Brilliant Reneesgotzip returns to Del Mar Aug. 17 to defend her title in the $150,000 Rancho Bernardo Stakes (gr. III), but the racing office might have been kinder to the speedster in her first start since the 2013 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf Sprint (gr. I).
Though only five fillies and mares are signed on to face Reneesgotzip in the 6 1/2-furlong Polytrack test, two of them, Judy the Beauty and Fashion Plate are grade I winners this season. A third filly, Amaranth, nearly stole the Great Lady M Stakes (gr. II) in her most recent try and figures to be winging on the front end on the outside of Reneesgotzip.
But Reneesgotzip has faced that kind of pressure before for trainer Peter Miller while compiling a career mark of 7-4-1 in 13 races with earnings of $795,460. There aren't many that can run with her. And the 5-year-old City Zip mare, owned by Lanni Family Trust, loves Del Mar, where she is 3-for-3 on the main track and has been working in fine style for her first appearance in 9 1/2 months.
This is only the second race for Reneesgotzip since she won last year's Rancho Bernardo gate-to-wire by 4 1/4 lengths. The other race was a doozy, however, when she set a blazing pace (:21.47, :43.36 1:06.02) on the hillside course in the Filly & Mare Turf Sprint Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park before being collared in the final strides by Mizdirection.
Corey Nakatani, who last rode Reneesgotzip to a runner-up finish in the Las Virgenes Stakes (gr. I) in March 2012, is tabbed by Miller to ride the chestnut mare from gate 3 with 124 pounds.
That's one less than accepted by Judy the Beauty, who is down on the rail for owner/trainer Wesley Ward. Second in last fall's Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I), the 5-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper started the 2014 season on fire, winning Santa Anita's Las Flores (gr. III) in March before capturing the Madison Stakes for her first grade I win April 12 on Polytrack at Keeneland.
Following a fourth-place finish in the Humana Distaff (gr. I) May 3 at Churchill Downs, where she is based, she got a freshening from Ward and returns to her favored synthetic surface for her Del Mar debut.
Judy the Beauty, who leads the field with earnings of $1,022,122 while posting a 7-7-1 mark in 16 starts, will be ridden for the first time by Mike Smith. He steps in for another Hall of Fame rider, John Velazquez.
Fashion Plate won both the Las Virgenes and the Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I) this spring but the front-running filly hit a rough patch in her most recent efforts for trainer Simon Callaghan.
The 3-year-old daughter of Old Fashioned, owned by Arnold Zetcher and Michael Tabor, had a terrible start in the Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) to trail the field and finished 11th. She fared only marginally better in the one-mile Acorn Stakes (gr. I) last time out at Belmont Park, weakening to ninth after chasing the pace along the inside for a half mile.
To be ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Fashion Plate breaks from post 2 with 118 pounds in her first try against older females.
Highland Yard's stakes-winning Amaranth is another 3-year-old filly. She fared well in her first try against older in the Great Lady M, setting the pace and battling Doinghardtimeagain in the stretch before settling for second when her saddle slipped at Los Alamitos Race Course July 12. The Mr. Greeley miss, based at Golden Gate Fields for trainer O. J. Jauregui, retains jockey Dennis Carr.
Rounding out the field are stakes winner Sagebrush Queen, an even third in the Great Lady M, and Madame Cactus, winner of the Raven Run (gr. II) last October at Keeneland and making her first start of the year.
Sunday's Rancho Bernardo is the fourth on the Del Mar card with a 3:30 p.m. PDT scheduled post.
Del Mar, Sunday, August 17, 2014, Race 4
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1Judy the Beauty (ON) Mike E. Smith 125 Wesley A. Ward - 2 2Fashion Plate (KY) Rafael Bejarano 118 Simon Callaghan - 3 3Reneesgotzip (KY) Corey S. Nakatani 124 Peter Miller - 4 4Sagebrush Queen (CA) Edwin A. Maldonado 118 Jorge Gutierrez - 5 5Amaranth (KY) Dennis Carr 116 O. J. Jauregui - 6 6Madame Cactus (KY) Joseph Talamo 118 Peter Eurton -
Del Mar, Sunday, August 17, 2014, Race 4