Breeders’ Cup winner Ce Ce faces a Baffert pair in the Santa Monica

Photo: Carolyn Simancik/Breeders’ Cup/Eclipse Sportswire

Fresh off the biggest win of her career, the Bo Hirsch homebred Ce Ce heads a field of five older fillies and mares going seven furlongs in Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Santa Monica Stakes at Santa Anita.

A handy 2 ½ length winner of the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint going seven panels at Del Mar Nov. 6, Ce Ce will be bidding for her third consecutive graded stakes win in what will be her first start at age six on Saturday.

With five wins from eight starts at Santa Anita, Ce Ce, who is by Elusive Quality and is out of Hirsch’s Grade 1 stakes winning Miss Houdini, by Belong to Me, is a three-time Grade 1 winner who has earnings of $1,753,100 from an overall mark of 16-8-1-3.

Trained by Michael McCarthy, Ce Ce enjoyed a tremendous year at age five, winning four out of her six starts while banking $888,000. She’ll again be ridden by Victor Espinoza, who has been aboard for all but two of her career starts.

Bob Baffert will be represented by a pair of distaffers, recent Grade 1 winner Kalypso and Merneith, who ran a big second in the ungraded Kalookan Queen at 6 ½ furlongs Jan. 2 following a nearly one year absence. A winner of last year’s Santa Monica, Merneith, a 5-year-old mare by American Pharoah, will be ridden for the third consecutive time by Edwin Maldonado, who was aboard for last year’s Santa Monica score.

Owned by HRH Prince Sultan Bin Mishal Al Saud, Merneith, who will hope to improve with a recent race to her credit, is 11-4-4-2 overall with earnings of $373,620.

A 4 ¾ length winner of the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes at seven furlongs Dec. 26, Kalypso will nonetheless be facing tougher competition as she’ll be competing against older distaffs for the first time. Owned by Rockingham Ranch, David Bernsen, Littlefield, et al, Kalypso, a 4-year-old daughter of Brody’s Cause, has won two of her three starts, including last year’s Grade II Santa Ynez Stakes at seven furlongs. With an overall mark of 9-3-3-2 and earnings of $480,600, she’ll be ridden back by John Velazquez.

Hronis Racing’s Park Avenue, who had a two-game winning streak snapped when a well beaten second in the Grade III La Canada Stakes going a mile and one sixteenth on Jan. 1, will shorten up out of five consecutive routes in what will be her second stakes engagement.

Trained by John Sadler, Park Avenue, a 4-year-old filly by Quality Road, will be ridden for the third consecutive time by Juan Hernandez.

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