Willa B Awesome, upset winner of the Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I), goes for her third graded stakes win of the year against a couple of familiar rivals in the $150,000 Hollywood Oaks (gr. II) June 23 at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Among her opponents in the 1 1/16-mile Cushion Track event for 3-year-old fillies are grade I winners Eden's Moon and Killer Graces. The Oaks, which drew a field of eight, is the eighth race on the Hollywood card with a 4:40 p.m. PDT probable post.
Owned by a partnership that includes Phil Daniels, Patsy London, John Winters, and California breeder Terry Lovingier, Willa B Awesome has won the Santa Ysabel (gr. III) this year in addition to her 13-1 surprise in the Santa Anita Oaks. The daughter of Awesome Gambler is coming off a nose victory for trainer Walther Solis in the Melair Stakes on Hollywood's Gold Rush program for state-breds April 28.
Never off the board in four races over Cushion Track, including a pair of wins, Willa B Awesome is 5-for-13 lifetime with earnings of $593,896. The 121-pound high weight will be ridden from the rail by Martin Pedroza.
Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who won the 2006 Oaks with Hystericalady, will send out a pair, Killer Graces and Via Villaggio.
Owned by a partnership that includes Hollendorfer, Daniel Borislow, Gillian Campbell, and Steve Melen, Killer Graces has three career wins, all in stakes at Hollywood, including last December's Hollywood Starlet (gr. I). In her next start, Killer Graces ran second to Willa B Awesome in the Santa Ysabel.
The daughter of Congaree also won the Cinderella and Landaluce stakes in succession during the spring/summer meet in 2011 before her 14-1 upset in the Starlet. Killer Graces is back on Cushion Track after a third-place finish in the Providencia Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Santa Anita Park in her turf debut.
No worse than second in five races over Cushion Track, Killer Graces has started 11 times and banked $432,830. Mike Smith will ride Killer Graces for the first time and they break from the far outside post.
Her stablemate Via Villaggio is owned by California Horse Racing Board member Steve Beneto. The Bernardini filly surprised Sister Moon in the seven-furlong Railbird Stakes (gr. III) over the track May 19 at odds of 10-1.
Eden’s Moon, whose biggest win came in the Las Virgenes (gr. I) March 3 at Santa Anita, makes her first appearance since a troubled last-place effort in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) May 4. She has raced at Hollywood once previously, finishing second in her maiden debut against Reneesgotzip last December.
Owned by Kaleem Shah and trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, Eden’s Moon was third behind Willa B Awesome in the Santa Anita Oaks. The daughter of Malibu Moon has won two of five and earned $238,600.
Baffert is aiming for his third win in the Hollywood Oaks after scoring with Santa Catarina (2003) and Tough Tiz’s Sis (2006).
An impressive winner versus older rivals in a June 7 allowance, Starlight Magic will be making her first appearance in a graded event.
Trained by Mark Glatt for owner Cory Wagner, the Marino Marini filly has three wins in seven attempts and a bankroll of $209,900. She has won two of three at the Oaks distance, including a 1 ¾-length victory in the California Cup Juvenile Fillies last Oct. 29. She wound up third in the Melair, 3 ½ lengths behind Willa B Awesome.
$150,000 Hollywood Oaks (gr. II, Race 8, 4:40 p.m.), 3YO Fillies, 1 1/16 Miles (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Willa B Awesome (CA), M A Pedroza, 121, W Solis
2. Starlight Magic (CA), G K Gomez, 117, M Glatt
3. Customer Base (KY), K Krigger, 115, T F Proctor
4. Eden's Moon (FL), R Bejarano, 119, B Baffert
5. Open Water (KY), V Espinoza, 115, E J Guillot
6. Potesta (KY), J Talamo, 113, M R Mitchell
7. Via Villaggio (KY), J Rosario, 115, J Hollendorfer
8. Killer Graces (KY), M E Smith, 119, J Hollendorfer
Blinkers Off: Customer Base