Sunday’s $200,000 Las Virgenes Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park features an exciting match-up between Santa Ynez Stakes (G2) romper Unique Bella and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) champion Champagne Room. Up for grabs is not only first-place purse money but 10 points toward a starting berth in the May 5 Kentucky Oaks (G1).
The Las Virgenes is part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series of points races and offers a total of 17 points – 10 to first, four to second, two to third and one to fourth. With just five fillies entered, only one will go home without any points.
Champagne Room currently sits atop the Kentucky Oaks Leaderboard thanks to a 33-1 upset in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) last November 5. The Peter Eurton pupil earned 20 points for that three-quarter length score, adding it to the one point she garnered when running fourth in the Chandelier Stakes (G1) one race prior.
Champagne Room broke her maiden in the Sorrento Stakes (G2) while making her second career start and also boasts a third-place run in the Del Mar Debutante (G1). Mario Gutierrez has been aboard for all but her Chandelier effort and retains the mount as Champagne Room makes her three-year-old bow in this spot.
Unique Bella burst upon the Kentucky Oaks scene with a stellar 7 1/2-length romp in the Santa Ynez on January 8 for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, which saw her take home 10 points toward a starting berth in the Run for the Lilies. The gray daughter of Tapit closed out her juvenile season with a 10-length maiden victory at Del Mar in late November in her second lifetime start. Regular rider Mike Smith will attempt to guide Unique Bella to a third straight win here.
Mopotism debuted on the Kentucky Oaks Leaderboard with two points after running third in the December 10 Starlet Stakes (G1) at Los Alamitos. The Doug O’Neill trainee was still a maiden at that point and earned her first win 20 days later in a one-mile contest over Santa Anita’s wet-fast track. The Uncle Mo filly brings Flavien Prat along as she tries for a first stakes score.
Miss Southern Miss captured her initial outing last June at Santa Anita and most recently added a 2 1/2-length victory in the Surfer Girl Stakes to her resume. Between those she ran second in both the Sorrento and Landaluce Stakes as well as fifth in the Del Mar Debutante. Kent Desormeaux has the call for his trainer brother Keith Desormeaux.
Mistressofthenight broke her maiden pretty easily last out but that came in her fifth start and she was no factor in the Chandelier last October. The Midnight Lute filly completes the Las Virgenes field.