La Canada Stakes (Santa Anita) Predictions, Odds & Picks

La Canada Stakes Santa Anita 2021

If you're playing only to win, go with my top pick Hard Not to Love (7/2)

Post Position and Odds – La Canada Stakes

Check out our predictions and odds for the 2021 La Canada Stakes at Santa Anita!

PP Horse Odds Jockey Trainer
J Hernandez P Miller
R Gonzalez J Shirreffs
A Cedillo B Baffert
F Prat B Baffert
U Rispoli M McCarthy
M Smith C Gaines
T Pereira M Badilla

Best Bets for the La Canada Stakes

Here are my plays ($40 in total)

$10 Exacta part wheel – Hard Not to Love over Fighting Mad, Message and Sanenus = $30

Top Pick:

Hard Not to Love (7/2)

Fighting Mad, away from the races since finishing third in the Grade 2 Zenyatta on September 27, looks to return to her winning ways as she headlines a field of seven older females set for Saturday’s Grade 3 La Canada Stakes at Santa Anita.

Trained by Bob Baffert, the daughter of New Year’s Day will look to carry her impressive speed for as far as it will carry her in the 1 1/16 mile affair, as she seeks to improve upon a 5-for-9 lifetime record, which includes three graded stakes victories.

Chief among her opponents will be a familiar foe in Hard Not to Love. A 5-year-old daughter of Hard Spun, the winner of two consecutive graded stakes races last winter at Santa Anita will look to regain her best form after four consecutive losses. Like Fighting Mad, she will be making her first start in better than three months.

Of the rest, Proud Emma and Message should both receive plenty of interest from bettors after battling to a 1-2 finish in last month’s Grade 3 Bayakoa Stakes at Los Alamitos on December 6.

How to Watch the La Canada Stakes

La Canada Stakes Information
What La Canada Stakes (Grade 3)
Where Santa Anita
When Saturday, January 9 — 6:30 pm Eastern time
How to Watch TVG
Purse $200,000

Race Analysis

Fighting Mad

Beaten as the heavy favorite last time in late September, Fighting Mad returns to the races hoping to regain the excellent form which saw her score back-to-back front-running victories in the Grade 2 Santa Maria and the Grade 1 Clement Hirsch in the heart of 2020. In her first race in 3 ½ months, she will likely find plenty of pace pressure as the one to beat. She will also renew her rivalry with Hard Not to Love, whom she has beaten in 2-of-3 meetings. As the favorite, and not likely to have any breathers on the lead, I will try to beat her on Saturday.

Hard Not to Love

A big talent for trainer John Shirreffs, she, unfortunately, does not always run her very best. When she does, she has proven talented enough to be a real handful. A Grade 1 winner over the track, she only needs to prove that she can kick it in down the stretch at the 8 ½ furlong distance. After two losses behind the favorite, she was able to turn the tables last time when finishing a rallying second in the Grade 2 Zenyatta on the same trip as she will see on Saturday. A repeat of that performance could well be good enough, as the early speed softens up before the real running begins. She is the top pick.

Proud Emma

This one enters the La Canada off a career-best victory in the Grade 3 Bayakoa Stakes at Los Alamitos last time. A winner of a 6-of-16 lifetime, she will get plenty of paces to run at but still needs to prove she can run with the best older females in Southern California. If you like her, it would be hard to throw out the “other” Baffert in the field, as well, as she has locked horns with Message in a pair of tough battles. She is certainly a threat, but I do like a few others better.


Besides the favorite, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert will also be well represented by this daughter of Warrior’s Reward who also comes in off career-best form. She failed in this race last year, but off a dead heat for the win with Proud Emma two starts back in the Tranquility Lake, and then a solid second to her in the Bayakoa, she appears to be a threat on Saturday. Not as class proved as her stablemate, this will be her chance to prove that she can compete with the big girls.


Bred and raced in Chile, this daughter of Scat Daddy was very successful in her native land, before coming to the US. She has yet to break through here but has been improving with each of her three starts. She now returns to Southern California after a solid runner-up run in the Grade 3 Chilukki Stakes at Churchill Downs in November. With good tactical speed to sit behind the leader, and now fully accustomed to American racing, she looks to be a very interesting upset chance in La Canada.

Miss Stormy D

She was an impressive winner of a mile allowance winner at Santa Anita early in 2020, but then was not seen for much of the year, before resurfacing in the Bayakoa last time. She showed plenty of speed that afternoon but backed out without much fight. For her second start of the layoff she gets Mike Smith in the saddle but now faces an even tougher assignment. Most likely one who will pressure the early pace, I cannot recommend her chances to stick around against this bunch.

Never Be Enough

This English import has yet to try to dirt but has been rounding into career-best form. In her last, she ran a very good race to rally for second as a big longshot in the Grade 3 Frankel late last year. She looks to be a longshot again on Saturday, but if she takes to dirt, she could make some noise. Hard to know what exactly to expect, but even with a liking to the new surface, she might not be good enough to beat the best of La Canada.

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Brian Zipse

Expert on Horse Racing

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.

Email: [email protected]