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Santa Maria Stakes 2024 | Santa Anita Picks
Desert Dawn (Benoit Photo)

Santa Maria Stakes 2024 | Santa Anita Picks

Veteran 5-year-old mare Desert Dawn will try and achieve millionaire status Sunday when she takes on seven rivals in the GII, $200,000 Santa Maria Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on dirt at Santa Anita Park.

With 10 races Sunday, including two stakes, first post time is 1 p.m. PT. Admission gates open at 11 a.m.

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Trained by Phil D’Amato, Desert Dawn makes her third start of the year with a career bankroll totaling $974,525. In January, the Cupid mare kicked off her 5-year-old season with a win in the GIII La Canada going 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita. She exits a fourth-place finish in the GI Beholder Mile here March 9.

Bred in Arizona, Desert Dawn races as a homebred for H & E Ranch. As a 3-year-old, she won the GII Santa Anita Oaks prior to finishing third in the Kentucky Oaks at 50-1. Desert Dawn was winless in seven starts last year, but did have three runner-up finishes in graded stakes including the GI Clement L. Hirsch at Del Mar.

Desert Dawn, who is 3-5-5- in 20 starts, will be ridden by Antonio Fresu for the second straight time.

A new face in the lineup is South American import Super Shine, who is also trained by D’Amato. Bred in Argentina, the 5-year-old Super Saver mare was a multiple group stakes winner and twice Group I-placed in her native country. She makes her U.S. bow for owner R Unicorn Stable.

Super Shine has been working steadily since mid-February at Santa Anita. She will have star jockey Frankie Dettori in the irons for her U.S. unveiling.

Coffee in Bed will look for an improved effort after never being a factor when sixth in the Beholder Mile. Trained by Richard Mandella, Coffee in Bed previously was beaten just a length by Desert Dawn when second in the La Canada.

A 4-year-old Curlin mare, Coffee in Bed is owned by Spendthrift Farm. She is 2-2-1 in eight starts with $133,860 in earnings. Hall of Famer Mike Smith, who was aboard for both the La Canada and Beholder, again has the call.

Turnerloose, also trained by D’Amato, returns to dirt seeking her first win in California. She was previously a stakes winner in 2021 in Kentucky and 2022 in Louisiana while trained by Brad Cox. A 5-year-old Nyquist mare, Turnerloose arrived in California last summer and has made six starts, all in stakes. In her two most recent outings, she was third in the GIII Bayakoa on dirt at Los Alamitos in December and fourth in the GIII Wilshire at one mile on turf here April 4.

Turnerloose is owned by Abbondanza Racing LLC, Medallion Racing, Dawn Thrash and Ike Thrash. She is 3-2-3 in 17 starts with $695,392 in earnings.


Race 9 of 10 | Approximate post time 5 p.m.

  1. Big Novel – Juan Hernandez – 120
  2. Princess Bettina – Edwin Maldonado – 120
  3. Desert Dawn – Antonio Fresu – 122
  4. Blue Dream Machine – Abner Adorno – 120
  5. Super Shine – Lanfranco Dettori – 120
  6. Turnerloose – Kazushi Kimura – 120
  7. Coffee In Bed – Mike Smith – 120
  8. Liberal Lady – Umberto Rispoli – 120