Patrick Biancone expects major improvement from Whoopi Cat in Sunday's $250,000 Las Virgenes Stakes (gr. I) for 3-year-old fillies at one mile, and not just because Halfbridled is passing the race. "She needed her last race," the trainer said of Whoopi Cat, who was a well-beaten sixth in the Jan. 19 Santa Ynez Stakes (gr. II), her first race in five months. "She ran good enough and we're following the program we set for her."Whoopi Cat won her first two starts in New York last summer, including the Adirondack Stakes (gr. II) in August.Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) champion Halfbridled will be given more time for her 3-year-old debut and now is expected to return in the $300,000 Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I) on March 13, trainer Richard Mandella said."She's pointing to the Santa Anita Oaks and probably the Ashland after that, if everything went well," Mandella said. The $500,000 Ashland (gr. I), at 1 1/16 miles, is at Keeneland on April 3.
Probable for the Las Virgenes: A. P. Adventure, Alex Solis; Friendly Michelle, no rider; Hollywood Story, Victor Espinoza; Whoopi Cat, Mike Smith; Wildwood Flower, Gary Stevens; and Yearly Report, Julie Krone.
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