By Emily Shields
The fifth race on a banner card at Santa Anita Saturday is the $200,000 Santa Anita Oaks (G2), an important stepping stone to the 2020 Longinges Kentucky Oaks (G1). Watch TVG every day for live coverage of the racing at Santa Anita.
Trainer Bob Baffert has two in the field, with Regal Beauty leading the pair after a May 17 win here around a mile. Under Abel Cedillo, who will be back aboard for this, Regal Beauty won by 3 ¼ lengths at 11-1. The daughter of Malibu Moon was second here January 26 on her debut, beaten just a head.
The other runner is the $600,000 American Pharoah daughter Merneith. Highly touted before her debut, she finished second sprinting on January 20, then ran second by a nose over a mile February 23. She finally got it done cutting back to six furlongs in the slop at Oaklawn Park, romping by more than ten lengths. She has had five solid workouts since that April 19 race, including a 1:01.3 move here May 31.
Swiss Skydiver is shipping in from Kentucky, where she has been training at Churchill Downs. The daughter of Daredevil won the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) in March before adding the May 1 Fantasy (G3) at Oaklawn Park. She was slated to head overseas but travel logistics is forcing her to stay in the States. Trainer Ken McPeek circled the Santa Anita Oaks, as the filly has won two of three starts over the 1 1/16-mile distance, and can clearly take her show on the road. Mike Smith will ride.
Speech was second behind the Baffert-trained Gamine in an allowance event at Oaklawn on May 2. She ran the favored filly to a neck, and trainer Michael McCarthy gave her a bullet May 23 over five panels in :59 flat. Flavien Prat will be aboard the daughter of Mr Speaker.
Evening Jewel Stakes winner Smiling Shirlee, a California-bred by Smiling Tiger, rounds out the field. Jeff Bonde trains and Ruben Fuentes will ride the filly, who is on a two-race win streak over the course.
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