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Santa Anita Park Preview | Las Cienegas Stakes 2024
Wakanaka (Lauren King / Coglianese Photos)

Santa Anita Park Preview | Las Cienegas Stakes 2024

In a race that lacks a clear-cut standout, trainer Neil Drysdale’s French-bred Nadette cuts back in distance and appears to have a big look among a field of 11 older fillies and mares going about 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course in Sunday’s Grade III, $100,000 Las Cienegas Stakes.

First post time for a nine-race card on Sunday is at 12:30 p.m. with admission gates opening at 10:30 a.m.

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A fast finishing third going a mile on turf in the restricted Kathryn Crosby Stakes Nov. 11 at Del Mar, Nadette, who hadn’t run since April 29 at Golden Gate Fields, should benefit from the recent outing and with an abundance of speed signed on Sunday, will hope to be rolling late with Hector Berrios back aboard.

Although winless in six stateside starts for Drysdale dating back to Oct. 29, when she closed much ground to be second at a mile on grass in the Grade III Autumn Miss, Nadette has competed exclusively in stakes, four of them graded, finishing second twice and third in her most recent, the Crosby at Del Mar.

A 5-year-old mare, Nadette, who is owned by Team Valor International, LLC, is 15-3-3-1 with earnings of $140,634.

Also owned in-part by Team Valor, Irish-bred Wakanaka rates a big look in what will be her first start at Santa Anita. A Grade II winner she is easily the leading money earner in the field with $913,575 and will be reunited with Joel Rosario, who has ridden her seven times, winning an ungraded stakes at Keeneland in November, 2022.

Trained by Bill Mott in all of her 13 previous North American starts, winning two of them, she’ll be making her first start for locally-based Michael McCarthy.

Although campaigned primarily at middle distances on turf, she’s proven more than capable in turf sprints as well, as she rallied from far off the pace on Oct. 15 at Keeneland and was second, beaten a neck in the Grade II Ladies Turf Sprint going 6 ½ furlongs three races back at Kentucky Downs on Sept. 9.

A 6-year-old mare owned jointly by Gary Barber and Team Valor, Wakanaka, who campaigned exclusively in Italy prior to making her U.S. debut at Gulfstream Park in January, 2022, is 22-8-6-2 overall.

Phil D’Amato’s speedy Elm Drive, who has posted a win and a second from two tries down the hillside, cuts back in distance from a seventh place run going a mile on turf in the Grade I Matriarch at Del Mar Dec. 3 and although she’ll have other speed to contend with, should be extremely tough with Flavien Prat taking the call.

A winner down the hill of the ungraded Misdirection Stakes six starts back on May 20, Elm Drive, a 5-year-old Kentucky-bred mare by Mohaymen, was second, beaten a head down the hill two races back in the ungraded Senator Ken Maddy on Nov. 3.

Owned by Little Red Feather Racing, consistent Elm Drive is 15-5-1-3 with earnings of $516,640.


Race 7 of 9 | Approximate post time 3:30 p.m. PT

  1. Free and Humble—Santiago Gonzalez—120
  2. Honey Pants—Kyle Frey—120
  3. Nadette—Hector Berrios—122
  4. Fast and Shiny—Drayden Van Dyke—122
  5. Kissed by Fire—Mike Smith—120
  6. Lexington Humor—Armando Ayuso—120
  7. Wakanaka—Joel Rosario—124
  8. Benedict Canyon—Antonio Fresu—120
  9. Elm Drive—Flavien Prat—124
  10. Anthonys Cleopatra—Frank Alvarado—122
  11. Gracelund Gray—Juan Hernandez—122
  12. (Also Eligible) Adaay In Asia—Kazushi Kimura—120