Trainer John Sadler thought that Del Mar Debutante (gr. I) favorite Tasha's Miracle was going to be special the first time he saw her. He tried to buy her during Barrett's 2-year-olds in training sale earlier this year, but her reserve, in the $300,000 range, proved too expensive for his budget.
When the bidding for Tasha's Miracle, a Florida-bred daughter of Harlan's Holiday, failed to reach the desired level, owners Syd and Joanne Belzberg bought her back and turned her over to Sadler to train.
"I liked her a lot at the sale," Sadler said this week. "I didn't end up buying her, but the irony is that I ended up training her. And then after she broke her maiden, Team Valor came in for a 50-percent share, so it's a really nice deal for everybody."
Winner of the Sorrento Stakes (gr. III) on the Del Mar Polytrack Aug. 8, Tasha's Miracle brings the most impressive credentials to the $250,000 Del Mar Debutante (gr. I) on Sept. 3. Fourteen were entered for the seven-furlong event and if all start, it would be the track's largest Debutante field in 40 years. There were 167 original nominations and five others were entered after paying a $10,000 supplementary fee.
Tasha's Miracle, who stalked an honest pace in the 6 1/2-furlong Sorrento for jockey David Flores before surging to the lead coming off the turn, cruised to a 3 1/2-length victory.
The bay filly began her career at Hollywood Park in June, when she was beaten by a neck by Debutante rival Ever So Pretty in a five-furlong Cushion track maiden event. She returned July 1 with a handy front-running 2 1/2-length maiden score at 5 1/2 furlongs when teamed with Flores for the first time.
The Belzbergs bought Tasha's Miracle as a yearling at Ocala with the intention of pinhooking her in California. Their Budget Stable -- named for the family's Budget Rent A Car franchises, not their Thoroughbred expenditures -- has been racing for more than 30 years.
But Tasha's Miracle is the first Budget horse to be trained by Sadler.
"They've raced in California a long time," Sadler said. "So there's kind of a series of connections that led them to me."
Sadler expects Tasha's Miracle to improve with distance. If she runs well in the Debutante, he said she'll probably go on to the Oak Leaf (gr. I) at Santa Anita Sept. 29 and be considered for the Grey Goose Vodka Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) at Monmouth Park Oct. 27. Both of those are contested at 1 1/16 miles.
"What I liked about this filly right along is we think she's going to be better around two turns than one turn," he said. "She's by Harlan's Holiday out of a Relaunch mare (Ms. Cuvee Napa). She broke her maiden by three lengths, then after the race, she just took off and galloped out like a champion."
Del Mar's Polytrack could aid her in her conditioning for longer distances this fall on any surface, he added. The filly has already shown an aptitude for the synthetic tracks.
"Her being kind of a natural distance horse, we think it's our advantage," Sadler said.
The Debutante field could be the largest since 1968 when Fourth Round, a supplemental entry, won.
This year there are five supplementaries -- Izarra, trained by Ron McAnally; Comical Vacation, Jeff Mullins; Ididntmeantoo, Doug O’Neill; Wild Baby Girl, Barry Abrams, and Sunday Geisha, shipping in from Monmouth Park for trainer Kelly Breen.
The Golden Noodle, a Montana-bred D'wildcat filly from the barn of Hall of Fame conditioner Jack Van Berg, registered her maiden score in Hollywood Park’s Landaluce Stakes June 30, a 3 1/2-length win over Debutante foe Treadmill.
J. Paul Reddam's homebred Treadmill, a daughter of E Dubai , came back to win the CTBA Stakes at Del Mar for trainer Doug O'Neill.
The Debutante also drew the second- and third-place finishers from the Sorrento -- the Peter Miller-trained Set Play and the maiden Foxy Danseur from the Christopher Paasch stable.
Other maiden winners in the field are Ever So Pretty, Magic Myth, Spring Awakening, Izarra, Comical Vacation, Ididntmeantoo and Wild Baby Girl.
Sunday Geisha is a non-winner who finished second in her only start. Sweet August Moon is a first-time starter.
Wild Baby Girl and Sweet August Moon finished their major training for the race Aug. 30 with sharp workouts. Wild Baby Girl zipped three furlongs in :35 and Sweet August Moon was clocked in :48 flat for a half-mile.$250,000 Del Mar Debutante (gr. I, Race 9, 6 p.m.), 2-Year-Old Fillies, 7 Furlongs (All Weather)