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Santa Monica Preview: Fair Maiden Brings Four La Brea Rivals
Fair Maiden (Credit: Ernie Belmonte)

Santa Monica Preview: Fair Maiden Brings Four La Brea Rivals

ARCADIA, CA – Godolphin homebred Fair Maiden, winner of last December’s La Brea Stakes (G1), brings four rivals from that event into Saturday’s $200,000 Santa Monica Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park.

The Santa Monica is a 7-furlong dirt sprint restricted to fillies and mares ages 4 and up. This year’s edition is the penultimate event on a 9-race card and has a local post time of 4:30 PM.

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Here’s a look at the full field for the Santa Monica:

1. Merneith 5/1 – She chased a hot pace in the La Brea while stuck on the inside, then had enough class to save third after a pair of closers shot past her. All 3 career wins, including the Fort Springs Stakes on the Breeders’ Cup undercard at Keeneland, came going 6 furlongs, so she must overcome this tough-luck post draw while proving that she can run this far.

2. Miss Stormy D – She will scratch after competing in a Santa Anita turf allowance the day prior.

3. Fair Maiden 4/1 – She pulled off a 20/1 surprise in the La Brea in her first start under Ricky Gonzalez, who retains the mount as she returns to face several familiar faces. She seems to have found her sweet spot sprinting on dirt, but she won the Catch a Glimpse Stakes sprinting on Woodbine’s turf as a juvenile and came within a neck of winning the Natalma Stakes (G1).

4. Hard Not to Love 7/2 – She cuts back to sprinting for the first time since winning 2 straight over this course and distance when she parlayed an 11/1 upset in the 2019 La Brea into conquering last year’s Santa Monica as the 3/5 favorite. The meet’s leading rider Juan Hernandez (through Thursday) takes the mount aboard the quirky one-eyed mare for the first time.

5. Qahira 4/1 – She steps back up to face graded stakes rivals after winning the local 6 1/2-furlong Kalookan Queen Stakes last time out, her first start in 4 months after missing by 3/4 of a length in the Chillingworth Stakes (G3) over the same course and distance. Jockey Joel Rosario rides back on a 5-year-old mare who hails from a damside family that gets better with age.

6. Golden Principal 8/1 – She took first run at the pacesetters in the La Brea last time out and took the lead but was no match for the eventual winner’s rally. She’s never missed the board in 4 starts when underneath Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, who rides for the fourth straight time. She’s still trying to find her first taste of victory at Santa Anita Park (3-0-2-1 record).

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7. Secret Keeper 12/1 – She won 2 straight to start her career, then finished second in last August’s Torrey Pines Stakes (G3) behind the eventual fourth-place finisher of the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1). She was last of 8 in the Raven Run Stakes (G2) after not shipping well to Keeneland and couldn’t withstand the onslaught of closers in the La Brea, finishing fifth.

8. Amuse 8/1 – She rallied from last to finish second in the Kalookan Queen for her third straight on-the-board result, all coming in dirt sprints against graded stakes rivals. That was her first start after 4 months away and several of her recent works have been with her Richard Mandella stablemate Moonlight d’Oro, winner of last week’s Las Virgenes Stakes (G3).

9. Proud Emma 15/1 – She cuts back to sprinting for the first time since finishing second against optional claimers in a 6 1/2-furlong Del Mar dirt dash last August. Her sixth and most recent victory came in the 1 1/16-mile Bayakoa Stakes (G3) at Los Alamitos 2 starts back and she earned her second career score over this course and distance in March 2019. 

10. Pharoah’s Heart – Morning line oddsmaker Jon White reported that she will scratch.

11. Biddy Duke 12/1 – Despite being a freshly-turned 4-year-old, this super-speedy filly’s resume has more starts (22) and wins (7) than anyone else in this field. Her usual running style is to gun hard from the gate and try to hold them all off by the wire, but she’s never won beyond 6 furlongs. Umberto Rispoli, second in the meet’s jockey standings, rides back.

12. Bohemian Bourbon 20/1 – She switches over to dirt (a 21% winning move for trainer Michael McCarthy) after finishing a well-beaten eighth over the local turf in last month’s 6-furlong Las Cienegas Stakes (G3). That was her first start for McCarthy after SF Bloodstock purchased her for $175k at auction and leased her 2021 ownership rights to MyRacehorse.

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