Irish-Breds Plein Air, Pantsonfire Clash In Marathon Santa Barbara

Irish-bred Plein Air will hope to replicate her dazzling U.S. debut on Jan. 14 as she heads a field of six fillies and mares in Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 Santa Barbara Stakes at a mile and one half over the Santa Anita turf.

Trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Tyler Baze, Plein Air made every pole a winning one in the mile and one half turf Astra Stakes and will likely employ similar tactics in her second Santa Anita start.

Prominent among five rivals is fellow Irish-bred Pantsonfire, who is one of three Richard Baltas-trained distaffers in the Santa Barbara.  A winner of two out of her last three starts here with the recently departed Rajiv Maragh aboard, she’ll be ridden on Saturday by Corey Nakatani.

Owner:  Sunny Brook Stables, LLC; Trainer:  Bob Baffert

With a sharp resume that included seven wins from 10 starts in Italy, Plein Air, although she was dispatched at 7-1, was ridden confidently by Baze in the Astra as he rationed her considerable speed to perfection in prevailing by three quarters of a length over the well-accomplished Evo Campo, and by 2 ½ lengths over stablemate Lucy De.  A 5-year-old mare who had been raced exclusively in Italy, Plein Air is an impressive 11-8-1-1 overall with earnings of $155,272.

Owner:  Next Wave Racing, Pat Maciariello, Jeremy Peskoff and Mark Silverstein; Trainer:  Richard Baltas

Winless in four starts in her native Ireland, this 4-year-old filly has come to hand under the care of Baltas, winning three of her eight Southern California starts, including two out of her last three.  Off as the 2-1 favorite in a second condition allowance at a mile and one eighth on turf here April 7, Pantsonfire split horses a furlong out en route to an impressive head victory, which should set her up well for a top performance in the Santa Barbara.  Nakatani, who finished second with her in her U.S. debut on July 27 at Del Mar, was also aboard for a heartbreak nose defeat five starts back on Nov. 19 at Del Mar.  Look for her to be rolling late in her first try at a mile and one half on Saturday.

Race 4 of 11. Approximate post time 1:30 p.m. PT 

  1. Lucy De—Kent Desormeaux—122
  2. Pantsonfire—Corey Nakatani—122
  3. Queen Blossom—Flavien Prat—122
  4. Causeforcommotion—Geovanni Franco—122
  5. Space Cadet—Franklin Ceballos—122
  6. Plein Air—Tyler Baze—122

First post time for an 11-race card on Saturday is at 12 noon.  Admission gates will open at 10 a.m.  For entries and additional racing information, please visit

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