Vasilika, Cambodia Meet Again in Rodeo Drive Stakes
Every year, the $300,000 Rodeo Drive Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita serves as the West Coast’s major prep race for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. I), and this year is no exception, with the 1 ¼-mile race pitting some of the best female turf horses in California against each other in a battle for supremacy.With a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Breeders’ Cup on the line, eight fillies and mares have lined up to contest the Rodeo Drive, including the rising star Vasilika. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, this daughter of Skipshot is a neck away from being unbeaten in eight starts this year, a remarkable achievement considering that she was claimed for $40,000 at the start of the season! Since then, she’s risen steadily through the ranks to become a three-time stakes winner, most recently rallying to a decisive victory in the John C. Mabee Stakes (gr. II) at Del Mar.
But Cambodia, runner-up in the John C. Mabee, is likewise a top-class competitor with a quartet of graded stakes victories under her belt. She’s been particularly effective in California and finished third in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. I) at Del Mar, and while she couldn’t quite match strides with Vasilika late in the John C. Mabee, a different trip on Saturday could help her turn the tables.
Sophie P, fifth in the John C. Mabee, won the Gamely Stakes (gr. I) over this course in May and will try to recapture that winning form while returning to Santa Anita on Saturday. Also looking to rebound from a subpar performance is Paved, who came home sixth in the Del Mar Oaks (gr. I) last month. The three-year-old daughter of Quality Road could show improvement while making the switch back to Santa Anita, where she won the Honeymoon Stakes (gr. II) in June.
The majority of the Rodeo Drive entrants have no experience running 1 ¼ miles, but one notable exception is Queen Blossom, who has run six times at this distance, most notably finishing second in the Possibly Perfect Stakes at Santa Anita two starts back. Her stamina can’t be questioned—she also won the 1 ½-mile Santa Barbara Stakes (gr. III) in April—though she’ll be facing tougher competition on Saturday.
Beau Recall, winner of the Royal Heroine Stakes (gr. II) and fourth in the Gamely behind Sophie P, is another graded stakes winner adding depth to the field. Rounding out the list of entrants are Tisbutadream, a Group 3-placed runner from Europe, and Amboseli, third in the 2017 Yellow Ribbon Handicap (gr. II) at Del Mar.
The Rodeo Drive is the tenth race of the day, with a post time of 4:30 p.m. Pacific.