How to bet the Santa Maria Stakes

April 20th, 2024

An octet of fillies and mares will travel 1 1/16 miles on the Santa Anita main oval in Sunday’s $200,000 Santa Maria S. (G2). In a race where I am not in love with either of the morning-line choices, I feel compelled to take a shot for some value in the affair. 

Santa Maria Wagers

  • $25 win #5 Super Shine ($25)
  • $4 trifecta 5 with 3 with all ($24)
  • $2 trifecta 5 with all with 3 ($12)

Three-time Group 2 heroine #5 Super Shine (4-1) makes her U. S. debut on Sunday, while also being saddled by conditioner Phil D’Amato for the initial time. By Super Saver, the five-year-old mare had a very good sophomore season and might have been better at four, as the dark bay was a head from being unbeaten from a trio of 2023 tough assignments. 

An unlucky runner-up in her four-year-old finale, the Argentine is proven at multiple voyages and running 1 1/16 miles off of the 11-month absence seems perfect to get her season underway. She has not missed a morning work dating back to late January, so fitness should not be an issue for the top pick. The D’Amato barn is excellent with horses returning off of long layoffs, and getting Frankie Dettori to ride is just another positive in my opinion. I’m expecting a big run from the import. 

#3 Desert Dawn (9-5), also from the D’Amato shedrow, is the most consistent contender in the cast and is a top-three must-use. The Cupid five-year-old was a smart winner of the Bayakoa (G2) two back, which preceded a decent fourth behind a fine top pair in the Beholder Mile S. (G1) last time out. The Arizona-bred will appreciate the measure of class relief on this occasion, and her best effort will make her tough to upend with Antonio Fresu in the silks. But her 3-for-20 lifetime mark makes the mare much more attractive to me as a key underneath in the vertical exotics, as opposed to putting in the top slot. 

I don’t have a great feeling on any of the other contenders in the field and will focus on the aforementioned duo.