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A field of eight are set to contest this year’s running of the Grade 1, $300,000 Rodeo Drive Stakes at Santa Anita Park. The race serves as a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” event for the Maker’s Mark Filly & Mare Turf on November 3 at Churchill Downs. Vasilika headlines the event as she attempts to win her seventh straight while also trying to capture her first Grade 1 victory. Last time out, she won the Grade 2 John C. Mabee Stakes at Del Mar, her first career start in a stakes race of any kind. She was able to defeat Cambodia, who will once again be her main challenger. Flavien Prat retains the mount when Vasilika breaks from post 6.
The winner of the Rodeo Drive will receive an automatic position in the Breeders’ Cup Maker’s Mark Filly & Mare Turf this fall at Churchill Downs. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the person who nominated the foal or racehorse. Also, all Breeders’ Cup starters based outside of the state of Kentucky will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based internationally.
The Grade 1 Rodeo Drive Stakes shares the Saturday card at Santa Anita Park with three other Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” events: The Grade 1 American Pharoah Stakes (Sentient Jet Juvenile), The Grade 1 Chandelier Stakes (Tito’s Handmade Vodka Juvenile Fillies), and the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes (Classic). The North American-based Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” events return on Friday, October 5 at Keeneland, and continue through the weekend at Keeneland, Belmont, and Santa Anita.
The full field from the rail out includes: Paved, Tisbutadream, Beau Recall, Queen Blossom, Amboseli, Vasilika, Sophie P, and Cambodia.
#8 Cambodia –After running into some tough competition early in the year on the east coast, Cambodia has returned to California with business on her mind. She was third in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turfwhile only being defeated by 1 3/4 lengths. This year, she returned to the site of last years’ Breeders’ Cup and picked up a big win in the Grade 2 Yellow Ribbon Handicap. Last time out, she was a fast-closing second in the Grade 2 John C. Mabee Stakes, coming just short of catching Vasilika. Those two will be the main contenders to win.
#6 Vasilika –It’s hard not to root for this former claimer. She has a solid record at Santa Anita, winning five and finishing second once in six lifetime starts here. She will be difficult to beat once again.
#7 Sophie P –During Santa Anita’s summer meet, this horse became a Grade 1 winner, taking home the Gamely Stakesby a nose. Since then, however, she’s hit the board just once in three attempts. Last time out in the Grade 2 John C. Mabee Stakes, she was fourth, beaten 4 lengths. She stretches out in distance here, which could be beneficial due to her solid European breeding.
#1 Paved – This 3-year-old filly will take on older company for the first time at a place where we have seen some of her best races. She is already a Grade 2 winnerhere, and she has a Grade 1 in her sights.
#3 Beau Recall – This horse has struggled lately, missing the board in her last four starts, all of which were against tough competition. Getting back to Santa Anita could help her reverse her current form, though, as she previously won a Grade 2over this surface.
#4 Queen Blossom – She has hit the board in three straight coming into this contest. Three races back, she took home the Grade 3 Santa Barbara Stakeshere at solid odds of 9/1. In each of her last two starts, she has had the lead turning for home before being narrowly caught. This distance is right up her alley, though, which is sure to make her tough to catch in this spot.
#2 Tisbutadream – This European shipper gives the United States style of racing another shot after a poor effort in her first attempt. Last time out, Tisbutadream was a 39/1 longshot in the Grade 2 Yellow Ribbon Handicapat Del Mar and ran like it, finishing 10th. However, European shippers can perform much better the second time that they run stateside. That could be the case with her.
#5 Amboseli –Last year, she was 3/4 of a length from winning this race. That fact alone makes her interesting. This year, she has struggled in all four of her starts, with her best performance coming last time out in the $75,000 CTT and TOC Stakes at Del Mar. While that field was not exactly overwhelming, it does serve as a positive performance compared to some of her other recent races. She went off at 37/1 in this race last year and there is a solid chance that she is a big price once again.
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