Fourth in the Diana Stakes (gr. IT) at Saratoga in her most recent start for trainer Christophe Clement, the 5-year-old daughter of Lear Fan drops into an action spot here, facing a field that lacks another graded stakes winner. Vacare began her 2008 campaign with an eighth-place finish in Belmont Park's Just A Game Stakes (gr. IT) June 7.
Owned by Jon and Sarah Kelly, Vacare won the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (gr. IT) as a 3-year-old in 2006 and the First Lady Stakes (gr. IIT) last year, both races coming over the Keeneland turf. Corey Nakatani, who was aboard for the First Lady win in which Vacare collared Precious Kitten for a half-length triumph, regains the mount. Nakatani and the New York-based Clement have teamed for a number of high-profile stakes wins on the West Coast in recent seasons.
Vacare breaks from the middle of the field, post 5, for the 1 1/16-mile test and carries top weight of 119 pounds. The bay mare has won six of 10 lifetime starts while earning $870,456.
Just to her inside is Kris' Sis, the third-place finisher in last year's Palomar, which was won by Precious Kitten. Richard Baltas trains the 5-year-old Forestry mare, who is coming off a fourth-place finish as the favorite in the Osunitas Handicap July 19. She has a pair of wins to her credit on the Del Mar turf course.
Four-year-old Brazilian filly Zardana won the Osunitas (at odds of 43-1) in her fifth U.S. start for the combination of trainer Ron McAnally and owner Arnold Zetcher.
The Barry Abrams trainee America's Friend captured the Aug. 17 Solana Beach Handicap at one mile as the favorite, the first of back-to-back victories on the Del Mar grass for the 4-year-old daughter of Unusual Heat.
The stakes-tested Gotta Have Her and Forest Melody both have a win over the Del Mar lawn.
Ainamaa and Moujane both come into the Palomar after allowance victories. Live Life returns to action after nearly a six-month layoff, while Ransom Captive most recently ran seventh in the John C. Mabee Handicap (gr. IT) after back-to-back allowance wins at Hollywood Park for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.
Hollendorfer also trains the also-eligible Gula Gold.
$200,000 Palomar Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 9, 6 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/16 MIles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Zardana (BRZ), 115, Aaron T. Gryder
2. Live Life (FR), 113, Jose Valdivia, Jr.
3. Ransom Captive (KY), 114, Michael C. Baze
4. Kris' Sis (KY), 115, Rafael Bejarano
5. Vacare (KY), 119, Corey S. Nakatani
6. Forest Melody (KY), 114, Tyler Baze
7. Gotta Have Her (KY), 115, Richard Migliore
8. Moujane (FL), 114, David R. Flores
9. Ainamaa (KY), 113, Victor Espinoza
10. America's Friend (CA), 114, Alex O. Solis
11. Gula Gold (KY), 113, Joel Rosario