Grade 1 heroine Dream Tree is the one to beat in Sunday’s $200,000 Las Virgenes Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park as she puts her perfect three-for-three mark on the line.
The Bob Baffert filly is part of a six-strong field entered in the one-mile affair, which is part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series of points contests and awards 10-4-2-1 points toward a starting berth in the May 4 Kentucky Oaks (G1).
Dream Tree broke her maiden by a nose last October at Santa Anita, then shipped to Del Mar to take the Desi Arnaz Stakes by that same margin three weeks later. The Uncle Mo filly closed out her juvenile campaign with a 3 1/4-length victory in the Starlet Stakes (G1) at Los Alamitos on December 9. She returns to Santa Anita for her sophomore bow in this spot, and keeps regular rider Drayden Van Dyke in the irons.
Steph Being Steph surprised last out when second in the Santa Ynez Stakes (G2) at 25-1. The Brian Koriner pupil broke her maiden at Los Alamitos in her second try last September and was runner-up at 10-1 in the Anoakia Stakes next out at Santa Anita. She captured the Golden Gate Debutante prior to the Santa Ynez, and stretches out past seven furlongs for the first time here. Stewart Elliott has the call on the Majestic Warrior filly.
She’s No Drama tried to lead all the way home in the Golden Gate Debutante as the even-money favorite, but was just caught by Steph Being Steph on the wire. Prior to that, the Jeff Bonde-conditioned daughter of Big Drama was a 6 1/2-length, wire-to-wire winner in an allowance/optional claimer at Golden Gate Fields. Kyle Frey takes the reins for the first time on the chestnut miss in this spot.
Exuberance broke her maiden by 6 1/2 lengths over track and distance on October 13, one race after running third by a length Barretts Debutante and one race before a fourth-placing in the Starlet. The Ian Kruljac trainee gets a jockey change to Corey Nakatani while taking on Dream Tree for the second straight time.
Thirteen Squared took four tries to break her maiden, but did so easily by 6 3/4 lengths when stretching out to a mile on December 7 at Los Alamitos. The Baffert charge will attempt to carry that form forward while facing winners for the first time under Tyler Baze.
Completing the field is Holy Diver, who has been well-beaten every time she’s faced stakes rivals.