Hard Not to Love captured the 2020 Santa Monica Stakes by more than 3 lengths and will defend her title in the Grade 2 race on Saturday at Santa Anita.
The one-eyed mare will turn back to a sprint distance for the first time since her back-to-back scores going 7 furlongs in the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes in December 2019 and the Santa Monica in February 2020. She is the 7-to-2 morning-line favorite.
Juan Hernandez will ride her for the first time Saturday, starting from post four in a field of 12 that includes Fair Maiden, the upset La Brea winner on December 26.
“Hard Not to Love is doing great,” trainer John Shirreffs said. “She is training very well for this race. The jock knows her and has worked her in the mornings.”
Hard Not to Love will complete a quartet of stakes runners for West Point on Saturday, joining Room to Finish, Turned Aside, and O Besos, who are all set for action on Risen Star Day at Fair Grounds.
Hard Not to Love winning the the 2020 Santa Monica: