Even though Santa Anita's main track is expected to be the stage on which Habibti and You renew their budding rivalry with other entrants in a supporting role, the track has assembled a field of nine 3-year-old fillies for Saturday's $300,000 Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I).
"Realistically, all of us are running to try to get grade I stakes-placed, so I think we're pretty much running for third," Erik Kruljac, trainer of Oaks starter Respectful said this week.
Respectful finished fourth behind You and Habibti in the Las Virgenes Stakes (gr. I) Feb. 10 and Alex Solis, who rode her in that race, will be back in the irons Saturday, which Kruljac said should help his filly.
"Alex having been on her will remedy almost every problem we have, so we'll see what happens," Kruljac said. "She's worth $300,000-$400,000 now as a broodmare, and if she is grade I-placed, her value will increase to $500,000-$600,000."
Respectful has already hit the board in a trio of graded stakes races. Prior to the Las Virgenes, Respectful (Honour and Glory--Still Wishing, by Carson City) finished second to Oaks supplemental entrant Dancing in the Santa Ynez Stakes (gr. II). In her fourth career start, she finished a distant second to Tempera in the Sorrento Stakes (gr. II) one race after finishing second in the Landaluce Stakes (gr. III).
Jim Cassidy, trainer of Daddy's Gold, also realizes going up against the two favorites will be a tough chore.
"We'll have to step it up a bit Saturday, no doubt," Cassidy said.
A winner of her last two races, the California-bred finished second to Bella Bella Bella in the restricted Golden Ballet Stakes when still a maiden.
"I thought we had a shot to beat Bella Bella Bella that day," Cassidy said. "She was a little unlucky in that race -- she got shuffled back a bit."
The field for the 1 1/16-mile Santa Anita Oaks -- from the rail out, with jockeys – will consist of:
1--Farda Amiga, Chris McCarron
2--Adoration, Mike Smith
3--Dancing, Gary Stevens
4--Daddy's Gold, Kent Desormeaux
5--You, Jerry Bailey
6--Ile De France, Alex Solis
7--Lady George, Jose Silva
8--Habibti, Victor Espinoza
9--Respectful, Alex SolisAll fillies will carry 117 pounds