American Oaks (gr. IT) runner-up Well Monied heads a full field of 3-year-old fillies for the $350,000 Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT) Aug. 22 on the turf at the seaside track.
The 1 1/8-mile event shapes up as a highly entertaining affair. Also entered are the first four finishers from Del Mar's exciting San Clemente Handicap (gr. IIT) on Aug. 1, as well as Lexlenos, who ran third at 63-1 in the American Oaks at Hollywood Park last month.
Trainer Paddy Gallagher, who won last year's Del Mar Oaks with 43-1 shot Magical Fantasy, won't be slipping in under the radar this time. The popular Irishman not only starts Lexlenos, but he also has Starlarks, who upset the one-mile San Clemente at 11-1 by a nose over Strawberry Tart. Both of Gallagher's closers figure to be considerably shorter odds this time.
Also coming out of the San Clemente are Hameildaeme, who ran third by a nose over Internallyflawless, who represents newly enshrined Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.
Favoritism, though, is likely to go to Well Monied, who was so impressive in winning the Honeymoon Handicap (gr. IIT) on the Hollywood Park lawn prior to her second-place finish to Gozzip Girl in the 1 1/4-mile American Oaks July 5. Trained by Howard Zucker for C.T. Grether, the gray/roan daughter of Maria's Mon gave a game effort when rallying from 13th in the big field, but could not overcome a five-wide trip into the stretch and was defeated by 3 1/4 lengths.
Prior to the American Oaks, the Kentucky-bred Well Monied had won three of five starts in 2009 while handling several of the top contenders in the Del Mar Oaks, including Lexlenos, Hameildaeme and Starlarks. Joel Rosario retains the mount and they will break from post 5.
Starlarks, who like her stablemate Lexlenos is a fast-improving Irish-bred filly, stepped forward in a big way to win a stirring stretch duel over Strawberry Tart in the San Clemente. She charged six wide that day for Alex Solis to get up in the final stride for her second win in her past three starts for Gallagher. Brice Blanc takes over the riding chores for Solis, who sticks with Lexlenos.
Lexlenos, third behind Well Monied in both the Honeymoon and American Oaks in her past two starts, makes her fourth U.S. start for Gallagher.
Strawberry Tart, trained by Jeff Bonde, had defeated Starlarks by more than two lengths when she won the one-mile Flawlessly Stakes at Hollywood, which made her one of the favorites in the San Clemente. The California-bred daughter of Atticus won four of her five starts this year prior to her most recent race at Del Mar. In the San Clemente, she was in tight at the top of the stretch but emerged with the lead before being caught late.
Hameildaeme, a Great Britain-bred daughter of Storming Home, has won two of four starts for trainer James Lloyd since transferring to the U.S. this year. She was winless in eight tries in her native country.
Charles Fipke's homebred Internallyflawless was out-kicked in the San Clemente after making a huge bid from the rear of the pack. She has every right to improve in her second start in nearly eight months for Baffert. The Giant's Causeway lass ran a close second to Habaya in the Miesque (gr. IIIT) at Hollywood Park last fall. Internallyflawless zipped five furlongs on the main track Aug. 16 in :59 4/5.
The lightly-raced Hermione's Magic has won two of three starts. The British-bred miss ran third in a handicap at Newmarket in May, then won her American debut for trainer Kathy Walsh over an optional claiming allowance field Aug. 5 at Del Mar.
Dreamalong took seven starts to break her maiden for Julio Canani, but won back-to-back efforts on the Hollywood lawn in her two most recent starts. Nan looks to end a seven-race losing skid in graded stakes company. Donttellmewhattodo was supplemented to the race for $3,500 from the Doug O'Neill barn for co-owners Suarez Racing and Paul Lo Duca.
$350,000 Del Mar Oaks (gr. I, Race 8, 5:30 p.m.), 3-Year-Old Fillies, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Internallyflawless (KY), G K Gomez, B Baffert
2. Nan (KY), V Espinoza, C Dollase
3. Hermione's Magic (GB), M E Smith, K Walsh
4. Dreamalong (KY), T Baze, J C Canani
5. Well Monied (KY), J Rosario, H L Zucker
6. Strawberry Tart (CA), M Garcia, J Bonde
7. Starlarks (IRE), B Blanc, P Gallagher
8. Hameildaeme (GB), D Sorenson, J Lloyd
9. Lexlenos (IRE), A O Solis, P Gallagher
10. Donttellmewhattodo (KY), J Talamo, D F O'Neill
Each carries 122 pounds.