La Brea Stakes (Santa Anita): Midnight Memories Looks for Her First Grade 1 Victory

Written by: Brian Zipse
Updated December 23, 2022
7 min read

La Brea Stakes Odds and Post Position

Check out our predictions and odds for the La Brea Stakes at Santa Anita Park!










F Prat

B Baffert





T Gaffalione

R Rodriguez





J Velazquez

B Baffert





R Vasquez

B Baffert





J Rosario

P D’Amato





J J Hernandez

B Baffert





K Kimura

J Sadler





M Gutierrez

D O’Neill

*Odds provided by author Brian Zipse.

La Brea Stakes Predictions and Best Bets

Here are my plays ($60 in total)

$5 Exacta Part Wheel - Hot Peppers and Fun to Dream over Midnight Memories, Under the Stars, Ganadora and Awake at Midnyte = $40

$10 Exacta Box - Hot Peppers and Fun to Dream = $20

If you're playing only to win, go with my top pick Hot Peppers (8/1).    

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La Brea Stakes Predictions

A graded stakes winner in each of her two most recent starts, Midnight Memories looks for her first Grade 1 victory as she tops a quartet of talented runners from trainer Bob Baffert in the La Brea Stakes on opening day at Santa Anita.

When last seen, the daughter of Mastery came home an impressive 3 1/4- length winner of the Grade 2 Zenyatta Stakes in early October. A month before that she was victorious in the Grade 3 Torrey Pines Stakes at Del Mar.

Overall, she is a winner of 4-of-5 career races. She is far from the only talented filly from her powerhouse barn, though.

The remaining three trained by Baffert in the 7-furlong La Brea will all have a chance to upset their favored stablemate.

The most experienced of the group is Under the Stars who ran a solid second to the champion Ce Ce in the Grade II Chillingworth Stakes last out. 

A two-time graded stakes winner, the daughter of Pioneerof the Nile won the Grade 2 Santa Ynez at seven furlongs to begin the year.

Ganadora was a $1 million yearling purchase and has won 3-of-4 overall. The Quality Road filly comes into Monday’s test off an 8-length win in a listed stakes race at Los Alamitos in her last.

A winner of 4-of-5 lifetime, the Californian-bred Fun to Dream is the final of Baffert’s big four, but is also the most recent stakes winner. 

The gray Arrogate filly closed resolutely to score a hard-earned win in the 7-furlong Betty Grable stakes last month at Del Mar.

La Brea Stakes Predictions and Race Analysis

Midnight Memories

The first of the Baffert contingent, this daughter of Mastery has done little wrong in five career starts with four wins and a third. 

After getting run off her feat three starts ago by the very fast older mare Slammed three starts ago, she stretched out to a mile and then 8 ½ furlongs in winning the Grade 3 Torrey Pines at Del Mar and then the Grade 2 Zenyatta Stakes at Santa Anita. 

Off those last two efforts, she is a deserving favorite as she looks for her first Grade 1 victory. She very well could prove best here at seven furlongs, but as the favorite, I think it’s very reasonable to take a shot against her as she cuts back to a sprint.

Under the Stars

Probably the most battle tested filly in the field, this Pioneerof the Nile filly has run in six consecutive graded stakes races since breaking her maiden last December. The Baffert runner has won twice in graded company and both of those wins came at Santa Anita. 

She has thrown in a couple of dull efforts, including a thrashing by Midnight Memories two starts ago at Del Mar, but at her best she fits with these. 

The last was more like it as she ran a good second behind the champion Ce Ce in her return to sprinting. She is not my top pick, but she is impossible to ignore here as a major threat.

Fun to Dream

This California-bred daughter of Arrogate will be tested for class on Monday. A winner of 4-of-5 for the Baffert stable, she has only had one horse finish ahead of and that was Awake to Midnyte three starts ago. 

I think she has only gotten better since and this race, with plenty of early pace should set up for her rally. She also clearly likes the tricky 7-furlong distance. 

Having dug down deep for her stakes win last month, she not only comes in with great form, but also should be battle tested for this difficult race. It’s a little hard to separate them all, but of the four Baffert runners, she might be the one with the most to like.


The fourth Baffert in the race has the potential to be the best of the bunch, but her story is still very much untold. An expensive yearling purchase, she has so far only made it to the starting gate four times while having her races pretty well spread out. 

While that is concerning, she has won three and her last was her best yet, winning off for fun in a listed stakes race at Los Alamitos. 

This field is considerably tougher than that win 3 1/2-months ago, and I’m not sure she will make the lead here early. The talent is there, but I do like a few others better on Monday. Having said that, she is dangerous.

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Awake at Midnyte

This Nyquist filly had some trouble last time and backed right out of the race in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff. 

Those mares were a little too good for her, but now she returns in a race where she can compete on a class level. She also returns to one-turn racing, where she generally has done well so far in her career. 

I don’t like the drubbing she took last time at Keeneland, but she is eligible to bounce back at a track and distance that suit her. She is in with a shot in this wide-open affair.

Hot Peppers

This shipper from the East Coast has had a freshening since fading to fourth behind the talented Wicked Halo in the Grade 2 Prioress nearly four months ago. 

Before that the Rudy Rodriguez-trained speedster had run several good races, including a win in the Grade 3 Victory Ride at Belmont and a runner-up run in the Grade 1 Test at Saratoga. Having been tested for class in New York, she should fit right in with this group in California. 

She looks like the quickest horse in the race, and after the freshening, she should be ready to flaunt her early speed. This is not an easy spot, but I think she has a real shot to take this field wire-to-wire. Offering solid value here, she is the top pick.

Ain’t Easy

This Phil D’Amato-trained filly won the Grade 1 Chandelier at Santa Anita nearly 15 months ago but has been unable to win since. 

After a pair of poor performances this spring and summer, she was given some time off and returned to the races last month at Del Mar. She did show a good tactical speed that day and was beaten just over a length in a quick turf allowance.

It was a decent return, but not enough to have me believe that she can beat this bunch. Perhaps part of the early pace, I like others better down the stretch.


This Midnight Lute filly comes in off a second-best effort in the Zia Park Oaks as a heavy favorite. Things are likely to only get tougher for her on Monday. 

Bouncing back between turf and dirt, her only career win on the main track came in allowance company at Del Mar three starts back. In her only previous attempt in graded stakes racing, she came back well beaten by Under the Stars in the Summertime Oaks. 

She has finished first or second in five of eight career starts, but she looks to be a cut below this level.

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How to Watch the La Brea Stakes

La Brea Stakes Race Information

  • What: La Brea Stakes (Grade 1)

  • Location: Santa Anita

  • Time: Monday, December 26 -- 5:35 pm Eastern time

  • How to Watch: FanDuel TV

  • Purse: $300,000

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Brian Zipse

Horse Racing Betting Analyst

Horse Racing
Betting Picks
Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.
Nationality: American
Education: Bachelor of Communications
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