This Saturday sees the running of the premier race of the Indiana Grand race schedule, with the running if the Grade 3 Indiana Derby.
Warren's Veneda Trying to Make the Grade in $200,000 Santa Maria
On Saturday at Santa Anita, the featured race is the 73rd edition of the $200,000 Santa Maria Stakes. Carded at a mile and a sixteenth on the main track, the Grade 2 race has drawn a field of ten fillies and mares.
Warren’s Veneda has been tabbed as the morning line favorite at odds of 5-2 for trainer Craig Lewis. A California-bred daughter of Affirmative, the five-year-old mare has won six of her twenty career starts and was last seen winning the Paseana Stakes in her seasonal debut. She has clocked a bullet workout since that race and is scheduled to break from post position six under regular rider Tyler Baze as she goes for her first graded stakes win.
Tiz Midnight trying to return to winning form
Second choice at 3-1 on the morning line is Tiz Midnight, one of three fillies in the race for trainer Bob Baffert. A five-year-old daughter of Midnight Lute, she is trying to rebound after finishing sixth as the heavy favorite in the Paseana Stakes. Prior to that, she earned her first graded stakes victory in the Bayakoa (G2) in December. She has been on the board in eight of her ten career starts and will have Victor Espinoza aboard from post position three.
Awesome Baby training sharply for first start of the year
Also in the field at morning line odds of 8-1 is Awesome Baby, another contender from the Baffert barn. Purchased for $220,000 as a yearling, the dark bay daughter of Awesome Again has won four of her seven starts including a pair of graded stakes. She was fifth in December in the Kalookan Queen Stakes and has had consecutive bullet workouts in preparation for her first start of the year. Flavien Prat has the mount from post eight.
Players looking to create betting value in the 2016 Preakness May 21 at Pimlico face a familiar dilemma in horse racing: create value underneath the heavy favorite or decide whether the heavy favorite is beatable for the top spot.
On Thursday at Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Derby week festivities will begin with the $100,000 Kentucky Juvenile Stakes. The five-furlong contest has drawn a field of nine two-year-olds.
Likely a top three betting choice in the Kentucky Derby, Santa Anita Derby winner Exaggerator is a bit of a puzzling case as handicappers begin the process of sorting out contenders in the weeks leading up to the big race.