Following promising two-year-old campaigns, a field of eleven will try to start their three-year-old season off on the right foot with a Grade II win in the the Yanta Snez Stakes. The race will be contested at 7 furlongs over a fast main track at California on Saturday.
(1) OUT OF PROPORTION (owner xpansion3, 14/1) and jockey J White will try to get to the front early after leaving from the pole position. She has made the early lead in each of her 6 career starts and has held on to win 3 of them, including an overnight stakes win last time out at Colorado. That being said, all of her wins have come at either 5 or 5.5 furlongs. In the other 3 starts, which have been at longer distances, she faded at the end. In her only other graded start back in June, she faded to sixth in a 6.5 furlong Grade II event. She has had a nice start to her career, and very well may set the pace in here, but I suspect she’ll struggle to hold with this talented bunch by the end as she stretches out again.
(2) FRONTLINE STORM (owner ihate2yos, 5/1) had a very impressive 2-year-old season (despite the owner’s name) and comes into this race with a Group II win and three straight in-the-money finishes in G1 events from September through December. All of her graded success, though, has come on the turf, as this will be only her third start on dirt. In her opening race last January, she finished second, but then finished eighth in a Grade II late in the spring. That graded race was on a sloppy track, so I’m willing to give her a pass in that one. Given her recent success (including a second in the BB Juvy Turf), I’m a little surprised to see her in this spot. Even so, her pedigree suggests that she should like the dirt, so this may be worth a shot. Top sim jockey T Ace won’t hurt, either.
(3) SILICONE VALLEY (owner dankmemes, 9/1) broke her maiden in her first start back in July, and has been racing in allowance races since, all against non-winners of two lifetime. She has hit the board in each of her 5 starts, but it did take 4 races to get past the NW2L condition. This daughter of Sky Mesa takes a pretty sizable up in class on Saturday to the Grade II level, but the recent SP numbers show that she is not far off of the top horses in this field. I wouldn’t be shocked if she’s close in the end, but I want to see a race at this level first.
(4) HEATHER’S DREAM (owner genesis2017, 18/1) will try to turn it around in this race, following a three-race losing streak that has included a ninth, eighth and sixth-place finish. Two of those were in graded events, and the last two were both in routes. She cuts back in distance on Saturday, which I think is a good move since she has fared better in shorter races. Looking over the recent results and SP numbers, though, it’s hard to see how she could be very competitive given how difficult this race has drawn.
(5) GIANT’S INDY (owner stablechampion8, 7/1) is making just the third start of her career, coming off an eighth-place finish in the Grade II Golden Red Stakes in late November. In the race before that, which was only 12 days earlier, she finished a good second in a maiden race with a solid 87 SP number. Owner stablechampion8 didn’t want to waste any more time taking this well-bred filly (Giant’s Causeway x Mr. Prospector x A.P. Indy) to higher levels. She’s had about six weeks off, so the chance to freshen may really help her chances here. She has a pedigree that suggests distance, so I’ll be interested to see what the turn back does Saturday. Certainly can’t rule her out.
(6) FRONT FOREVER (owner eastcoastbread, 9/1) has yet to lose, and will enter stakes company for the first time today. She has been facing allowance company in Kentucky, and leaves the Bluegrass State for the first time to enjoy the warm California sun. That last line is impressive – after a three-month layoff, she came back to beat non-winners of three lifetime by 1 1/2 lengths with an SP of 80. This move up makes sense, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she keeps the winning streak going. These hot allowance horses can sometimes take another step up an seamlessly transition into graded stakes, and you get a nice price here at 9/1.
(7) MOMMA SCAT (owner arnoldedwards, 7/2) is the opposite of the #5 and #6, with 13 starts already under her belt. She put up an eye-opening 100 SP number last time out in the Grade III Reflection Futurity at Ontario a few weeks ago. The California-bred comes home for the first time after doing quite the tour around North America. In her four graded stakes races, she has 2 wins and a second, all in Grade III races. She turns back in distance today, racing in a sprint for the first time since the summer. She’s had more success over the longer distances, but she should fare pretty well at 7 furlongs against this group.
(8) TAP THE DOOR (owner greg218, 10/1) is a daughter of Tapit, and after spinning her wheels a couple of times in her first few months of racing, is coming off of two nice starts. In addition, she’s been stationed here in California since September, so she has the home court advantage, so to speak. Her first start in California ended in a disappointing seventh-place finish, but she went on to win a NW3L next time out and won an ungraded stakes race last month. She stretches out here to 7 furlongs from 6 and the first time she ran 7 furlongs in July, she faded to fourth. However, she had an early speed running style back then. Now she likes to come from the back of the pack. She certainly could be in contention.
(9) LADY AT MIDNIGHT (owner dkstables9, 7/1) has also been in California for a few months, but is coming out of the Breeders’ Bowl Juvenile Filly back in November, where she finished a decent sixth, only 4 1/4 lengths back. She should like the cut back in distance, as she finished a solid second in the 7-furlong Getaway Stakes at New York back in September. In fact, she has never finished worse than second in a sprint race, which includes a Group II win at Dubai in July. Washington-based jockey L Radzinski travels down the coast to get the mount for the first time, sporting a 26% win percentage over the past 3 months. If she runs her best on Saturday, I think she ends up in the money.
(10) JEZEBEL JET (owner super 8, 17/1) will go off as the second-highest price in the field, and is definitely taking a step up in class from what she’s been facing recently. She is coming out of a turf race at Florida where she was entered above her conditions in a NW6L, but managed to finish a very good second in that race. The horse that won that race just ran a solid second in her most recent start this past Saturday, running second in an open allowance. JEZEBEL JET has yet to finish out of the money in five career starts and is out of the stakes-winning mare DAVIDOFF. Even so, she’s never faced a field like this, and I’m a little skeptical that she’ll be able to keep up by the end.
(11) SLICK POWER (owner coolk3, 9/2) has not finished worse than second in 7 starts. After progressing through the allowance ranks during her two-year-campaign, she won by open lengths in an open allowance race in November as well as an overnight stakes at Oklahoma last month. You would think this daughter of Mastercraftsman (IRE) would prefer turf at first glance, but Unbridled’s Song and Seattle Slew show up further down the bloodline, and she is out of G1-winning mare EXTENDED POWER, who earned over $2.5 million on the dirt. I really like her recent form and think she is poised for a nice race. In my eyes, she’s the one to beat.
(11) SLICK POWER, 9/2 – Coming off two really nice races, I think she’ll be ready for the step up to graded-stakes company. She has yet to meet a step up that she couldn’t handle.
(6) FRONT FOREVER, 9/1 – Hasn’t lost yet, and has been progressing nicely through the allowance ranks. I think her running style will fit well here.
(9) LADY AT MIDNIGHT, 7/1 – That sixth last time out in the Breeders’ Bowl Juvenile Filly wasn’t a bad effort. That second in a Grade I at 7 furlongs three back makes me think she contends here.
(7) MOMMA SCAT, 7/2 – That 100 SP number from last time out catches the eye, but I’m not sure she can repeat that. I’ll opt for some of the lighter-raced horses.
Good luck to all!