The Buena Vista Stakes at Santa Anita is arguably the best Grade 2 race for fillies and mares in the United States. There’s buzz in horse racing circles that these stakes could eventually rise from Grade 2 to Grade 1 – and if that ever happens it will be because of Thoroughbreds like Jolie Olimpica.
The Brazilian phenom will make her case Saturday on a mile of turf, running against 11 other fillies and mares ages 4 and older. Unbeaten in four races as the favorite — including a 1 ¾-length victory and impressive 101 Beyer Speed Figure in the 5 ½-furlong Las Cienegas Stakes last month — Jolie Olimpica is the 8/5 morning-line favorite for this weekend’s race.
“She’s been working well,” trainer Richard Mandella told OG News. “We hope we can do as well going a mile.” With the ageless and dependable Mike Smith in the irons, he’s sure to find out.
Jolie Olimpica to Be Tested
Challenging the daughter of Drosselmeyer is a deep field of contenders. In the gates against her will be Grade 1 winner Lady Prancealot, Grade 3 winner Carressa, and two horses who hit the board in stakes races: La Sardane and Mucho Unusual. This depth of talent lends itself to enticing betting opportunities.
Those opportunities may start with Lady Prancelot (5/1), a 4-year-old, filly from Ireland who won her last two starts. She took the American Oaks last December and, before that, the Grade 3 Valley View Stakes at Keeneland in October. She has one win and three seconds at distances of a mile, and has regular jockey Joe Bravo aboard.
Carressa (4/1) also has victories in her last two starts, and has won three of her last six. She took the Grade 3 Megahertz Stakes at Santa Anita and an allowance on dirt two starts ago at Del Mar. The 4-year-old filly won that race by 8¼ lengths. Victor Espinoza will ride the John Shirreffs trainee on Saturday,
Others to consider in your exotics include 6-year-old La Sardane or 4-year-old Mucho Unusual. La Sardane (12/1) is a 6-year-old, French-bred mare who won three of her first four starts for trainer Neil Drysdale, including a win at Belmont Park in June 2018. She is winless in her last seven starts, however. And in her last race, the Megahertz, Carressa beat her by one length.
Mucho Unusual (8/1) is the lone California horse in the field. Don’t discount the 4-year-old daughter of Mucho Macho Man, winner of the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic, as an upset contender.
Mucho Unusual won the San Clemente Stakes at Del Mar in July, and finished just a half-length behind Lady Prancelot in the American Oaks. Plus, she has Santa Anita’s leading rider at this meet, with Joel Rosario aboard.