Affluent faces a small but quality-laden field Saturday as she seeks to become just the third filly to sweep Santa Anita's La Canada series of three stakes races for 4-year-old fillies. The daughter of Affirmed has already notched wins in the grade I La Brea Stakes and the grade II El Encino. Only Taisez Vous, in 1978, and Mitterand, in 1985, have accomplished the sweep.
Trained by Ron McAnally and owned by Janis Whitham, the homebred boasts the same connections as did her granddam, two-time champion Bayakoa. Affluent comes into the $200,000 La Canada (gr. II) with six wins from 12 lifetime starts and earnings of $842,800. She has a three-race winning streak, and is proven over both dirt and turf, having won the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (gr. I) on grass at Keeneland at the La Canada distance of nine furlongs.
Affluent will once again face Royally Chosen, who has played the role of bridesmaid in both the El Encino and La Brea. Royally Chosen engaged in a furious stretch duel three weeks ago in the El Encino, in what has been the race of the meeting thus far at Santa Anita. Pinned in at the rail, Affluent called on her considerable class to nose past Royally Chosen on the wire. Royally Chosen, by In Excess, will receive four pounds from her foe. She is conditioned by Bruce Headley.
Adding spice to the mix is New York shipper Summer Colony, coming off a win in her initial stakes try, the grade III Ladies Handicap at Aqueduct in December. The daughter of Summer Squall, conditioned by Mark Hennig and owned by Edward P. Evans, is riding a five-race winning streak, including her maiden-breaker at Saratoga in August by a stunning 32 3/4 lengths. Summer Colony has won five of 11 outings.
Undefeated Azeri will likely be no better than fourth-choice, offering considerable value. The daughter of Jade Hunter, bred by the late Allen Paulson and owned by his living trust, has won by daylight in all three of her races, and steps up into stakes company for the first time. Ask Me No Secrets, by Seattle Slew, comes in with two wins from three starts, and Sea Reel, by Sea Hero, returns off a third in the El Encino.
The field for the La Canada, in post position order with jockeys and weights:
Royally Chosen (Alex Solis, 115)
Ask Me No Secrets (Chris McCarron, 115)
Affluent (Eddie Delahoussaye, 119)
Azeri (Mike Smith, 115)
Summer Colony (Gary Stevens, 119)
Sea Reel (Garrett Gomez, 115)