In Saturday’s Rodeo Drive Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita, Avenge will be looking to do something that no horse has ever done before — win consecutive editions of the race. Several have tried, but all have failed. Run at 1¼ miles, the Rodeo Drive will serve as a “Win and You’re In” event for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
Owned by Ramona Bass LLC and trained by Richard Mandella, Avenge will be making just her third start this year. In her seasonal debut, the daughter of War Front set the pace in the Gamely Stakes (G1) before being overhauled late by the pair of Lady Eli and Goodyearforroses. She then went to Del Mar and finished sixth in the Yellow Ribbon Handicap (G2) after setting a modest pace. On form, it looks like she’ll need to improve to repeat in the race, but she is coming in with several very good works since the Yellow Ribbon.
It should also be noted that after her win in the race last year, Avenge went on to finish third in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf behind Queen’s Trust and Lady Eli.
Her main rival appears to be the Richard Baltas-trained Goodyearforroses, who is owned by Abondaza Racing LLC and Medallion Racing. The Irish-bred daughter of Azamour began her career in Canada under the care of Roger Attfield, but has been a different horse since she was purchased by her current owners and sent to California.
She won her first three races for her new connections, coasting to easy wins in the Robert J Frankel Stakes, the Astra II Stakes, and the Santa Ana Stakes (G2). Those wins gave Baltas the confidence to send the mare to Kentucky for the Jenny Wiley Stakes (G2), where she finished fifth, beaten just 1¾ lengths by none other than Lady Eli.
Back on her home turf, she faced Lady Eli again in the Gamely Stakes (G1) and finished second — this time, beaten just half a length. In her most recent outing, Goodyearforroses checked in second in the John C. Mabee Stakes, three parts of a length behind Cambodia.
Also likely to be formidable in Saturday’s race is Decked Out.
Decked Out is owned by Gene Voss, Big Chief Racing LLC and Head of Plains Partners LLC and will be making just her second start of the year. One of the most consistent runners in the 3-year-old turf filly division last year, Decked Out was just a head short of winning the Del Mar Oaks (G1) the previous summer, but avenged that loss when she won the American Oaks (G1) on Dec. 31. After that race, Desormeaux decided to give the filly some much deserved time off.
In her first and only start this year, the daughter of Street Boss finished fifth, beaten five lengths in the John Mabee. It is likely she needed the race and she did incur some serious trouble at the eighth pole, giving her plenty of room to improve this time around.
Brazilian Grade I winner Kiss Me Now, multiple graded stakes winner Goldy Espony, Grade I-placed Beau Recall, multiple stakes winners Majestic Heat and Resposibleforlove, stakes winner Frenzified and the allowance winner Amboseli round out the field.
Carded as the ninth race on the program, approximate post time for the $300,000 Rodeo Drive Stakes is 4:34 pm PT.