Navigating the La Brea Stakes: Private Mission’s Strategy for Pace Disaster

The Highly Anticipated Grade 1 La Brea Stakes at Santa Anita Park

The Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Del Mar was the stage for an exhilarating showdown between Private Mission and Letruska, leaving spectators allured by the thrilling, high-paced action. Now, as the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes at Santa Anita Park approaches, fans eagerly await to see if Private Mission has absorbed the lessons from her previous encounter and will emerge stronger than ever.

A Quest for Redemption: Private Mission and Flavien Prat

Private Mission, guided by jockey Flavien Prat, seeks to reclaim the glory of her triumphant performance in the Grade 2 Zenyatta just two starts ago. Together, they stand as the formidable morning-line favorites at odds of 8/5 for the upcoming La Brea Stakes at Santa Anita Park.

Private Mission and Flavien Prat seek a return to trips like this victorious one in the Grade 2 Zenyatta two starts ago.

A Day Filled With High-Stakes Races

The La Brea Stakes is among the stellar lineup of three Grade 1 races and six other exciting stakes on Santa Anita’s traditional Boxing Day opening day card. This thrilling seven-furlong race will see Private Mission and other talented 3-year-old fillies vying for both Grade 1 glory and a substantial chunk of the $300,000 purse.

The Rise and Fall of Private Mission

Private Mission, the offspring of the renowned Into Mischief, entered the racing scene as a formidable force, clinching three consecutive victories with impressive Equibase Speed Figures consistently in the high 90s. Among these wins were the Grade 3 Torrey Pines at Del Mar, where she dominated her rivals by a staggering 6 ½ lengths, and the Grade 2 Zenyatta at Santa Anita, where she triumphed by 2 ¼ lengths.

Private Mission wins the Grade 2 Zenyatta at Santa Anita.

A Challenging Test at the Breeders’ Cup Distaff

However, the highly anticipated Breeders’ Cup Distaff brought forth a turning point in Private Mission’s journey. In an explosive display of speed, Private Mission, along with Letruska, Horologist, and As Time Goes By, transformed the race’s opening half into a breathtaking frenzy reminiscent of the Bonneville Salt Flats. The quartet unleashed remarkable fractions, with Private Mission leading the charge with a blistering 21.84 seconds for the first quarter-mile and 44.97 seconds for the half-mile.

Unsurprisingly, such a relentless pace took its toll, resulting in a disappointing 11th-place finish for Private Mission, a staggering 37 ¼ lengths behind the surprising victor, Marche Lorraine. It became evident that the speed duel had drained the energy reserves of these brilliant fillies, as they finished in 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th place among the 11-horse field.

Private Mission and Letruska engaging in a speed duel at the Breeders' Cup Distaff.

The Journey to Redemption

Now, Private Mission embarks on a mission of redemption, returning to a seven-furlong distance in her quest to reclaim her formidable form. However, the road to victory won’t be an easy one, as competitors like Livingmybestlife aim to test Private Mission’s resolve not to succumb to another pace meltdown.

Livingmybestlife: A Challenger on the Rise

Trained by the esteemed John Sadler, Livingmybestlife enters the La Brea Stakes with a string of ungraded stakes victories under her belt. Notable among these wins are the November Seashell Stakes at Del Mar and the September Lucky Spell at Los Alamitos. As she steps onto the graded-stakes stage, Livingmybestlife will face the challenge of maintaining her impressive 4-2-0 record in seven starts, demonstrating her ability to navigate the deeper waters.

Missy P: A Lightly Raced Contender

Missy P, trained by Richard Mandella, presents an intriguing contender in the La Brea Stakes. With only three races in her career, the daughter of The Big Beast is undoubtedly “lightly raced.” Following a dominant 9 ½-length victory in a maiden special weight field, she secured a commendable second-place finish in the Listed Angels Flight Stakes. However, her attempt on the turf in the Desert Code Stakes proved challenging, resulting in a disappointing fifth-place finish. Her return to dirt in the La Brea Stakes offers her a chance to prove herself as a strong closing option.

The Field for the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes

The Grade 1 La Brea Stakes boasts a stellar field of talented fillies ready to showcase their skills on the grand stage of Santa Anita Park. Alongside Private Mission, Livingmybestlife, and Missy P, the following thoroughbreds will also fiercely vie for the winner’s circle:

  • Canoodling: Morning line odds of 8/1; jockey: Roimes Chirinos; trainer: Mike Puype.
  • Eddie’s New Dream: Morning line odds of 15/1; jockey: Mario Gutierrez; trainer: Ben Cecil.
  • Kalypso: Morning line odds of 5/1; jockey: John Velazquez; trainer: Bob Baffert.
  • Private Mission: Morning line odds of 8/5; jockey: Flavien Prat; trainer: Bob Baffert.
  • Missy P: Morning line odds of 5/2; jockey: Mike Smith; trainer: Richard Mandella.
  • Brilliant Cut: Morning line odds of 12/1; jockey: Jose Ortiz; trainer: Doug O’Neill.
  • Livingmybestlife: Morning line odds of 7/2; jockey: Juan Hernandez; trainer: John Sadler.

Missy P’s Shot at Redemption

Having learned from her subpar performance on turf, Mandella’s decision to return Missy P to dirt presents a strategic move worth noting. As a promising closing contender in the La Brea Stakes, Missy P recently displayed remarkable form in her workouts, including a bullet workout on December 19, where she outpaced her stablemate Q B One. These positive signs indicate Missy P’s readiness to assert herself in this highly anticipated event.


The Grade 1 La Brea Stakes promises a thrilling spectacle as Private Mission seeks redemption and a chance to regain her previous dominance. However, contenders like Livingmybestlife and Missy P loom large, bringing their own impressive records and determination to secure victory. As the day unfolds at Santa Anita Park, fans will be treated to a display of speed, tenacity, and the undeniable beauty of elite horse racing.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the significance of the La Brea Stakes in the horse racing world?

The La Brea Stakes holds immense prestige as a Grade 1 race, attracting top-class fillies and providing them with an opportunity to showcase their talent on a grand stage.

2. How does Private Mission’s previous performance in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff impact her chances in the La Brea Stakes?

Private Mission’s experience in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff serves as a valuable lesson and could potentially fuel her determination to bounce back stronger in the La Brea Stakes.

3. Who are the main challengers to Private Mission in the La Brea Stakes?

Livingmybestlife and Missy P emerge as formidable competitors, each with their unique strengths and records that make them worthy adversaries against Private Mission.

4. What should we expect from Missy P in the La Brea Stakes?

Missy P’s return to the dirt track presents an opportunity for her to showcase her skills as a closer and potentially offer a surprising upset in the La Brea Stakes.

5. How does the competition in the La Brea Stakes contribute to the overall excitement of Santa Anita’s opening day card?

The La Brea Stakes, alongside other top-tier races on Santa Anita’s opening day card, creates an electric atmosphere for racing enthusiasts, offering a day filled with high-stakes contests and thrilling performances on the track.

Doug I. Jones

Doug I. Jones

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