Santa Anita Oaks Reunites Wild Fit, Balance
Wild Fit attempts to square the score with Balance on Sunday when the co-favorites for this year's Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) head a field of nine 3-year-old fillies set to contest Santa Anita's $300,000 Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I) at 1 1/16 miles.Balance could go postward as a slight favorite following her mild upset of Wild Fit in the Las Virgenes Stakes (gr. I) Feb. 11, her fourth win in five starts. The two were listed as individual co-favorites in the most recent future wager on the May 5 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs.A bay daughter of 1995 Kentucky Derby winner Thunder Gulch, Balance was the 5-2 second choice when she repulsed the rally of 2-1 favorite Wild Fit by one length in the one-mile Las Virgenes. It was Wild Fit's first start since her second-place finish in the Alberto VO5 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) at Belmont Park Oct. 29.Both fillies have raced five times, neither ever having finished worse than second. The Florida-bred Wild Fit drew the outside post for Sunday's rematch with Balance, who is set to break from post position No. 7. After breaking her maiden at Del Mar last summer, Wild Fit won the Del Mar Debutante (gr. I). She has since finished second in the Oak Leaf Stakes (gr. II), Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, and the Las Virgenes. The gray daughter of Wild Wonder has earned $482,600 in her career. She is owned by the partnership of Magnier, Smith & Tabor, who bought her for $3 million. Balance won her first three starts last year, including a pair of minor stakes, before she was upset by one-half length by 39-1 shot Diplomat Lady in the Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) at Hollywood Park. She returned two months later to win the Las Virgenes and bring her earnings to $333,300 for John and Jerry Amerman. "She came around so quickly at the end of the year that she didn't have time to catch up to herself," noted trainer David Hofmans. "And now she has. She is a stronger, smarter and calmer filly."Biancone, who took over as Wild Fit's trainer following the Breeders' Cup, acknowledged that Balance "was better" following the Las Virgenes. Biancone expects to run Wild Fit, rain or shine. "If it was another race and the track was off, I would not run. But it's a Grade I ... so we've got to go," he said. "We'll have to see if she can handle it. If the track is sealed, it's sealed for everybody. As long as it's safe, she'll run on a wet track. What can we do?"In the Las Virgenes, Diplomat Lady failed to emulate her winning effort in the Hollywood Starlet. After leading early, she faded to fifth, 7 ¾ lengths behind Balance. Trained by Christopher Paasch for Charles Como, Diplomat Lady has won three of six starts for earnings of $339,800.Sweet Belle makes her first start in a stakes race. She has won a pair of route races after losing her debut by a head in a sprint race. Wally Dollase trains the daughter of Deputy Commander for a partnership. Jockey Corey Nakatani has won four runnings of the Santa Anita Oaks, including last year's event aboard favored Sweet Catomine.In a ceremony between the sixth and seventh races Sunday, jockey Mark Guidry will be presented this year's George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award. The seventh race is the Santa Ana Mile Handicap that drew 13 entrants, including Imperialism - who ran third in the 2004 Kentucky Derby (gr. I).$300,000 Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I, Race 9, 4:30 p.m.), 3-Year-Old Fillies, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey
1. Quiet Kim (KY), Patrick Valenzuela
2. Cheerily (IRE), Tony Farina
3. Horse B With You (WA), Jon Court
4. Diplomat Lady (KY), Tyler Baze
5. Sweet Belle (KY), Corey Nakatani
6. Karlee's Kitten (KY), Martin Pedroza
7. Balance (KY), Victor Espinoza
8. I Can See (KY), Kerwin John
9. Wild Fit (FL), Alex Solis
Each filly assigned 122 pounds.
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