SATURDAY, MAY 30 – Laura’s Light Leads Solid Field of Sophomore Fillies in the Grade III Honeymoon Stakes
ARCADIA, Calif. – In what appears to be an outstanding betting race, Gary Barber’s well-accomplished Laura’s Light heads a solid field of nine sophomore fillies going a mile and one eighth on turf in Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 Honeymoon Stakes at Santa Anita. Hronis Racing’s Stela Star, a big second in her U.S. debut here on March 7 and LNJ Foxwoods’ speedy Parkour both figure to provide stiff competition in the race named for movie mogul Louis B. Mayer’s brilliant California-bred filly Honeymoon, who won seven stakes in California in 1946.
Owner: Gary Barber
Trainer: Peter Miller
Favored in four out of her five starts and a two-time Santa Anita turf stakes winner, this filly by Constitution was attentive to the pace en route to a three quarter length win in the Grade III Sweet Life Stakes going 5 ½ furlongs on turf her two starts back on Feb. 16 as the heavy 2-5 favorite. Subsequently well beaten at 4-5 in a one mile ungraded stakes over a synthetic surface at Turfway Park on March 14, she’ll ship in to run on Saturday from her San Luis Rey Downs Training Center base. A 3 ¼ length winner of the one mile turf Blue Norther Stakes three starts back on Dec. 29, Laura’s Light has three wins from five starts and looms the horse to beat in the Honeymoon.
Owner: Hronis Racing, LLC
Trainer: John Sadler
A Group III winner of a seven furlong turf stakes two starts back in her native Ireland, Stela Star ran a tremendous race in defeat in her U.S. debut, rallying from far back to finish second, beaten a half length by multiple stakes winner Warren’s Showtime in the one mile turf China Doll Stakes here on March 7. She has continued to train well on Santa Anita’s inner dirt training track and with leading man Flavien Prat taking over on Saturday, look for Stela Star to run huge in her second start for Sadler.
Owner: LNJ Foxwoods
Trainer: Richard Mandella
A Kentucky-bred filly by Carpe Diem, she exits a runaway 3 ¼ length allowance win going a mile on turf here March 20 when ridden for the first time by Mike Smith, who will rider her back on Saturday. Fourth, beaten 3 ¾ lengths by Laura’s Light two starts back in the one mile turf Blue Norther on Dec. 29, she was an impressive gate to wire maiden winner going one mile on the Del Mar turf three starts back on Dec. 1. Winless in her first two races sprinting on dirt this past fall, Parkour has now won two out of her three tries on grass and will hope to slow the pace down on Saturday as she stretches out an eighth of a mile.
The Grade III Honeymoon
Race 7 of 9 Approximate post time 3:30 p.m. PT (6:60 p.m. ET)
Post, horse, jockey, weight
1. Guitty–Brice Blanc–120
2. K P Dreamin–Victor Espinoza–120
3. Fashion Royalty–Jose Valdivia, Jr.–120
4. Croughavouke–Umberto Rispoli–120
5. Laura’s Light–Abel Cedillo–122
6. Little Bird–Mario Gutierrez–120
7. Red Lark–Drayden Van Dyke–120
8. Parkour–Mike Smith–120
9. Stela Star–Flavien Prat–120
SUNDAY, MAY 31 – Ce Ce Seeks Fourth Consecutive Win in the Grade II Santa Maria
Currently poised as a potential superstar on the rise, Bo Hirsch’s homebred Ce Ce heads a field of five fillies and mares three and up going a mile and one sixteenth in Sunday’s Grade II, $200,000 Santa Maria Stakes at Santa Anita.
Trained by Michael McCarthy, Ce Ce, a 4-year-old daughter of Elusive Quality out of Hirsch’s Grade I stakes winning Miss Houdini, Ce Ce has won all three of her 2020 starts, the most recent being a head victory in the Grade I Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park April 18.
A well beaten second as the 3-5 favorite in her lone confrontation with Ce Ce here in the Grade I Beholder Mile on March 14, the John Shirreffs-trained Hard Not to Love will try to turn the tables as she seeks her sixth win from eight overall starts.
Bob Baffert’s Fighting Mad makes her second start off a layoff Sunday and should appreciate stretching out off a solid effort in the Grade III Desert Stormer Stakes at six furlongs May 17.
Owner: Bo Hirsch
Trainer: Michael McCarthy
Immensely talented, she was sidelined following a fourth place finish in the Grade I Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park on June 8, 2019, and did not resurface until romping to a 4 ¼ length allowance score going 6 ½ furlongs at odds of 1-2 here on Feb. 17. Off at 4-1 in the Grade I Beholder Mile, she stalked Hard Not to Love early and took charge a quarter mile from home in a totally dominant 3 ¼ length victory. Pressed late by highly regarded Ollie’s Candy, she prevailed by a head at odds of 7-2 in the Grade I Apple Blossom April 18, a win that further validated McCarthy’s long-held belief that Ce Ce may indeed be something quite special. With an overall mark of 6-4-1-0, she has three wins from four tries at Santa Anita and has been ridden in all of her races by Victor Espinoza.
HARD NOT TO LOVE
Owner: Mercedes Stables, LLC & West Point Thoroughbreds
Trainer: John Shirreffs
Although no match for Ce Ce in the Beholder Mile, there’s no doubting Hard Not to Love is a filly of considerable quality. With her success a true testament to the horsemanship of both Shirreffs and regular rider Mike Smith, this 4-year-old filly has had to overcome extreme anxiety, which is believed caused by the fact she lost the sight in her left eye due a paddock mishap as a youngster. With consecutive win in the Grade I La Brea and Grade II Santa Monica Stakes to here credit, Hard Not to Love, in her first try around two turns, was seeking her fourth consecutive win in the Beholder Mile on March 14. Quite often a handful in the mornings and on game day, Hard Not to Love could be a little more settled as she goes to the Santa Maria gate on Sunday, as there will be no public admitted.
Owner: Gary and Mary West
Trainer: Bob Baffert
A 4-year-old daughter of New Years’s Day, she was bred in Kentucky by her owners and is out of the Forestry mare Smokey’s Love. In her first try around two turns, Fighting Mad led throughout and registered an eight length score as the 2-1 favorite in the Grade III, one mile Torrey Pines Stakes at Del Mar Aug. 17. Sidelined following that, she was head and head to the top of the lane in the Grade III Desert Stormer on May 17, a race in which she tired to finish third, beaten 3 ¼ lengths by multiple graded winner Bellafina and was subsequently disqualified to fourth for interference. With three wins from six starts, she’ll be ridden for the first time by Abel Cedillo.
The Grade III Santa Maria
Race 7 of 8 Approximate post time 3:30 p.m. PT (6:30 p.m. ET)
Post, horse, jockey, weight
1. Hard Not to Love–Mike Smith–122
2. Ce Ce–Victor Espinoza–126
3. Fighting Mad–Abel Cedillo–124
4. Horologist–Flavien Prat–124
5. Kaydetre–Brice Blanc–122
First post time for a nine-race card on Saturday is at 12:30 p.m. Fans can wager via 1stBet.com or through Xpressbet.com. For additional information, please visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.
Edited Santa Anita Press Release
Photos: Laura’s Light. Credit: Benoit Photos
Ce Ce wins the Beholder Mile at Santa Anita. Credit: Benoit Photos