Headed by Japan's Dance in the Mood an international cast of fourteen 3-year-old fillies will contest Hollywood Park's third running of the $750,000 American Oaks (gr. IT) at 1 1/4 miles on turf Saturday.
Dance in the Mood, who has earned $1,773,556 while winning four of her five starts in Japan, is that nation's first entrant in the Oaks, which gained grade I recognition in its first year of eligibility. The divergent field also includes fillies that last raced overseas in France, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. English and Irish-breds captured the first two runnings.
The American Oaks tops an eleven-race program at Hollywood Park that includes three additional stakes races.
Dance in the Mood, who bears a striking resemblance to her sire, 1989 Horse of the Year Sunday Silence, was bred by Shadai Farm and out of Nijinsky II mare Dancing Key. She seems to have taken a liking to her new surroundings after arriving at Hollywood Park last week. She impressed clockers with a :47 1/5 drill for four furlongs soon after clearing quarantine. The Japanese import is the 9-2 morning line favorite.
Yutaka Take, 35, a ten-time national riding champion in Japan, will be reunited with Dance in the Mood, the only group I turf winner in the American Oaks field. Take was aboard when the bay filly won her fourth in a row while taking the Japanese One Thousand Guineas (Jpn-I) on April 11. Her unbeaten streak ended when upset at 2-5 odds in the Japanese Oaks (Jpn-I) on May 23. Dance in the Mood finished fourth over a turf course labeled "good."
Irish trainer Dermot Weld, who sent Dimitrova across the Atlantic to win last year's American Oaks, has sent British-bred Misty Heights this year. She is fresh off a victory in a listed stakes race on June 6 at Gowran Park in Ireland. Misty Heights, who was beaten by 1 1/4 lengths when fourth in the Moyglare Stud Stakes (Ire-I) in August at The Curragh, has an overall record of 2-2-2 in eight starts for earnings of $122,354.
Bobby Frankel, North America's leading trainer the past two years whose Megahertz won the inaugural American Oaks, will be represented by Saggita Ra and New Zealand-bred Eternal Melody. Saggita Ra most recently finished third behind Lovely Rafaela in the Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) on June 5 at Hollywood Park. Eternal Melody finished a fast-closing third in her U.S. debut, the Mint Julep Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs on May 29. She previously had won four of 13 starts in New Zealand.
Two other New Zealand imports, Boulevardofdreams and French Lady, represent the Southern Hemisphere. Boulevardofdreams finished just behind runner-up French Lady in Australia's AJC Oaks (Aus-I) on April 14. Accompanied by trainer Wayne Hillis, she brings a 2-1-1 record from nine starts into the American Oaks. French Lady, now settled into the Hollywood Park barn of Neil Drysdale, recorded a 1-3-0 mark in nine races while traveling between New Zealand and Australia.
The Southern Hemisphere fillies, because they are 4-year-olds, carry 125 pounds apiece. All others carry 121.
Lovely Rafaela, the Kentucky-bred who nosed out Western Hemisphere when taking the Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap at odds of 16-1 for trainer Paulo Lobo, heads the U.S. contingent. Trainer Bob Baffert has made a jockey change to David Flores on Western Hemisphere for Saturday's rematch.
Mambo Slew, who won Hollywood Park's Miesque Stakes (gr. IIIT) in November, returns to California following a neck victory in the Sands Point (gr. IIIT) at Belmont Park on June 13. Patrick Valenzuela will ride Hollywood Story, winner of last December's Hollywood Starlet (gr. IT). She will make her grass debut in her tenth lifetime start for trainer John Shirreffs.$750,000 American Oaks (gr. IT), 3-year-old fillies, 1 1/4 mile on turf
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, ML Odds
1. Misty Heights, Victor Espinoza, 121, 8-1
2. Mambo Slew, Mike Smith, 121, 5-1
3. Boulevardofdreams, Gary Grylls, 125, 20-1
4. Hollywood Story, Patrick Valenzuela, 121, 12-1
5. Amorama, Kerwin John, 121, 20-1
6. Dance in the Mood, Yutaka Take, 121, 9-2
7. Ticker Tape, Kent Desormeaux, 121, 8-1
8. French Lady, Jon Court, 125, 20-1
9. Western Ransom, Ryan Fogelsonger, 121, 12-1
10. Western Hemisphere, David Flores, 121, 8-1
11. Eternal Melody, Alex Solis, 125, 6-1
12. Lovely Rafaela, Martin Pedroza, 121, 12-1
13. Steel Princess, Tyler Baze, 121, 12-1
14. Sagitta Ra, Javier Santiago, 121, 20-1