A compact field of six fillies and mares will travel 1 1/16 miles in Sunday’s $200,000 Zenyatta Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita. The feature serves as a “Win & You’re In” event with a starting berth in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) on November 2 on the line.
The three horses to beat all possess good early speed and will be forwardly placed in the Zenyatta. Ollie’s Candy (#4) (9-5) led early in her Clement L. Hirsch (G1) tally and might try the same tactic on Sunday, but Secret Spice (#1) (8-5) and Paradise Woods (#3) (5-2) will not let her get away.
The late-running La Force (#5) (5-1) will take back early and will benefit if the pace if swift and contested.
$40 Exacta 1 with 3 = $40
$10 Exacta 1 with 5 = $10
Here is the field:
SECRET SPICE (#1) (8-5) – Grade 1 heroine was game in defeat in the Clement L. Hirsch (G1) at Del Mar in her latest venture for conditioner Richard Baltas. The vastly improved four-year-old has run her best races on the Santa Anita surface, and the bay seems poised for a big effort on Sunday. Flavien Prat will ride my top selection.
MONGOLIAN HUMOR (#2) (12-1) – Vladimir Cerin trainee was an excellent allowance winner at Del Mar in a first run off the claim. Chestnut has surely shown marked improvement in 2019, but she faces a tall task on a huge class rise while stretching out from a six-furlong sprint. Norberto Arroyo Jr. has the call.
PARADISE WOODS (#3) (5-2) – Union Rags mare has been inconsistent since 2018, but the mare is still capable of running huge on her best day, evidenced by her 10-length romp in the Santa Margarita Stakes (G2) in April. Kentucky-bred never fired at Del Mar most recently, but she thrives at The Great Race Place and looms large in this affair.
OLLIE’S CANDY (#4) (9-5) – Grade 1 vixen has proven her versatility on synthetic, turf and dirt prior to the Zenyatta. Classy filly was all heart in battling back when passed in the Clement L. Hirsch (G1) most recently, and she comes in fresh with solid morning moves in the interim. Kent Desormeaux has the assignment and could put the Candy Ride filly on the lead from the opening bell.
LA FORCE (#5) (5-1) – Paddy Gallagher pupil was a rallying second in the race in 2018 and has won or placed in seven-of-nine performances at Santa Anita. Dark bay mare is not as sharp this season as she was in 2018, but she could benefit from a busy front end at a nice price. Daughter of Power will be moving best in the stretch.
KAYDETRE (#6) (20-1) – Longshot daughter of Mizzen Mast was a distant second in the Tranquility Lake Stakes at Del Mar in advance of her Grade 1 bow. Gray five-year-old has never proven to be of this quality, and she would be a surprise today from the outside post. Martin Garcia will take the reins atop the five-year-old.
PHOTO: Secret Spice (c) Benoit Photo