Faiza winning the San Ysabel March 5. (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)
• Winner To Get 100 Ky Oaks Qualifying Points
• Race Is One Of Six Stakes On 12-Race Runhappy Santa Anita Derby Day Card, 1st Post Is At 12 Noon;
Santa Anita Press Box
ARCADIA, Calif.— Heavily favored and unbeaten in all four of her starts, Bob Baffert’s Faiza heads a field of nine sophomore fillies going a mile and one sixteenth in Saturday’s Grade II, $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks on Saturday. One of six stakes on a 12-race Runhappy Santa Anita Derby Day program, the Oaks will be contested for the 84th time on Saturday.
With 200 qualifying points at stake to the Grade I Kentucky Oaks May 5 at Churchill Downs, the winner will receive 100 points with 40, 30, 20 and 10 points awarded to the remaining top five finishers, with Faiza the lone exception as Baffert trainees are not currently eligible to run at Churchill.
A gutty half-length winner of the Grade III Las Virgenes Stakes going one mile here on Jan. 28, Faizamade short work of four rivals going a mile and one sixteenth in the Grade III Santa Ysabel March 5, pressing the early pace and drawing off to win the 2 ¼ lengths while earning an 81 Beyer Speed Figure.
Owned by Michael Lund Petersen, Faiza, who is by Girvin out of the Smart Strike mare Sweet Pistol, was sold for $725,000 at a 2-year-old in training sale one year ago and has amassed earnings of $402,000. She’ll be ridden back by Flavien Prat.
Second to Faiza in the Santa Ysabel, Peter Miller’s And Tell Me Nolies finished eighth, beaten seven lengths two starts back in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Keenland Nov. 4 and figures to be the second choice in the Oaks wagering Saturday.
Prior to shipping to Kentucky And Tell Me Nolies had won Santa Anita’s Grade II Chandelier by three quarters of a length on Oct. 8, and in her third career start, she rallied to win the Grade I Del Mar Debutante Sept. 10.
Owned by Peter Redekop, B.C Ltd, And Tell Me Nolies is by Arrogate out of the Exchange Rate mare Be Fair. Off at 8-1 in the Chandelier and 9-1 in the Del Mar Debutante And Tell Me Nolies has never been favored in any of her six previous starts. With three wins and a second, she has earnings of $392,800.
Although she has but a first-out maiden win sprinting, trainer Michael McCarthy’s Clearly Unhinged earned an Oaks-best last out Beyer Speed Figure of 89 while taking her six furlong maiden assignment in gate to wire fashion on Feb. 5 by 3 ¼ lengths.
With Juan Hernandez riding for the first time, Clearly Unhinged could have the talent to spring an upset on Saturday. Owned and bred in Kentucky by Rock Brothers Racing and Breeding, LLC, Clearly Unhinged is by Into Mischief and is out of the Smart Strike mare Smart Win.
An even sixth in her one mile turf debut Nov. 13 at Del Mar, Richard Mandella’s Window Shopping took control of a one mile dirt maiden special affair heading to the far turn here on March 17 and smoked home to score by 16 ½ lengths while earning a solid 75 Beyer.
With Flavien Prat opting to stick with Faiza, Hector Berrios will try his hand for the first time aboard the daughter of American Pharoah. Owned by Perry R. Bass and Ramona Bass, Window Shopping, who is out of the Tapit mare Delightful Joy, sold as $700,000 Keeneland September Yearling.
Mandella will also saddle the Bass’s homebred first-out winner Venganza, who aired going six furlongs here on March 11 by 4 ¼ lengths at odds of 1-20. A daughter of Curlin from the War Front mare Avenge, Venganza was also ridden by Prat and will be handled on Saturday by Mike Smith.
First post time for a 12-race card on Saturday is at 12 noon with admission gates opening at 10 a.m.