Clement twice shipped west to win grade I races at Del Mar this summer with Rutherienne in the Del Mar Oaks and In Summation in the Bing Crosby Handicap.
A two-time grade II winner on grass, the 5-year-old Irish-bred mare Naissance Royale was assigned top weight of 118 pounds among the 13 fillies and mares signed up for the Las Palmas, which is contested at one mile on the final day of the five-week Oak Tree meet. Garrett Gomez has the riding assignment on the daughter of Giant's Causeway who breaks from post 4.
Naissance Royale was retired from racing this spring shortly after a third-place finish against males in Fair Grounds' Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap (gr. IIT) March 10. However she returned to competition six months later with a second-place showing in Meadowlands' Navajo Princess Sept. 8. In her most recent start, the Monceaux Stable chestnut finished eighth in the Spinster (gr. I) on the Keeneland Polytrack Oct. 7.
Earlier this year, she won Gulfstream Park's Suwannee River Handicap (gr. IIIT). After beginning her career in France, where she was group-placed, Naissance Royale won the Nassau (Can-IIT) at Woodbine in 2006 as well as Saratoga's Lake Placid (gr. IIT). She owns a 5-6-2 record in 19 starts and earnings of $650,213.
Grade III winner Meribel, a 4-year-old Peaks and Valleys filly owned and bred by Arthur B. Hancock III and Catesby W. Clay, is poised for a winning effort. She comes out of a strong finish in Woodbine's Canadian (Can-II) Sept. 16 when she finished third as the favorite, beaten less than a length. Prior to that, she put in two strong tries over the Saratoga turf this summer, finishing fourth -- beaten 1 1/2 lengths -- in the Diana (gr. IT) and third in Ballston Spa Handicap (gr. IIT). Corey Nakatani gets the mount.
The New Zealand-bred Black Mamba has been knocking on the door in her last two starts for trainer John Sadler, and a repeat of her big third-place effort in the Yellow Ribbon (gr. IT) over the course more than a month ago will make her tough here. In that 1 1/4-mile test, Black Mamba made a powerful late bid to just miss by three-quarters of length to victorious Nashoba's Key and just a nose behind the runner-up Citronnade. She ran second to Precious Kitten in Del Mar's Palomar Handicap (gr. IIT) prior to that.
Oak Tree's leading rider Tyler Baze, who has been aboard for all four of Black Mamba's U.S. starts, has the mount again.
Charm the Giant, another 5-year-old Irish-bred daughter of Giant's Causeway, ran last of six in her last start, the Gamely (gr. IT) at Hollywood Park May 28. But the Ron McAnally trained mare won the Wilshire Handicap (gr. IIIT) in her prior effort before the Gamely.
The Brazilian filly Double Trouble has yet to put it all together in a stakes for trainer Bobby Frankel, but this could be the spot. She has been favored in all six of her U.S. starts, winning twice. She ran fourth in Oak Tree's Swingtime Oct. 8, a race won by Las Palmas rival Sweet Belle.
Strong Faith gets a little more room to work with this time after closing powerfully to finish a close third behind Dancing Edie in Oak Tree's Sen. Ken Maddy Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the hillside course at about 6 1/2 furlongs last time out. Jeff Mullins trains the 6-year-old Pioneering mare who also had second-place showings in Del Mar's Rancho Bernardo Handicap (gr. IIIT) and Hollywood Park's A Gleam Handicap (gr. IIT) this summer. She must overcome the outside post, however.
$150,000 Las Palmas Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 8, 3:30 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 Mile (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Live Life (FR), 114, Jose Valdivia, Jr.
2. Shermeen (IRE), 114, Richard Migliore
3. Charm the Giant (IRE), 117, Michael C. Baze
4. Naissance Royale (IRE), 118, Garrett K. Gomez
5. Private Banking (FR), 116, Aaron T. Gryder
6. Trick's Pic (KY), 115, Joseph Talamo
7. Black Mamba (NZ), 114, Tyler Baze
8. Meribel (KY), 116, Corey S. Nakatani
9. Sweet Belle (KY), 116, David R. Flores
10. I Can See (KY), 113, Jon K. Court
11. Double Trouble (BRZ), 116, Victor Espinoza
12. Dream's (CHI), 116, Mike E. Smith
13. Strong Faith (KY), 115, Brice Blanc
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