Although multiple grade I winner Affluent will be a deserving morning-line favorite in Sunday's grade II El Encino Stakes, it wouldn't be prudent to discount Graceful Cat's chances in the 1 1/16-mile event for 4-year-old fillies. A Washington-bred by Forest Wildcat, Graceful Cat began her career last year with three wins in six starts, including a pair of stakes wins, at Emerald Downs near Seattle. Graceful Cat finished seventh in her Southern California debut Dec. 29 in the grade I La Brea Stakes, but trainer Craig Dollase looks for an improved effort this weekend. "She needed that race," Dollase said. "I kind of had to rush her a bit to get her ready for that one, and I was pleased with her effort. She's prepped well for this one." Graceful Cat came back Jan.11 to drill four furlongs at Hollywood Park in a bullet :47.40. The field for the grade II El Encino Stakes, from the rail out, with jockeys, and weights: Castling, Kent Desormeaux, 115; Royally Chosen, Alex Solis, 117; Love At Noon, Corey Nakatani, 115; Graceful Cat, Laffit Pincay Jr., 117; Sea Reel, Garrett Gomez, 117, and Affluent, Eddie Delahoussaye, 119.
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