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Dr. Miranda previews the 2024 La Canada Stakes (G3) from Santa Anita Park, then gives her top picks from Saturday’s feature race.
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Lightly raced, but a winner of three graded stakes in her last six starts, Bob Baffert’s 5-year-old Midnight Memories heads Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 La Canada Stakes at Santa Anita as six older fillies and mares contest a mile and one sixteenth.
First post time for a nine-race card on Saturday is at 12:30 p.m. with admission gates opening at 10:30 a.m.
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Off at even money in the Grade III Bayakoa going the same distance at Los Alamitos Dec. 15, Midnight Memories, under a brilliant ride from Juan Hernandez, found a seam two from the rail turning for home and, although Desert Dawn got the jump on her and appeared in command a furlong out, shifted outside, found her best stride, and went on to a solid one length victory.
Owned by her breeders, Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, Midnight Memories, who is out of the Midnight Lute mare Tiz Midnight, is three for five at Santa Anita Park and is unbeaten in two starts at a mile and one sixteenth.
With Desert Dawn back in the La Canada lineup, it’ll be up to Hernandez to work out any tactical concerns as Midnight Memories, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Mastery, seeks her sixth win from nine overall starts on Saturday.
Desert Dawn, a hard knocking Arizona-bred mare trained by Phil D’Amato, will be ridden for the first time by Flavien Prat and rates a solid chance to try and turn the tables on the top choice.
Ridden by Hector Berrios in the Bayokoa at Los Alamitos, Desert Dawn stalked the early leaders while a close third to the far turn, appeared to make the lead while in-hand and four-deep but was no match for the winner late.
Easily the leading money earner in the field with $896,525, Desert Dawn, although winless in her last 11 starts since taking the Grade II Santa Anita Oaks in April of 2022, has kept top company, competing in no less than five Grade I stakes, including the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Santa Anita Park two starts back on Nov. 4—a race in which she finished fifth, only beaten 1 ¼ lengths.
In addition to the Dec. 15 Bayakoa, Desert Dawn was also second to Midnight Memories by only three quarters of a length, eight starts back in the Grade III Torrey Pines Stakes at Del Mar in September of 2022.
Bred in Arizona by her breeder, H and E Ranch, Desert Dawn is a 5-year-old mare by Cupid out of the Honour and Glory mare Ashely’s Glory. With the Santa Anita Oaks her only stakes victory, Desert Dawn has been second in five graded stakes—two of them Grade I’s and her overall race record is 18-2-5-5.
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