Photo: Santa Ysabel Asistencia church circa 1875.
The Santa Ysabel Stakes, in the tradition of many of Santa Anita's stakes races, was named in honor of an early California land grant. Santa Ysabel Rancho in the mountains east of San Diego was granted to Jose Joaquin Ortega and Edward Stokes in 1844.
The rancho included the site of an early California mission, Santa Ysabel Asistencia, which was founded in 1818 as a sub-mission to Mission San Diego de Alcala and to serve as a rest stop for those traveling between San Diego and Sonora.
Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, son of Sacagawea, camped at the Mission in 1847 after guiding the Mormon Battalion from New Mexico to San Diego. In 1898 The Santa Ysabel Indian Reservation was established.
The Santa Ysabel Stakes was introduced during the 1967-68 Santa Anita meet -- a banner meet that featured a stakes schedule of 45 added-money events. It was one of ten new stakes added to the Santa Anita roster that year, most of which had names linked to early California history or nearby communities. They included the San Gorgonio Handicap, Santa Paula Handicap, San Jacinto Stakes, Monrovia Handicap, San Simeon Handicap, Oneonta Handicap, Camino Real Handicap, Santa Ana Handicap, and the Baldwin Stakes -- named in honor of E.J. "Lucky" Baldwin, pioneer California racing figure and founder of the original Santa Anita racetrack on his rancho.
The Santa Ysabel is for three-year-old fillies at a mile and a sixteenth. The inaugural running on Feb. 14, 1968 was split into two divisions. Silk Hat II and jockey Jerry Lambert took the first division; and Braulio Baeza, who flew in from Florida for the race, was aboard Fish Net, for a two-length, wire-to-wire victory in the second division.