Sweeter Still, a filly that packs a big wallop into a small frame, takes on a pair of well-regarded John Sadler trainees in Oak Tree's $100,000 Harold C. Ramser Sr. Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the Santa Anita turf Oct. 11.
The Ramser, at one mile, drew a field of eight 3-year-old fillies.
The diminutive Sweeter Still, of whom trainer Jeff Mullins said last spring "doesn't weight 600 pounds soaking wet," has won four of seven races and earned $262,134 in 2008. That includes an all-out nose victory in Hollywood Park's Senorita Stakes (gr. IIIT) in May. On Aug. 15, she defeated Dawn Before Dawn, one of the Sadler fillies she'll face in the Ramser, by 1 1/4 lengths as the favorite in the Sandy Blue Handicap on Del Mar's lawn.
An Irish-bred dark bay filly by Rock of Gibraltar, Sweeter Still drew the rail and will carry high weight of 121 pounds. Regular rider Martin Garcia has the call. Sweeter Still has never been more than 1 1/2 lengths away at the wire in her last seven starts.
Originally conditioned by Ireland’s leading trainer, Aidan O’Brien, Sweeter Still made one start in her homeland, finishing fourth, before being shipped to the United States for a troubled ninth in the Miesque Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Hollywood Park last November. She's been tough to beat ever since.
Sadler, leading the current Oak Tree meet in wins after topping the trainer standings at Hollywood Park and Del Mar this summer, will send out Tasha’s Miracle in addition to Dawn Before Dawn.
“Both horses are doing well, and they’ll probably be the favorites in the race,” Sadler said.
Freshened since running second in the San Clemente Handicap (gr. IIT) in her turf debut at Del Mar July 26,Tasha’s Miracle will carry 118 pounds. Tasha’s Miracle will be competing in her ninth straight graded race, although she hasn't won since taking the Sorrento Stakes (gr. III) as a 2-year-old.
She sports a 2-3-2 lifetime mark in 10 starts with earnings of $334,792 for Budget Stable and Team Valor. Mike Smith, who rode the Florida-bred daughter of Harlan's Holiday for the first time in the one-mile San Clemente, retains the mount. They finished 1 1/4 lengths behind the victorious Storm Mesa.
Sadler, noting the final time of 1:33.54 in the San Clemente, said, “It was a very good second in what was a very fast race."
Garrett Gomez is set to ride the front-running Dawn Before Dawn, who is coming off a gate-to-wire win in the $108,000 Torrey Pines Stakes over one mile on Polytrack at Del Mar Aug. 31. The daughter of High Yield has won four times in 10 starts for owners Ike and Dawn Thrash and earned $150,036.
Dawn Before Dawn has raced six times on grass with two wins.
The Sadler entrants will race uncoupled.
Also in the Ramser field are Gorgeous Goose, third behind Sweeter Still and Dawn Before Dawn in the Sandy Blue, and the Irish-bred Miss Singhsix, second to Dawn Before Dawn in the Torrey Pines in her stakes debut.
Solar Miss, coming off an allowance win at Del Mar Aug. 22 for trainer Kathy Walsh, draws the services of rider Joel Rosario, who led the Oak Tree jockey standings as of Oct. 7. Porto Marmay, an Irish-bred trained by Julio Canani for Marsha Naify, and Set of Wings, making just her second start in nearly a year, complete the field.
$100,000 Harold C. Ramser Sr. Handicap (gr. IIIT, Race 8, 4 p.m.), 3-Year-Old Fillies, 1 Mile (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Sweeter Still (IRE), 121, Martin Garcia
2. Dawn Before Dawn (KY), 117, Garrett K. Gomez
3. Porto Marmay (IRE), 115, David R. Flores
4. Set of Wings (FL, 113, Jose Valdivia, Jr.
5. Solar Miss (KY), 114, Joel Rosario
6. Tasha's Miracle (FL), 118, Mike E. Smith
7. Miss Singhsix (IRE), 116, Tyler Baze
8. Gorgeous Goose (FL), 116, Rafael Bejarano