Proud Emma Takes on the Best in La Canada

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By Emily Shields

Older fillies will be on display at Santa Anita Park this January 9 with the $200,000 La Canada Stakes (G3) one of two features for the mares. The 1 1/16-mile contest drew a field of seven, with fierce rivals Fighting Mad and Hard Not to Love duking it out. Want to get in on the action? TVG.com is the best place to bet Santa Anita racing online.

The horse that drew the rail is recent graded stakes winner Proud Emma. Victorious in the Grade 3 Bayakoa at Los Alamitos last out, Proud Emma hails from the Peter Miller barn. She was the dead heat winner of the Tranquility Lake at Del Mar over the summer, along with Message who is also in this race. Juan Hernandez will be aboard the five-year-old mare.

Fighting Mad is the first of the two Bob Baffert runners. The daughter of New Year’s Day – who also sired Maximum Security – is two for three at the distance. Abel Cedillo will be up on the Gary and Wary West runner. She won her first two starts, but really got going in 2020 with wins in the Grade 2 Santa Maria and Grade 1 Clement L. Hirsch. She was most recently third in the Grade 2 Zenyatta Stakes here in September.

Fighting Mad’s stablemate Message drew alongside. The daughter of Warrior’s Reward has run over this course four times, with a first, second, and third to her credit. Jocley Flavien Prat will be back aboard as he was when this filly finished in a dead heat for the win in the Tranquility Lake Stakes at Del Mar, and again when she missed by a half-length in the Bayakoa.

The quirky Hard Not to Love, by Hard Spun, was a force here last year with three straight wins including the Grade 1 La Brea. The half-sister to Wonder Gadot is known for her special antics, such as refusing to be part of the post parade, but she is clearly talented and was Grade 1 placed here over a mile in March. John Shirreffs trains.

There are two former international runners, including Sanenus from the Michael McCarthy barn. The daughter of Scat Daddy was a Grade 1 winner in Chile in 2019, and then ran in their biggest Derby before coming to the United States to run third in a pair of allowances, and then second in the Grade 3 Chilukki at Churchill Downs. Umberto Rispoli will ride.

Never Be Enough (GB) drew on the outside. She was a stakes winner going a mile on the grass at Del Mar, then second, beaten less than a length, in Grade 3 company here on December 27. She has a run her career on turf and synthetic but will be making her first start on dirt.

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