Established in 2002, Hollywood Park's American Oaks, at 10 furlongs on the turf with a purse of $750,000, quickly attracted an international buzz as an early summer destination for sharp 3-year-old fillies. It has been won by top runners such as Megahertz, Ireland's Dimitrova, Ticker Tape, Japan's Cesario, Wait a While, Pure Clan, and last year's Gozzip Girl.
The 2010 renewal July 3, with a reduction in purse to $250,000 reflecting tough times in the Thoroughbred game in California, unfortunately, won't have that sort of flavor. A decidedly local cast of eight will line up for this year's grade I event, though it promises to be an entertaining race. Cozi Rosie, City to City, and Andina, having squared off a couple of times already during the year, will have a chance to settle scores.
The Oaks, which is preceded by the $150,000 Royal Heroine Mile (gr. IIT) for older fillies and mares, is the eighth race on the program with a 4:35 p.m. (PDT) probable post. All starters will carry 121 pounds.
Owners Jerry and Ann Moss will try to win a second grade I event at the Hollywood meet with Cozi Rosie. The Mosses, who won a memorable third consecutive Vanity Handicap (gr. I) with the undefeated Zenyatta June 13, saw Cozi Rosie earn her first graded win almost two months ago for trainer John Sadler.
The fast-developing daughter of Pleasantly Perfect won the Senorita Stakes (gr. III) May 2 at Hollywood by one length over Andina and City to City. That score was followed a head loss to heavily favored Evening Jewel in the Honeymoon Handicap (gr. IIT) on May 31. Evening Jewel was not nominated for the American Oaks.
Bred by the Mosses in Kentucky, Cozi Rosie is a closer who began her career on synthetic tracks before switching to the grass following a fifth-place finish in the Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I) March 6. She has three wins in eight starts overall and has earned $157,280. Like all others in the Oaks field, she will be trying 10 furlongs for the first time. Mike Smith has ridden the chestnut filly in all her races and retains the mount.
City To City, who finished one length behind Cozi Rosie when completing the trifecta in the Honeymoon, has not been worse than third in six races on turf for owners William De Burgh, Mark DeDomenico, and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. She has three wins on the surface, including stakes successes in the China Doll and Providencia (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita, in which she defeated Andina by a half-length April 3.
A daughter of City Zip and the Storm Cat mare Stormbow, City To City has won five of 13 starts. Her bankroll stands at $223,054.
Irish-bred Andina, who finished in a dead heat for fourth in the Honeymoon Handicap, has yet to win a graded stakes. She has never been beaten by more than 1 1/2 lengths in six U.S. races, however. Owned by Arnold Zetcher and trained by Ben Cecil, the daughter of Singspiel had one start in England to begin her career. The chestnut has won two of seven and earned $127,693. Her victories came in her first two races in the United States, both at Santa Anita.
“Last time she was too close to the pace,” said Cecil of the Honeymoon, in which Andina stalked in second much of the way. “We will try to stay farther back. She’s got a nice turn of foot. We took that away from her last time. A mile and a quarter should suit her.”
Michael Tabor's Conniption, another Irish-bred filly trained by Simon Callaghan, steps into grade I company off a first-level allowance win at one mile in her first try on the Hollywood lawn May 20.
“I’m optimistic she will get the trip,” said Callaghan of the added distance.
The Danehill Dancer filly will be looking to give Callaghan, Tabor, and jockey Brice Blanc their second graded stakes victory in one week. On June 26, Turning Top won her fourth in a row for Callaghan and Tabor, taking the Beverly Hills Handicap (gr. IIIT) under Blanc.
Conniption, like Andina, began her career in England and has won two of six while earning $50,078.
Also making a big jump in class is Pam and Marty Wygod's homebred Harmonious, who comes into the Oaks off a pair of wins over the local turf. Trained by John Shirreffs, the stalking Dynaformer filly defeated maidens at one mile in her second start by one length May 16, then won a nine-furlong allowance by a half-length June 12.
Antares World, owned by her breeders Mr. and Mrs. Larry Williams and trained by Steve Specht, is returning to turf after finishing fourth in the Hollywood Oaks (gr. II) June 6. She would be first California bred to win the American Oaks. She is 5-for-10 with earnings of $179,718, but all of her victories have come in Northern California.
Weekend Magic will be making her turf debut for owner-trainer Myung Kwon Cho after an easy maiden score over Cushion Track on June 20. The daughter of Ecton Park has one win in four tries.
Completing the field is Riviera Chic, who was supplemented to the field for $5,000 by trainer James Lloyd.
$250,000 American Oaks (gr. IT, Race 8, 4:35 p.m.), 3-Year-Old Fillies, 1 1/4 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Riviera Chic (KY), V Espinoza, J Lloyd
2. Antares World (CA), F T Alvarado, S Specht
3. Weekend Magic (KY), A Quinonez, M K Cho
4. Harmonious (KY), M Garcia, J A Shirreffs
5. City to City (KY), J Rosario, J Hollendorfer
6. Andina (IRE), R Bejarano, B D Cecil
7. Conniption (IRE), B Blanc, S Callaghan
8. Cozi Rosie (KY), M E Smith, J W Sadler
All carry 121 pounds.