 3/8 miles on turf Aug. 19, Neige Blanche will be handled by regular rider Juan Hernandez.
Owned by Madaket Stables, LLC, Laura De Seroux, Valerie Naify, et al, Neige Blanche has won three of her five starts this year and is 20-9-0-4 overall with earnings of $542,280.
Race 5 of 10 – Approximate post time 3 p.m. PT
First post time for a 10-race card on Saturday is at 1 p.m.
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