Switch goes for her third grade I victory of the Santa Anita meet when she faces Always a Princess and five others in the $300,000 Santa Margarita Invitational Stakes (gr. I) March 12.
A 4-year-old daughter of Quiet American trained by John Sadler for Lee and Susan Searing’s C R K Stable, Switch has dominated at seven furlongs this meet with wins in the La Brea (gr. I) and Santa Monica (gr. I) stakes by a combined 7 1/2 lengths.
She will be asked to go an extra quarter-mile this time in the 1 1/8-mile Santa Margarita, a distance she has tried only once. That resulted in a fading fourth-place finish in the Bonnie Miss Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park nearly one year ago.
That was early in her career, just three months after she broke her maiden. Switch returned to beat divisional champion Blind Luck in the Hollywood Oaks (gr. II) at 1 1/16 miles. She would later lose by a half-length to subsequent Horse of the Year Zenyatta in Oak Tree's Lady’s Secret (gr. I) at the same distance at Hollywood Park in October.
Regular rider Joel Rosario will be aboard Switch, who brings a 5-3-2 mark in 12 races and leads the field in earnings with $782,600. Switch breaks from post 4 among seven entered for the Santa Margarita, which is the sixth race on the program with a 3:05 p.m. post. An hour later, Santa Anita hosts the $250,000 San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) for 3-year-olds.
Like Switch, 4-year-old Always a Princess is rolling. After finishing fourth behind her main rival while sprinting in the La Brea, the Bob Baffert trainee stretched out for victories by more than three lengths in both the El Encino Stakes (gr. II) Jan. 16 and the La Canada Stakes (gr. II) one month later. Each time, she left Blind Luck, last year’s 3-year-old filly champion, in her wake.
Garcia, who rode Always a Princess to a front-running victories in the La Canada as well as the Indiana Oaks (gr. II) last year, will be back in the saddle. Owned and bred by Arnold Zetcher, the 4-year-old Leroidesanimaux filly has won five of nine starts and banked $516,048.
Vision In Gold, gate-to-wire winner of the 1 1/16-mile Santa Maria Stakes (gr. II) Feb. 12 for trainer Ron Ellis, figures to be the main pace rival for Always a Princess, though neither filly must have the lead to prevail. Jay Em Ess Stable owns the 4-year-old daughter of Medaglia d'Oro , who will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano for the first time.
Another strong contender is St Trinians, who figures to be tighter after returning from eight months on the shelf to run a close third in the Santa Maria. Joe Talamo rides the 6-year-old British-bred mare who is trained by Mike Mitchell for Daniel Capen and Laura Chavers.
After seven races in England, St Trinians won her first four starts in the U.S. for Mitchell, including the 2010 Santa Maria. She was the 3-1 favorite when facing males in last year's Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I), but wound up a non-threatening sixth to Misremembered after a rough trip. St Trinians subsequently lost by a half-length to Zenyatta in Hollywood Park’s Vanity Handicap (gr. I) before going to the sidelines.
Hemera, who began her career in Russia in 2009, makes her United States stakes debut for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. She has finished in the money in all eight of her starts in Southern California, winning two of them, but all but one of her efforts was on turf.
Miss Match, coming off an allowance win at Golden Gate Fields Jan. 23, and Party With Brando complete the field.
Blind Luck is skipping the Santa Margarita and will instead ship to Oaklawn Park for the March 19 Azeri Stakes (gr. III), the main prep for the Apple Blossam Handicap (gr. I), according to Hollendorfer.
$300,000 Santa Margarita Invitational (gr. I, Race 6, 3:05 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Party With Brando (CA), B Blanc, 118, B Abrams
2. Always a Princess (KY), M Garcia, 120, B Baffert
3. St Trinians (GB), J Talamo, 118, M R Mitchell
4. Switch (KY), J Rosario, 118, J W Sadler
5. Vision in Gold (KY), R Bejarano, 118, R W Ellis
6. Miss Match (ARG), G K Gomez, 118, N D Drysdale
7. Hemera (KY), C S Nakatani, 118, J Hollendorfer