by Najja Thompson
Entering off a victory in the Grade 2 Dancing Smartly at Woodbine, Santa Monica for owners John and Mrs. Magnier, Madaket Stables and Deron Pearson will headline a competitive field of eight in the Grade 2, $200,000 Fasig-Tipton Waya for fillies and mares on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.
One of five stakes races on an action-packed card highlighted by the 91st running of the Grade 1, $1.2 million Whitney, the Waya at 1 ½ miles on the inner turf will join Grade 1, $500,000 Longines Test, the $100,000 Fasig-Tipton Lure and the $100,00 Fasig-Tipton De La Rose.
In the care of two-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown, 5-year-old British-bred Santa Monica began her career in Ireland, making her first 22 career starts in Europe, including a victory in the Group 3 Munster Oaks at Cork as a 4-year-old. She made her North American debut in an allowance race on April 18 at Keeneland at the Waya distance, she bested a field of eight to win by eight lengths.
Making her next start in the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay at Belmont Park, she finished third before winning Dancing Smartly recording a field-high 100 Beyer Speed Figure.
"She's obviously in terrific form," said Brown. "We cut her back effectively in Canada and she did great at a mile and a quarter. She's a very versatile horse and I think she prefers to go this mile and a half distance."
Santa Monica will depart from post 5 with Jose Ortiz aboard.
Also entering for Brown is Homeland Security for owners Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence. A 4-year-old daughter of Smart Strike, she won the River Memories in her most recent start on July 8 at Belmont.
"She's lightly raced and off a layoff I thought showed a lot in her last start winning a mile and a half race," said Brown. "She got a beautiful trip no doubt, but she had the right to get a little tired late and she punched through and got the win. She's an interesting horse moving forward in her form cycle."
Homeland Secruity will be ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr. from the rail.
Trainer Joe Sharp will enter Mom's On Strike for Brad Grady and Carl Moore. The 5-year-old First Dude mare has three wins from five starts this year, including a victory in the Grade 3 Bewitch on April 27 at Keeneland. Last out, she finished
fourth in the Grade 2 New York on June 8 at Belmont.
"She's doing well and training great," said Sharp. "I'm very confident coming into the race as she's as good as I've ever had her. I think she'll appreciate the distance coming out of the New York going a mile and a half. We know we'll need a bit of racing luck, but she's really developed over the year. This winter at Fair grounds, there was really only one series for older mares and we took advantage of that and it showed in the Betwitch at Keenland.
With regular rider Adam Beschizza in the irons, the pair will leave from post 2.
Looking to improve off a second-place finish in her first start of the year in the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay for trainer Graham Motion and owner Jack Swain III is Lottie. A 5-year-old daughter of Arch, she ran second in last year's edition of the Waya.
Rounding out the field is Tricky Escape for trainer Lynn Ashby and owner Jon Marshall; Queen of Connaught for trainer Michael Bell and owner Mrs. Paul Shanahan; Violet Blue for Jimmy Toner and owner Michael Ryan and Summersault for trainer Mark Hennig and owner White Fox Farm.