The winter campaign of the 2023 Santa Anita horse racing season is in full swing. The track, one of the nation’s best, will host the Grade III $200,000 La Canada Stakes on January 15, and Daniel Benjamin has the preview and prediction here.

La Canada Stakes Grade III Preview and Prediction

The La Canada is a one and one-sixteenth-mile race for 4-year-olds and upward fillies and mares. The $200,000 Grade III stakes race is slated to go to post at 6:30 p.m. (ET) with six horses on January 15.

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Five of the six horses earn prize money. First place gets $120,000 and a trophy. Second place gets $40,000, third gets $24,000, fourth gets $12,000, and fifth gets $4,000.

The Entrants

 

PP. 1 Kirstenbosch: The 4-year-old filly has the second-best morning line odds at 5-2. Kirstenbosch finished her first year of racing in 2022, hitting the board in six of nine races and a pair of wins. She closed well to get up for third in the 7-furlong Grade I La Brea Stakes at Santa Anita on December 26.

PP. 2 Angel Nadeshiko: Another four-year-old filly, Angel Nadeshiko also finished her first racing season with two wins and six top 3 finishes in nine starts. This is her first career stakes race though she does have two wins in her last four starts. Angel Nadeshiko, coming off a fifth-place finish in an optional allowance race at Del Mar in early December, is fifth in the morning line odds at 6-1.

PP. 3 Ganadora: The 4-year-old filly won three of five races in 2022, including the one-mile Dark Mirage Stakes at Los Alamitos in September. Both times that she failed to hit the board were in graded stakes, finishing fifth in the Le Bea Stakes the last time out. Ganadora tops the morning line odds at 2-1.

PP. 4 Smoothlikebuttah: The 5-year-old California mare is the most experienced in the field, making her 40th career start. Smoothlikebuttah has improved in each of her previous three years of racing. The biggest long shot in today’s race at 10-1 hit the board in 12 of her 13 races in 2022.

PP. 5 Natural Colour: The 5-year-old Great Britain mare is the most successful of the entrants with five victories, including two stakes victories and nine top 3 finishes in 16 career starts. Four of her wins have come since arriving from across the pond, and she is coming off a second-place finish in the one and one-sixteenth-mile Miss America Stakes at Golden Gate Park on Dec. 11. Natural Colour, who will have Flavien Prat in the saddle for the first time, is 5-1 on the morning line.

PP. 6 Under the Stars: Like Ganadora, Under the Stars is out of trainer Bob Baffert’s barn. Under the Stars is the most experienced and successful of the 4-year-old’s as she has “been in the money” in 70% of her 10 races, including three wins. Tied for the morning line’s second choice at 5-2, she is the only entrant to have a graded stakes victory (2) though the filly is coming off a seventh-place finish in the La Brea Stakes.

Analysis

You can break this race down into three tiers. The top tier consists of both Bob Baffert’s horses. Under the Stars is the top horse in the field; she has been on the Southern California graded stakes circuit over the last year.

Under the Stars has posted two wins and four top-four finishes in those seven events to go along with average winnings of $35,000 per race for his career. She is 1-for-3 at this distance, has been training well, and likes to run at Santa Anita. Under the Stars also gets jockey Juan “JJ” Hernandez, one of the top 3 riders in the SoCal tour, back in the saddle after Prat directed her in the La Brea.

Ganadora has been lightly raced, but she is the speed in the field. Her last workout was encouraging, working five furlongs in a session-best 59.20 (out of 44 horses). Ganadora also has shown versatility between a sprint and a route horse, though she may be better as a sprinter due to her early speed capability.

I would have Kirstenbosch and Angel Nadeshiko in the second tier. While I’m not sure there is much difference between the two, I don’t think they are that close to the two horses in the top tier.

I believe Natural Colour is the third-best horse in the field. However, this is her first foray on the dirt, and she is 0-for-2 at Santa Anita. Smoothlikebuttah is the least classy of horses in the field, but she has shown a clear ability to finish in the money.

Projection: 1. Under the Stars 2. Ganadora 3. Smoothlikebuttah 4.Kirstenbosch 5. Natural Colour 6. Angel Nadeshiko

Best Bets

$2 on Under the Stars across the board.

$2 Exacta box: Under the Stars and Kirstenbosch or Ganadora and Kirstenbosch

 


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