Grade 1-winning Kentucky-breds Proxy and Defunded are likely to vie for favoritism in a competitive renewal of the $500,000 Santa Anita Handicap (G1) at Santa Anita on Saturday, March 4. Contested at 1 ¼ miles, the prestigious Santa Anita Handicap attracted a field of 11, comprised entirely of horses bred in the Bluegrass.

Proxy, a Godolphin homebred trained by Michael Stidham, seeks his second Grade 1 score in the Big ‘Cap. Proxy captured the Clark S. (G1) at Churchill Downs last November, and the 5-year-old son of Tapit made his seasonal bow at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 28, finishing fifth behind Art Collector in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational S. (G1). All told, Proxy, who will be ridden by John Velazquez, has won four of 14 lifetime starts and has banked $1,055,220. Velazquez is no stranger to Proxy, having ridden the handsome bay to a runner-up finish in the 2021 Risen Star S. (G2) at Fair Grounds.

Juan Hernandez will ride Defunded, who was runner-up to Art Collector in the Pegasus World Cup in his most recent outing. Owned by Pegram, Watson, and Weitman, and conditioned by Bob Baffert, Defunded is an ultra-consistent horse who closed out his 2022 campaign with back-to-back graded stakes wins in the Awesome Again S. (G1) at Santa Anita and the Native Diver S. (G3) at Del Mar. Bred in Kentucky by Athens Woods LLC, Defunded, a son of Dialed In, has won five of 14 outings and has amassed earnings of $1,168,100.

Trainer Brad Cox ships Warrant to Southern California for owner-breeder Twin Creeks Racing Stables. Second, beaten just a head in last year’s Big ‘Cap, Warrant won his first start of 2023, taking an optional claiming event at Fair Grounds in January. The 5-year-old son of Constitution is a four-time winner from 13 appearances, and he has banked $937,325. As a 3-year-old, Warrant captured the Oklahoma Derby (G3) at Remington Park and the Texas Derby at Lone Star Park and finished second in the West Virginia Derby (G3) at Mountaineer. Jockey Falvien Prat has the call.

The hard-knocking Stilleto Boy, most recently third in the Pegasus World Cup after carving out the early fractions that day, returns for trainer Ed Moger Jr. An earner of more than $1.4 million, Stilleto Boy finished third in last year’s Big ‘Cap and has hit the board in 15 of 20 lifetime starts. Owned by Steve Moger and bred in Kentucky by John and Iveta Kerber, Stilleto Boy, a son of Shackleford, will be ridden by Kent Desormeaux.

Rounding out the field of Kentucky-breds are There Goes Harvard, Parnelli, Newgrange, Heywoods Beach, Hopper, Scarlet Fusion, and Tisquantum.