All will carry 122 pounds in the 1 1/16-mile Oaks. The daughter of Henny Hughes will be making her fifth consecutive start at the Great Race Place, where she most famously went wire to wire in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) Nov. 2 to notch her championship.
This season, the Richard Mandella trainee finished second in the Santa Ynez Stakes (gr. II) before rebounding to take the Las Virgenes Stakes (gr. I) by open lengths over Fiftyshadesofhay. Spendthrift Farm’s Beholder has registered four wins and two runner-up finishes from seven lifetime starts and is the most accomplished runner in the Oaks, having banked $1,395,000 for her career.
Fiftyshadesofhay returns to take another crack at Beholder in the Oaks. The bay daughter of Pulpit scored in the Jan. 26 Santa Ysabel Stakes (gr. III) by daylight before running second to Beholder. She is conditioned by Bob Baffert.
Mandella has a second entrant in the Oaks in Spellbound, who will be making her first start in stakes company. Owned by Claiborne Farm, Adele Dilschneider, and Ramona Bass, the daughter of Bernardini has won two of five lifetime races, including a victory in her most recent trip to the post in a Feb. 24 allowance tilt at Santa Anita. She previously broke her maiden over the strip Jan. 4.
Hronis Racing’s Iotapa is perfect in two lifetime starts but will be facing added-money competition for the first time in the Oaks. The Afleet Alexfilly broke her maiden last June at Betfair Hollywood Park but didn’t return to the races until Feb. 15, when she scored in an allowance/optional claiming event at Santa Anita.
Not to be outdone, Baffert will also saddle two in the Oaks. Black Witch broke her maiden March 14 in her fourth career start and the Mercedes Stables runner is coming right back to face the big girls in the Oaks. Black Witch is a daughter of Majestic Warrior and won over a flat mile last out.
Rounding out the field is Could Be Trouble, a California-bred who is stepping way up in class here. She broke her maiden in a claiming event Feb. 18 and then won a starter allowance race March 15. She also contested the Echo Eddie Stakes against the boys in a Cal-bred event March 30, signaling a quick turnaround here for trainer Peter Miller, who earlier this season sent Comma to the Top to New York to win the Tom Fool Handicap (gr. III) on a week’s rest.
$300,000 Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I, race 5, 2 p.m. PDT), 3yo fillies, 1 1/16 miles (all carry 122 pounds) PP, Horse, Jockey, Trainer 1. Black Witch, Martin Garcia, Bob Baffert
2. Spellbound, Victor Espinoza, Richard Mandella
3. Could Be Trouble, Gary Stevens, Peter Miller
4. Fiftyshadesofhay, Rafael Bejarano, Bob Baffert
5. Iotapa, Joe Talamo, John Sadler
6. Beholder, Garrett Gomez, Richard Mandella