Gary A. Tanaka's Star Parade will face a solid field of nine other fillies and mares in Saturday's $300,000 Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap (gr. I), but that's nothing new for the 7-year-old mare.
Carrying 118 pounds in the nine-furlong Santa Margarita after her upset win over Proposed in the 1 1/16-mile Santa Maria Handicap (gr. I) Feb. 11, Star Parade has faced grade I or II company in her last 18 starts. The Argentine-bred's record in those races is 5 wins, 3 seconds and 4 thirds for trainer Darrell Vienna.
Saturday's race promises more of the same for Star Parade, who faces a rematch with Proposed. Her Santa Margarita competition includes 120-pound high weight and fellow millionaire Dream of Summer, who defeated Star Parade by a neck last year in Oaklawn Park's Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I). Another familiar foe is Healthy Addiction, a half-length winner over Star Parade in last fall's Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) during Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting.
Star Parade defeated Proposed by two lengths in the Santa Maria and can join a distinguished list of Santa Maria/Santa Margarita winners that includes fellow Argentine-breds Paseana and Bayakoa, both Eclipse Award winners.
Martin Pedroza, who was aboard for Star Parade's Santa Maria victory as well as her win in Hollywood Park's Dec. 11 Bayakoa Handicap (gr. II) when defeating Dream of Summer by four lengths, has the return call. It will be the 40-year-old journeyman jockey's first ride in the Santa Margarita since 1996.
James Weigel's 7-year-old California-bred Dream of Summer has been a model of consistency in her 19-race career, compiling earnings of $1,131,150 from a lifetime record of 10-3-3. By comparison, Star Parade has banked $1,085,419 from an 8-7-4 mark with 29 career starts, which includes one win in seven starts to begin her career in her native country.
Dream of Summer returns from Florida where she ran third to House of Fortune as the favorite in the Sunshine Millions Distaff. Alex Solis, who has never ridden the gray/roan mare, will take over the reins on Saturday for trainer Juan Garcia.
Patrick Valenzuela, who has reached the winner's circle in two of the past three Santa Margarita runnings, will be back on Proposed while attempting to atone for their setback in the Santa Maria at 17-10 odds. Proposed previously won the El Encino Stakes (gr. II) by 2 ½ lengths for her first graded victory. The 4-year-old California-bred filly, owned and bred by Martin and Pam Wygod, shows a record of 5-2-2 in 10 races for earnings of $327,200.$300,000 Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap (gr. I, Race 8, 4 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Dream of Summer (CA), 120, Alex O. Solis
2. Seafree (KY), 115, Victor Espinoza
3. Healthy Addiction (KY), 116, Jon K. Court
4. Santa Candida (ARG), 112, Omar A. Berrio
5. Star Parade (ARG), 118, Martin A. Pedroza
6. Play Ballado (KY), 114, Tyler Baze
7. Hollywood Story (KY), 116, Garrett K. Gomez
8. Bending Strings (KY), 116, Corey S. Nakatani
9. Proposed (CA), 117, Patrick A. Valenzuela
10. Awesome Lady (KY), 112, Matt S. Garcia