A bang-up field of nine goes postward in Saturday's feature at Del Mar, the grassy nine furlong $400,000 John C. Mabee/Ramona Handicap (gr. IT). There's black type all over the entries, who are headed by Golden Apples, Affluent, and Surya.
Gary Tanaka's Golden Apples made her stateside debut last year at Del Mar, displaying a vicious kick down the lane to win the Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT). She has since taken a pair of grade II contests at Santa Anita. The Ben Cecil-trainee is all class, and has hit the board in each of her six American starts.
If not for Azeri, Affluent would be the queen of the turf. She has finished second to that foe in a trio of grade I races this year, and is a multiple grade I winner from 2001. Millionaire Affluent, a daughter of Affirmed trained by Ron McAnally for the Paseana connection of owner Janis Whitham, figures to be super-tough in here.
Surya, out of the Bobby Frankel machine, is merely undefeated in three stateside races since arriving from France. Her maiden-breaker came by 12 lengths at Del Mar last August, and she seeks to step up from her Royal Heroine (gr. IIIT) score earlier this month. Janet is only $20,000 from becoming a millionaire, and the multiple grade I winner is the defending champion in this heat, defeating Tranquility Lake a year ago. She returns for Darrell Vienna from a good third in the New York Handicap (gr. IIT) July 4.
McAnally has another contender in Snowflake, who was four-for-four in North America until setting the pace then tiring in the Beverly Hills Handicap (gr.IT) in June. Snowflake is by turf sire Caerleon. Bob Baffert sends out Netherland, who, though highly regarded, has yet to win since coming north from Argentina. In her four efforts for Baffert she has faced the likes of Summer Colony, Belterra, and Gold Mover, so she has every right to improve.
The Mabee/Ramona field, in post position order with jockeys and weights:
1) Canzone (G.F. Almeida, 114)
2) Affluent (Eddie Delahoussaye, 118)
3) Surya (Kent Desormeaux, 116)
4) Golden Apples (Garrett Gomez, 120)
5) Crazy Design (Laffit Pincay Jr., 115)
6) Snowflake (Mike Smith, 113)
7) Janet (David Flores, 118)
8) Eurolink Raindance (Alex Solis, 114)
9) Netherland (Victor Espinoza, 111)