The Grade 3, $200,000 La Canada Stakes at Santa Anita Park drew a field of eight led by multiple graded stakes winner Spiced Perfection. The mare comes off a win in the Grade 3 Go for Wand Handicap last month in New York and two races prior to that won the Grade 1 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes in Kentucky, both one turn races. In her 20 race career, Spiced Perfection has raced two turns on dirt just twice, finishing second each time. Queen Bee to You just won at the distance of the La Canada when victorious in the Grade 3 Bayakoa Stakes at Los Alamitos Race Course so seems to fit nicely with these. Zusha finished second in the Bayakoa and hopes to improve off that effort. Horologist returns from nearly three months away from the races but is another with credentials at this level, having won the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks last summer. Starr of Quality won the state-bred restricted Dream of Summer Stakes over the track in June but is winless in two races since returning from a three-month rest. Der Lu and Message are newly turned 4-year-old fillies from the red-hot Bob Baffert barn. Both are coming into the race off multi-length wins and are seeking their first stakes victories, as is Kaydetre.
Der Lu gets the ground-saving rail and is on an improving pattern of Equibase Speed Figures which bodes very well for her chances to post the mild upset in this race. She won in her debut in August of 2018 when sprinting six and a half furlongs, then not only stretched out to two turns but moved from the maiden ranks to stakes for the Chandelier Stakes but only managed fourth. Sent to the sidelines for nine months, Der Lu ran poorly in her first two starts as a 3-year-old last year, finishing fourth in a dirt sprint then fifth in a turf route. However, when put in a dirt route last October, Der Lu came through with flying colors to win by nearly five lengths, earning a career-best 100 figure in the process. In that race, Der Lu relaxed in third for the first half-mile, about two lengths off a very fast pace. However, in the La Canada I believe jockey Drayden Van Dyke will use the rail position to his advantage and that should mean Der Lu can successfully play "come catch me" with the field.
Horologist won four races in a row last spring and summer, culminating with victory in the Monmouth Oaks at the distance of the La Canada. After a third-place effort in the much tougher Cotillion Stakes in September, Horologist was shortened up to seven furlongs for the Raven Run Stakes and ran poorly to be ninth of 10. However, noting the Monmouth Oaks was her first start after more than two months off and noting she is returning from a little over two months off for the La Canada, Horologist may be capable of firing a big shot good enough to win, particularly as the 101 figure earned in the Monmouth Oaks is on par with the figure Der Lu earned in her most recent race. Jockey Joe Bravo comes in from the east to ride and was in the saddle for the first three of those four straight wins last year, another sign this filly is a strong contender in this race.
Queen Bee to You enters the race off a two-race winning streak, first in the Betty Grable Stakes at seven furlongs then in the Bayakoa Stakes at the distance of the La Canada. Having earned 109 and 107 figures, respectively, in those two races, Queen Bee to You stands out here if none of the others improve. If there is a question about her ability to win this race, it's that her career record over the Santa Anita main track is 1-3-3 in nine races. However, in her current form, Queen Bee to You would be no surprise winning the La Canada Stakes.
As stated earlier, Spiced Perfection has the best overall stakes credentials in the race, having won the Madison Stakes (with a career-best 101 figure) last spring and the Go for Wand last month. However, both those races were run around one turn, at distances of seven furlongs and one mile, respectively. The last time Spiced Perfection raced around two turns was in the Melair Stakes in June 2018, a race in which she was second and a head behind the leader at the top of the stretch and ended up second, a half-length behind the leader at the finish. Similarly, in the Soviet Problem Stakes in late 2017, Spiced Perfection was in front by a head in the stretch and ended up second, beaten three-quarters of a length.
The rest of the field, with their best representative Equibase Speed Figures, is Kaydetre (95), Message (93), Starr of Quality (99), and Zusha (102).
Queen Bee to You