Las Palmas Brings Down Curtain at Oak Tree

Las Palmas Brings Down Curtain at Oak Tree
Photo: Benoitphoto.com
Turning Top is a three-time winner on the Hollywood Park turf.
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Turning Top, a three-time winner on the Hollywood Park turf, is the 119-pound high weight for the $150,000 Las Palmas Handicap (gr. IIT) on closing day of the Oak Tree Racing Association meet Oct. 31.

Trained by Simon Callaghan for owner Michael Tabor, the 4-year-old Irish-bred filly just missed a possible berth in the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf (gr. IT) when she finished a close second to Hibaayeb in the Yellow Ribbon Stakes (gr. IT) over the Hollywood course Oct. 2. Turning Top won the Beverly Hills Handicap (gr. IIIT) and Redondo Beach Stakes, as well as allowance race in succession this year at Hollywood.

In the 10-furlong Yellow Ribbon, the daughter of Pivotal led past the eighth pole after pressing a solid pace but could not hold off Hibaayeb late, losing by one length.

Turning Top will be shortening up here, but won the Redondo Beach by a head at the Las Palmas distance of one mile. She is the most likely to be favored in a well-matched field of eight fillies and mares. The Las Palmas is the seventh race on the final program of the Oak Tree season, which was held at Hollywood Park for the first time. Post time is 4 p.m. PDT.

Regular rider Brice Blanc is aboard Turning Top, who has won four of eight United States starts since transferring to Southern California for the 2010 campaign. A lifetime earner of $226,943, the dark bay will break from post 7. Turning Top worked a good five furlongs in 1:01 2/5 on Cushion Track Oct. 25, convincing Callaghan to enter her.

An interesting newcomer to the female turf ranks is Earle Mack's British-bred 3-year-old filly Blue Maiden, now in the barn of Richard Mandella.

An impressive allowance winner in her second United States start Oct. 3, the daughter of Medicean has earned a return in the handicap ranks, trainer Richard Mandella said recently.

“She improved very nicely second time out and we hope she improves a little more again,” said Mandella. Blue Maiden will be ridden back by Joel Rosario following her 2 1/4-length score in the 1 1/16-mile allowance test.

Blue Maiden was well meant in the United Kingdom, where she recorded one first and four seconds in eight starts before joining the Mandella stable this summer. P.J. McBride previously trained her, running her in both the English One Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) at Newmarket and the Irish One Thousand Guineas (Ire-I) at the Curragh this May. She was unplaced in both.

Blue Maiden breezed three furlongs in :36 3/5 seconds over Cushion Track Oct. 28.

One of Blue Maiden’s Las Palmas opponents, Gary Middlebrook's homebred Distinctive, is another 3-year-old English import. She finished in front of Blue Maiden in the English One Thousand Guineas when fifth.

Distinctive ran ninth in the Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT) in her stateside bow in August, her most recent start, pulling early before tiring. The group III winner worked five furlongs in 1:01 3/5 for trainer Paddy Gallagher Oct. 24. A daughter of Tobougg, she will have a new rider in Victor Espinoza.

Gallagher also entered the English-bred Princess Taylor, who finished sixth in the Yellow Ribbon. The 6-year-old Singspiel mare has had a good 2010 after shipping to the states for owner Dr. Ronan Lambe. Her results include a listed stakes win at Del Mar, a close second to Turning Top in the Beverly Hills, and a third-place showing behind Zenyatta in the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (gr. I) on Del Mar's Polytrack.

Arnold Zetcher's Wynning Ride, twice placed in grade I events, makes her turf debut for trainer Bob Baffert. The 4-year-old Canadian-bred daughter of Candy Ride   has not been out since registering her first stakes victory in the Iowa Distaff at Prairie Meadows June 25.

Wynning Ride leads the field in earnings with $308,108. Martin Garcia, who has won two of three starts with one second aboard the chestnut filly this year, retains the mount.

Briecat and Value Stream, second and third respectively in Oak Tree's five-horse Swingtime Stakes, and Westwood Pride, making her initial stakes try for trainer Kristin Mulhall, complete the field. Briecat is likely to set the pace in the Las Palmas.

$150,000 Las Palmas Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 7, 4 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 Mile (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Briecat (FL), P A Valenzuela, 116, V Cerin
2. Westwood Pride (KY), R Bejarano, 113, K Mulhall
3. Distinctive (GB), J Talamo, 113, P Gallagher
4. Blue Maiden (GB), J Rosario, 113, R E Mandella
5. Wynning Ride (ON), M Garcia, 116, B Baffert
6. Princess Taylor (GB), V Espinoza, 117, P Gallagher
7. Turning Top (IRE), B Blanc, 119, S Callaghan
8. Value Stream (KY), D R Flores, 115, N D Drysdale

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