Santa Anita: Betting a straight exacta in the Las Cienegas Stakes

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

January 7th, 2021

Although there are several promising up-and-comers entered in Saturday’s $100,000 Las Cienegas (G3) at Santa Anita, a couple established graded stakes winners look tough to defeat.

Back in May, #7 Jolie Olimpica and #6 Oleksandra finished just a half-length apart in the 5 1/2-furlong Monrovia (G2) at Santa Anita.

Both turned in eye-catching performances. Jolie Olimpica tracked fast fractions of :21.40 and :43.48 and forged to victory, while Oleksandra gained six lengths through the final furlong to just miss.

Many bettors will expect Jolie Olimpica to maintain her edge on Saturday. A Group 1 winner in her native Brazil, Jolie Olimpica won the 2020 Las Cienegas and has also shown talent over longer trips. She finished second in the 1-mile Buena Vista (G2) and the 1 1/16-mile Jenny Wiley (G1), behind Grade 1 winners Keeper Of the Stars and Rushing Fall, respectively.

But Jolie Olimpica hasn’t run since July. It’s also important to note the 2021 Las Cienegas will take place over 6 furlongs, up from 5 1/2 furlongs last year, and this distance shift could play to the strengths of Oleksandra.

A daughter of Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Animal Kingdom, Oleksandra boasts three wins from four starts at 6 furlongs. Following her runner-up effort in the Monrovia, Oleksandra replicated her powerful stretch kick to win the 6-furlong Jaipur (G1) against males at Belmont Park.

Oleksandra took the summer off and returned to action in a tough renewal of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) at Keeneland, where she encountered a damp course and finished ninth. Easier company, over firm turf in the Las Cienegas, should help Oleksandra bounce back with a peak effort under jockey Joel Rosario, who has gone 8-fo-37 (22%) to start the Santa Anita meet.

Boxing Jolie Olimpica and Oleksandra in the exacta seems like a safe bet, though not one geared toward a maximum return on investment. Rather than hedge, let’s play the ticket straight, with Oleksandra over Jolie Olimpica. For good measure, we’ll toss in a small trifecta, with #4 Lighthouse and #5 Superstition for third place.

$25 exacta: 6 with 7
$2.50 trifecta: 6 with 7 with 4,5 ($5)
Total: $30

Good luck!