Kaleem Shah’s Eden’s Moon, wire-to-wire winner of the Las Virgenes Stakes (G1) last time out, is the odds-on favorite in today’s 73rd running of the Santa Anita Oaks (G1).
The daughter of Malibu Moon has won her last two starts in authoritative fashion. She broke her maiden by 11 ½ lengths and ran away from her rivals last time to win by 3 ¼ lengths.
Eden’s Moon is among the leading contenders for the Kentucky Oaks (G1), along with unbeaten stablemate Princess Arabella and East Coast-based Grace Hall. Martin Garcia returns in the saddle for trainer Bob Baffert.
Reneesgotzip was actually favored over Eden’s Moon in the Las Virgenes. The daughter of City Zip did not have the best of trips in that one-mile race. She drifted wide in the first turn and bumped with Eden’s Moon in the stretch. She failed to match strides with the winner in the late stages. Jockey Garrett Gomez is slated to ride today for trainer Peter Miller. Gomez replaces Corey Nakatani, who is riding in Dubai.
The most experienced runner in the field is Willa B Awesome. The California-bred daughter of Awesome Gambler has started 11 times in her career. She won the Santa Ysabel Stakes (G3) earlier in the Santa Anita meet and most recently finished fourth in the Las Virgenes.
Last Saturday on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track, jockey Martin Pedroza worked Willa B Awesome five furlongs in 59.40 for trainer Walther Solis.
“I worked her and she worked really well,” Pedroza said. “Actually, it was probably the best work she’s had since I’ve been working her.”
With Eden’s Moon and Reneesgotzip expected to show early lick, Pedroza sees a pace-stalking trip for his mount.
“She doesn’t have to be on the lead. If they go, I can be right behind them,” Pedroza said.
The Santa Anita Oaks is the fourth race on today’s card.
Eden’s Moon/Benoit photo