Santa Maria Stakes (Santa Anita) Predictions, Picks & Betting Odds

Santa Maria Stakes

If you're playing only to win, go with my top pick Ce Ce (3/2)

Santa Maria Stakes Post Position and Odds

Check out our predictions and odds for the Santa Maria Stakes at Santa Anita!

PP Horse Odds Jockey Trainer
2 THIS TEA 15/1
K Desormeaux G Papaprodromou
J J Hernandez C Gaines
4 CE CE 3/2
V Espinoza M McCarthy
M Smith B Baffert

Best Bets for the Santa Maria Stakes

Here are my plays ($30 in total)

$30 Win – Ce Ce = $30

Top Pick:

Ce Ce (3/2)

Fresh off a glorious win with Rombauer in the Preakness Stakes, trainer Michael McCarthy will send out another stable star, Ce Ce, in what could be a virtual match race against the streaking As Time Goes By, as the pair headline a field of five older dirt females entered for Saturday’s Grade 2 Santa Maria Stakes at Santa Anita.

A two-time Grade 1 winner last year, Ce Ce returns to graded stakes racing after scoring an impressive allowance score in her return to the races last month at Santa Anita. The 5-year-old daughter of Elusive Quality started last season off big with three strong victories, including a romping win in the Grade 1 Beholder Mile at Santa Anita, before tailing off a bit in the later stages of the season.

Chief among her rivals, and the expected favorite, is the Bob Baffert trained As Time Goes By. The 4-year-old daughter of American Pharoah went right to the front as a big favorite in last month’s Grade 2 Santa Margarita at Santa Anita and cantered down the lane on her way to a 9 ¼ length romp. Before that, the lightly raced and highly regarded filly was second to the champion Swiss Skydiver in this year’s Beholder Mile.

Of the rest, Last First Kiss has already been scratched, leaving only Miss Stormy D and This Tea to round out the compact field for the 1 1/16-mile event carded for race 2 on Saturday.

How to Watch the Santa Maria Stakes

Santa Maria Stakes Information
What Santa Maria Stakes (Grade 2)
Location Santa Anita
Time Saturday, May 22 — 4:35 PM ET
How to Watch TVG
Purse $200,000


Race Analysis

As Time Goes By

Despite the proven class of her main rival, this one should be a strong favorite coming off such an authoritative victory in her most recent start. Keep in mind, that was only her sixth-lifetime start, so it could be that the daughter of the Triple Crown-winning champion American Pharoah is maturing into something special.

Look for her to go with the same game plan as her Santa Margarita score, as she is very likely to go right to the front in this short field. Her speed is an advantage, but I do suspect that Miss Stormy D will not allow too easy of an early lead for her. That could be the advantage Ce Ce needs to stalk and pounce. She is a deserving favorite and a big threat, but I like her only second best as the favorite.

Ce Ce

The first half of last year, this talented filly looked primed and ready to make a real run at an Eclipse Award but lost her last four, including the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff. At her best, I believe the daughter of Elusive Quality can beat just about any female in the country, but there have been times where she has not always come with her best.

The good news for Saturday’s race is that after a long freshening, she looked outstanding in her return when rolling right on by her competition in a 7-furlong allowance race last month. I believe she is primed and ready to once again show that she is one of the top mares in the land. She’ll need to run down the talented favorite, but if she is sharp like I expect, she can stay in touch early and make her move on the turn. It won’t be easy, but she is my top pick.

Miss Stormy D

This one has been knocking heads with the big girls of late, without much success. Two starts back, she finished well beaten behind Swiss Skydiver and As Time Goes By in the Beholder Mile, and last time she was no match for Ce Ce in that one’s return. Unlike the other longshot in the field, she does have some tactical speed to be involved early, but has never yet shown the talent to beat the likes of Ce Ce and As Time Goes By. One of the favorites would have to be off their game for her to do better than third, but perhaps she can help set the table for Ce Ce by putting some early pressure on the favorite.

This Tea

On the bright side, this daughter of Curlin was able to pass all the rest to finish second in the Santa Margarita, but of course, she was a long way behind the winner, As Time Goes By. Only once a winner in 12-lifetime starts, that performance at odds of 31/1 was the best of her career. Perhaps she is starting to develop and improve to a point where she can threaten in this company. Still, she will need to step it up even more if she has any hope of worrying the top two on Saturday.

Last First Kiss

Has been scratched from the race.

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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]