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Sweet Life Stakes 2024 | Santa Anita Park Picks
Julias Dream - Benoit Photo

Sweet Life Stakes 2024 | Santa Anita Park Picks

Idle since venturing to Northern Kentucky in late December, trainer Michael McCarthy’s talented Julias Dream heads a solid field of 11 sophomore fillies – none of whom have ever competed at about 6 ½ furlongs down the Santa Anita Park hillside turf course – in Sunday’s $100,000 Sweet Life Stakes.

Special early first post time for a nine-race card on Big Game Sunday is at 11 a.m. with admission gates opening at 9 a.m. 

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A first-out maiden five furlong turf winner Aug. 6 at Del Mar, Julias Dream was then well beaten on dirt in the seven furlong Grade I Del Mar Debutante Sept. 9.

Back to turf on Nov. 10, Julias Dream responded with a game neck victory at 3-5 in a five furlong turf allowance when ridden for the first time by Flavien Prat.

Shipped to Turfway Park for an ungraded stakes going six furlongs on synthetic Dec. 23, Julias Dream, off as the 5-2 favorite in a field of 10, pressed the early pace and romped by 4 ¼ lengths.

Back on her home turf and reunited with Prat, Julias Dream, a Kentucky-bred daughter of the Scat Daddy stallion Flameaway, out of the Meadowlake mare Cinnamon Girl, has three wins from four starts and has earnings of $161,124.

Phil D’Amato, who will saddle a total of three runners, is well represented by Irish-bred Zona Verde, who took the Grade III Jimmy Durante Stakes at one mile on turf two starts back Dec. 2.

Most recently a very troubled fourth at one mile on turf in the ungraded Blue Norther here at Santa Anita Park on Dec. 29, Zona Verde, who was off at 5-2, threw her head at the break, was relegated to last heading to the far turn and lacked room late in big effort.

Although ridden by Juan Hernandez in her last two starts, Zona Verde will be handled for the first time on Sunday by Kazushi Kimura.

An impressive half length one mile turf maiden winner in her U.S. debut for D’Amato four starts back on Sept. 8 at Del Mar, Zona Verde, who is owned by the Benowitz Family Trust, CYBT, Michael Nentwig, et al, appears poised for big effort in what will be her ninth overall start.

An impressive 1 ¾ length six furlong maiden turf winner Jan. 1, Bob Baffert’s Elegant retains the services of Juan Hernandez and should be on or near the early lead in her second turf try.

Well beaten in three previous dirt starts, Elegant, a Peter Blum Thoroughbreds homebred daughter of Omaha Beach out of the Pulpit mare Lovely, was dismissed at 7-1 in her maiden score and would appear to have ample upside on what certainly appears to be her preferred surface.

A gate to wire winner going 6 ½ furlongs out of the Santa Anita turf chute Jan. 28, Doug O’Neill’s Girl of My Dreams, who will be ridden back by Antonio Fresu, has shown front-running speed in all of her three turf starts and will no doubt be on or near the early Sweet Life lead.

A Kentucky-bred daughter of Kantharos out of the Uncle Mo mare, Girl of My Dreams, who sold for a bargain $60,000 as a yearling, is owned by Helm Racing Stable, Barbara Evenson and Jeffrey Lambert.


Race 7 of 9 | Approximate post time 2 p.m. PT

1. Alluring – Umberto Rispoli – 120
2. Girl of My Dreams – Antonio Fresu – 120
3. Sea Dancer – Armando Aguilar – 120
4. Zona Verde – Kazushi Kimura – 124
5. Visually – Kyle Frey – 120
6. Elegant – Juan Hernandez – 120
7. Voodoo Magic – Joel Rosario – 122
8. Dial a Friend – Edwin Maldonado – 120
9. Granny Budgie – Victor Espinoza – 122
10. Antifona – Hector Berrios – 122
11. Julias Dream – Flavien Prat – 124
12. Voodoo Magic—Joel Rosario—120