A condylar fracture of a cannon bone knocked Darley Debutante (gr. I) winner Mi Sueno out of the $300,000 Oak Leaf Stakes (gr. I) this week and 13 juvenile fillies are hoping to take advantage at Oak Tree's Santa Anita meet Oct. 4.
All 13 are seeking a first graded stakes win in the 1 1/16-mile Oak Leaf. Also at stake is an automatic berth in the $2 million Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) Nov. 6 at Santa Anita as part of the "Win and You're In" challenge series.
Mi Sueno would have been a solid favorite in the Oak Leaf, but due to her misfortune the race appears wide open. Blind Luck, La Nez and It Tiz, separated by a head and a neck while second, third and fourth, respectively, in the seven-furlong Debutante at Del Mar Sept. 5, figure to get the most attention. The question is which of them will handle the route distance for the first time.
Blind Luck, a daughter of Pollard's Vision trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, outclassed softer company in her first two starts, a maiden claimer and a starter allowance. She stepped way up in the Debutante, where she did not have the easiest of trips but rallied impressively while five wide into the lane to nip La Nez for second.
The California-bred La Nez, one of two entered by trainer Eric Kruljac, rallied to get the lead at odds of 41-1 in the Debutante stretch run, but was caught late while holding off It Tiz for third. The Storm Creek filly has a maiden win in four starts.
Trainer Mark Glatt believes It Tiz, who was 28-1 in the Debutante, should benefit by the additional distance. The 2-year-old daughter of 2000 Horse of the Year Tiznow won her debut race at Del Mar going 6 1/2 furlongs prior to the Debutante.
“I think she has a good style to get a distance,” Glatt said. “Pedigree-wise, everything suggests she can go further. She ran in her sprint races like she’d appreciate more ground, and she trains like a filly with a lot of natural air. Hopefully, she’ll improve quite a bit going a distance.”
It Tiz, owned by Allen and Susan Branch, worked seven furlongs on Pro-Ride Sept. 26 in 1:26.60.
“She had a perfect trip when she broke her maiden, but in the Debutante she kind of got trapped down inside from the eighth pole to the sixteenth pole,” Glatt said. “There was a spot to go through, but she was a little intimidated about running through there. She just needed the experience. If she had clear sailing throughout the stretch, she’d have been real close to winning.”
Also coming out of the Debutante is fifth-place finisher Repo, who returned to run second, beaten by a nose, in the Barretts Debutante at Fairplex Sept. 19. This, too, is the route debut for the Cal-bred daughter of In Excess who won Hollywood Park's Landaluce Stakes in front-running style this summer. Trained by Doug O'Neill for J. Paul Reddam, she is 3-for-6 in her brief career with a pair of seconds.
One to look out for is Bickersons, a Canadian-bred based at Monmouth Park who comes off a third-place finish after setting a hot pace in Saratoga's Spinaway Stakes (gr. I). Trained by Kelly Breen, who named Joe Bravo to ride, she was no match for the victorious Hot Dixie Chick, finishing more than 10 lengths behind.
Arnold Zetcher's homebred Always a Princess won her maiden debut Sept. 5 for trainer Bob Baffert, overcoming a rough start to rally for a three-quarters of a length. Maralago also broke her maiden at first asking for trainer Clifford Sise, scoring by five lengths at Fairplex Sept. 12.
Other impressive maiden winners last time out are Pure Class, who tallied by five lengths while going a mile for trainer John Sadler at Del Mar Sept. 7, and the Hollendorfer-conditioned Softly Singing, a 4 1/4-length winner at Del Mar Aug. 30.
Fairway Road, trained by Craig Dollase, won the Bustles and Bows at Fairplex Sept. 18 by four lengths, while Forbidden Paradise is proven around two turns, breaking her maiden by a nose in a one-mile turf race at Del Mar Aug. 27. It was the Irish-bred filly's first U.S. start.
Kaloula, fourth in the Barretts Debutante, and the Kruljac-trained maiden Whispering Hush, complete the field.
$300,000 Oak Leaf Stakes (gr. I, Race 6, 3 p.m.), 2-Year-old Fillies, 1 1/16 Miles (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Always a Princess (KY), G K Gomez, B Baffert
2. Whispering Hush (CA), J Valdivia, Jr., J E Kruljac
3. Repo (CA), V Espinoza, D F O'Neill
4. Forbidden Paradise (IRE), R Bejarano, D E Hofmans
5. Blind Luck (KY), T Baze, J Hollendorfer
6. Bickersons (ON), J Bravo, K J Breen
7. Pure Class (KY), M E Smith, J W Sadler
8. Softly Singing (KY), J Rosario, J Hollendorfer
9. Maralago (KY), M A Pedroza, C W Sise, Jr.
10. La Nez (CA), C Santiago Reyes, J E Kruljac
11. It Tiz (KY), J Talamo, M Glatt
12. Kaloula (FL), A O Solis, K Mulhall
13. Fairway Road (KY), A Quinonez, C Dollase
All carry 122 pounds.