Three Grade 1 Races Highlight Opening Day at Santa Anita

santa anita

The Santa Anita meeting kicks off Saturday with seven stakes including three Grade 1 races. (Photo credit: © Cheryl Quigley |

Delayed by two days due to rain, Santa Anita’s opening day is here, an 11-race card that features seven stakes races including three Grade 1 events.

After a rash of equine deaths at last year’s meeting the industry and horseplayers will be holding their collective breaths that the Arcadia track has a safe meeting.

It will be a challenging meet with fewer horses on the grounds as some barns are venturing elsewhere including Oaklawn Park.

We do have a short field in today’s $300,000 Malibu with a field of just five. It is not a good betting race, but it will be interesting to see Omaha Beach and Complexity square off.

The $300,000 American Oaks (G1) is the most wide open among the trio of Grade 1 races this afternoon. The 1 ¼ mile turf test drew a field of eight.

Lady Prancealot is the 2-1 morning line favorite. The Richard Baltas trainee won the Valley View (G3) at Keeneland on Oct. 18 in her last start.

Her main rivals are Vibrance, who was third in the Red Carpet Handicap (G3) and Mucho Unusual, who has lost three in a row after winning the San Clemente (G2) back in July at Del Mar.

Bellafina is the headliner in the $300,000 La Brea (G1) which drew a field of nine. The filly earned a career top speed figure in a runner up finish in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) in her last start.

Among her main foes are the one-two finishers in the Raven Run (G2) at Keeneland—Bell’s the One and First Star as well as Hard Not to Love, who is a well bred filly saddled by John Shirreffs who has won three of her four career starts and makes her graded stakes debut.

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Let’s head out to Santa Anita for Saturday’s featured race of the day:

Santa Anita Race 7 The La Brea G1 (Post time 2:18 PT)

7 Hard Not to Love   6-1

1 First Star   4-1

5 Bellafina   9-5

6 Bell’s the One   7-2


Hard Not to Love

This filly came off a 5 1/2-month break with a game win versus Alw-2 optional claimers, her third win in four career starts, all over the main track here. Her lone loss came two back in her lone start in stakes company where she set the early fractions and tired to finish third in the Angel Flight. She broke her maiden in her debut for Shirreffs who usually does not have them fully cranked first out. She then beat Alw-1 optional claimers in her first start against winners, that effort coming at 6 1/2 furlongs. This gal was a $400,000 Keeneland purchase and she has two sibs and they are both stakes winners—Wonder Gadot ($1.5 million) and Solemn Tribute ($181,324). Smith sticks and this gal looks as if she still has plenty of upside.

First Star

The Ron Ellis trainee made her stakes debut last out in the Raven Run (G2) at Keeneland going seven furlongs after winning her first two career starts at Del Mar. She tracked the early pace, took over the lead and could not hold off Bell’s the One inside the final furlong in a runner up finish. She has been working sharply over the main track since her last outing.


This gal is going to be the betting favorite here. She is coming off a solid runner up finish in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint where she was beaten 3/4 of a length by the talented Covfefe and nearly wight lengths clear of the rest of the field in the effort. She earned a career top speed fig and 10 points higher than her previous high. Two have come out of the race to run back, with fourth place finisher Spiced Perfection winning the Go for Wand ‘Cap (G3) at Aqueduct on Dec. 7, earning a Beyer of 90 (she earned an 89 in her BC effort). The Callaghan trainee won her first four starts over the Santa Anita main track including the Santa Anita Oaks (G1) going two turns and the Santa Ynez (G2) at today’s seven furlong distance. She seems likely to regress and that might still be good enough to win here. The price may end up south of her 9-5 morning line.


WIN: #7 to win at 9-2 or better.

EX: 1,7 / 1,5,6,7

TRI: 1,7 / 1,5,6,7 / 1,5,6,7,9



NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll

No. Horse Points
1 Flightline 351
2 Life Is Good 306
3 Olympiad 292
4 Jackie's Warrior 282
5 Clairiere 142
5 Country Grammer 142
7 Epicenter 121
8 Regal Glory 89
9 Nest 87
10 Hot Rod Charlie 48
As of August 1, 2022

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