Race of the Week: La Canada at Santa Anita | Sunday, January 15, 2023

The Lead:
With a forecast of serious rain this weekend, Santa Anita opted on Wednesday to card 8 races all on the main track for Saturday. Then cancelled the Saturday card outright, and moved many of those contests to Sunday. The featured $200,000 Grade 3 La Canada landed in Race 7 and remains 1-1/16 miles on the main for the distaff division. For fans of the new Coast-to-Coast Pick 5, note that Santa Anita's Races 3 and 5 on Sunday will be used in that wager.

​Field Depth:  
Grade 2 winner UNDER THE STARS owns the 2-best wins in this field, namely the 2022 Santa Ynez and Summertime Oaks. KIRSTENBOSCH is Grade 1-placed, while GANDORA and NATURAL COLOUR are listed stakes winners. No question UNDER THE STARS has consistently kept the best company lines in this 6-runner field.

Rail-drawn GANADORA likely battles on the lead with class-rising ANGEL NADESHIKO, while UNDER THE STARS figures to be close-up. The pace looks fair to average for this type of race.

Our Eyes:
Here are my horse-by-horse notes:

UNDER THE STARS: Inconsistent filly through 10 starts with as many wins (3) as races she's been beaten 10+ lengths (3). She's riding a 3-race losing streak that includes 2 of those distant defeats. Quick turn-around of 20 days since running last in the La Brea, and note she hasn't performed well on quicker turn-arounds in the past. Vulnerable at a shorter price.

GANADORA: Bob Baffert stablemate of UNDER THE STARS, she set the La Brea pace and faded to fifth in that one. She's never been asked to return this quickly in her career on 20 days' rest. Worked in company with her stablemate January 9 at Santa Anita, and the XBTV video isn't as impressive as the bullet designation and time indicate. They picked up another worker in that move, a maiden, and both were out-finished by that non-descript sort. Another vulernable at a shorter price.

KIRSTENBOSCH: Those 31-1 when third in the La Brea vs. the aforementioned pair, this could be the one worth following. Midnight Lute filly has worked twice during the interim 20 days vs. once for the Baffert pair, a positive sign. Plus, she won at Del Mar last summer on just 15 days' rest. John Sadler trainee may thrive more on the work assignment.

SMOOTHLIKEBUTTAH: Late-running, underneath sort has 21 second and third-place finishes in 35 races career with only 2 wins. Honest-enough mare on the class rise is about as consistent as they come.

ANGEL NADESHIKO: Just 1-for-7 in routes and that came wire-to-wire, so the question is if she'll pass anyone going long? Probably not quick enough to get in front of two Bafferts unless she's just gunned, and that sacrifices here chances of staying the 1-1/16 miles. No lead, no pass is a difficult forecast.

NATURAL COLOUR: Wildcard from Golden Gate has made 2 unsuccessful turf trips to Santa Anita and now tries dirt. Pedigree doubtful to help on this surface, but being outside in field of 6 does alleviate some of the kickback issues that turf and synthetic horses often struggle with on dirt. Luring Flavien Prat to ride is a feather in the cap.

Most Certain Exotics Contender:
KIRSTENBOSCH looks to be sitting on a good race.

Best Longshot Exotics Contender:
SMOOTHLIKEBUTTAH probably won't take a lot of money against stakes runners, but is reliable to compete for a bottom share of the exotics.

Sending it in ($100 bankroll):

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