Vale Dori, Finest City match up in Santa Margarita

Eight distaffers will do battle in the Grade I, $400,000 Santa Margarita Stakes at Santa Anita this Saturday. Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint winner #3 FINEST CITY (8-5, morning-line favorite) and multiple stakes winner #2 VALE DORI (9-5) are among the participants in this 1 1/8th-mile dirt heat. Post time for the Santa Margarita, the ninth of 10 races on the program, is 4:30 p.m. EST. Be sure to take part in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!

VALE DORI will be my top selection. She’s won her last four races, three of which were stakes, with ease. This is a sterner test than what she’s faced lately, but FINEST CITY is no sure thing going this far. VALE DORI is proven at the distance and has Rafael Bejarano riding for Bob Baffert, so she gets the call.

FINEST CITY is the only one with speed figures in the same ballpark as VALE DORI, but she’s earned them in sprints. Her latest try going long on dirt was last June’s Vanity Mile, in which she ran a decent third behind Beholder and Stellar Wind. FINEST CITY ran second in her lone try at this distance, but it occurred on turf. Tyler Baze will have to carve out a perfect trip and hope his mount can get the distance.

#7 WILD AT HEART and #4 SHOW STEALER are no strangers to settling for minor awards. They’ve mixed it up behind VALE DORI in the Bayakoa and La Canada, with WILD AT HEART taking the worst of it on a ‘good’ surface in the latter stake. WILD AT HEART’s win in last month’s Buena Vista suggests she’s in good form, and she’ll have Flavien Prat aboard. SHOW STEALER, who’s completed the exacta under VALE DORI two times running, retains Kent Desormeaux.

The play: $10 exacta 2/3

DFJ analysis: Meet leaders Flavien Prat and Tyler Baze look well-positioned to succeed on Saturday. Prat rides in six races, with 6-1 WILD AT HEART his longest shot of the day.

Baze has eight mounts on the card and could potentially sweep both stakes. He rides favored Enola Gray in the Irish O’Brien and FINEST CITY in the Santa Margarita.

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