A field of nine horses, led by defending champion Adored, goes to the post today in the $300,000 Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap, Santa Anita’s distaff championship.
The Grade 1 test at 1 1/8 miles on the main track will be worth $180,000 to the winner.
Adored, trained by Laz Barrera, comes off a victory in the Santa Maria Handicap Feb. 2, and is unbeaten in five races at Santa Anita. The 5-year-old daughter of Seattle Slew and Desiree seeks to become only the fourth double-winner in the 48-year history of the race. Tizna in 1974-75, Curious Clover in 1964-65 and Our Betters in 1956-57 are the only horses to have won the Santa Margarita twice.
Adored will be ridden by Laffit Pincay--a five-time Santa Margarita winner--and will carry high-weight of 126 pounds, the highest impost of her career. Adored, third in Eclipse Award balloting for older filly or mare in 1984, has won 10 of 20 starts and has earned $761,127.
The Santa Margarita field, in order of post position, with jockey and weight: Percipient, Sandy Hawley, 116 pounds; Clear as Crystal, Darrel McHargue, 112; Salt Spring, Bill Shoemaker, 115; Dontstop Themusic, Terry Lipham, 121; Capichi, Ray Sibille, 117; Lovlier Linda, Chris McCarron, 119; Adored, Pincay, 126; Estrapade, Fernando Toro, 123, and Mitterand, Eddie Delahoussaye, 123.
Trainer Randy Winick will saddle both Mitterand and Dontstop Themusic, two leading contenders. Mitterand swept the La Canada series. The 4-year-old filly has won six of 10 starts. Owners Arnold Winick and Ross Gilbert sold a half-interest in the filly to Irving and Marge Cowan last week. Dontstop Themusic, who finished a half-length behind Adored in the Santa Maria, won the Manta and Silver Belles handicaps last fall.
Turf star Estrapade, a 5-year-old French import, will make her first start on dirt for trainer Charlie Whittingham. The Vaguely Noble mare finished third in the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon Invitational Stakes last fall at Oak Tree in her United States debut. Jockey Toro has won the Santa Margarita three times, including last year on Adored.