Halfbridled, the undefeated champion 2-year-old of 2003 who has yet to start this year, will break from the rail in a much-anticipated matchup with undefeated A. P. Adventure in Saturday's $300,000 Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I).
A field of eight 3-year-old fillies has been entered in the 1 1/16-mile Oaks.
A. P. Adventure, who already this year has won the Las Virgenes Stakes (gr.I) on Feb. 15 and the Santa Ysabel Stakes (gr. III) in January, is presumed to have a seasoning edge over Halfbridled, who has not raced since winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) in October.
Halfbridled won all four of her starts last year by a combined 16 ½ lengths, but it remains to be seen whether the nearly five-month layoff will hinder the daughter of Unbridled Saturday.
Wally Dollase, who conditions A. P. Adventure, is one who thinks Halfbridled's layoff may help his filly.
"I think it will help," said Wally Dollase, who trains A. P. Adventure, a daughter of 1992 Horse of the Year A.P. Indy.
"My filly needs to be tightened down. A horse like Halfbridled is a lighter type of horse and it probably wouldn't matter that much. She'll probably run her race anyway. But my filly would eat you out of house and home if you let her. Of course, that can backfire on you if you get that extra weight on you."
A. P. Adventure has earned $241,080 for owners Bob and Beverly Lewis.
Halfbridled will be ridden for the first time by Hall of Famer Gary Stevens, who is filling in for the injured Julie Krone. Saturday will be the first time Stevens gets a leg up on Halfbridled, but he is confident things will go smoothly.
"I've run against her and I've watched all her races," said Stevens, who is scheduled to depart for an extended stay in Europe in less than two weeks. "She's pretty straight forward. She's got a big old long stride and she's the real deal. My job is to stay out of her way and point her in the right direction."
The field for Saturday's $300,000 Santa Anita Oaks. All entries to carry 117 pounds.
1. Halfbridled, G. Stevens
2. Salty Romance, M. Smith
3. Miss Coronado, K. Desormeaux
4. Silent Sighs, D. Flores
5. Hollywood Story, V. Espinoza
6. A. P. Adventure, A. Solis
7. Vencedora Amiga, M. Pedroza
8. Stellar Jayne, J. Santiago