Pussycat Doll Forges Ahead in Santa Monica Test

Pussycat Doll Forges Ahead in Santa Monica Test
Photo: Jeffrey Snyder
Sunday's Santa Monica marks the return of Pussycat Doll for the first time since winning the Humana Distaff last May.
Pussycat Doll, off the racing trail since winning the Humana Distaff Handicap (gr. I) May 6, returns in an ambitious spot -- Sunday's $250,000 Santa Monica Handicap (gr. I) for older fillies and mares at Santa Anita -- where she faces nine tough rivals going seven furlongs.

The 5-year-old daughter of 1998 Kentucky Derby and Preakness (both gr. I) winner Real Quiet seeks her third grade I victory in only her 11th start in the Santa Monica. Bob Baffert trains Pussycat Doll for owner and breeder Mike Pegram, who also campaigned her sire. Pussycat Doll won the seven-furlong La Brea (gr. I) at Santa Anita as a 3-year-old.

“She hasn’t raced for nine months but she’s been training good for this,” Baffert said. “After the Churchill race (a one-length victory) she was knocked out and didn’t look right, so I freshened her up. Since we missed the Breeders’ Cup races anyway, I decided to give her extra time.

“She’s grown up more and filled out. Hopefully she’ll get better. We’ll get her ready for here and then a summer campaign. They have to have a break sometimes, you know?”

Garrett Gomez, who rode Pussycat Doll in the seven-furlong Humana Distaff, has the mount again. Pussycat Doll, who carries top weight of 121 pounds, has a 6-1-0 record from 10 starts with earnings of $507,831.

Trainer Doug O'Neill saddles Maryfield, like his Lava Man, a $50,000 claim. A 6-year-old mare by Elusive Quality  , the speedy Maryfield tests grade I waters for the first time.

“She’s been an awesome surprise,” O’Neill said of Maryfield. “Unlike Lava Man, however, she has shipped and run well (winning the restricted Very Subtle Stakes at Churchill Downs Nov. 4). “We hope to get a grade I win or a grade I placing with her.”

The Ontario-bred Maryfield ran second in the A Gleam Invitational Handicap (gr. II) at Hollywood Park last July in her best graded stakes effort so far.

Squallacious finished a fast-closing second to the Baffert-trained Downthedustyroad in the La Brea Dec. 30. She also ran second in the Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks (gr. II) in June.

Win McCool, a graded stakes winner last year in New York, tries to bounce back from her fifth-place finish in the La Brea.

$250,000 Santa Monica Handicap (gr. I, Race 8, 4 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, 7 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Maryfield (ON), 117, Victor Espinoza
2. Squallacious (KY), 113, Aaron T. Gryder
3. Indian Flare (KY), 115,     David R. Flores
4. Secret Scheme (FL), 114, Jon K. Court
5. Mazella (KY), 114, Tyler Baze
6. Nossa Cancao (BRZ), 113, Omar A. Berrio
7. Political Web (KY), 113, Martin A. Pedroza
8. Pussycat Doll (KY), 121, Garrett K. Gomez
9. Gins Majesty (KY), 114, Corey S. Nakatani
10. Win McCool (KY), 114, Richard Migliore

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