Graded stakes winners Magic Storm now headlines the $300,000 Indiana Breeders' Cup Oaks (gr. III) Friday night at Hoosier Park after the scratch of 5-2 morning line favorite Lost at Sea. Nine 3-year-old fillies are expected to vie in the eighth running of the 1 1/16-mile event, its second year as a graded stakes.
John Franks & Peter Abruzzo's Lost at Sea winner of in the Singapore Plate (gr. III) at Arlington on Aug. 10, was scratched Thursday from the Indiana Breeders' Cup Oaks following a minor quarter crack problem that surfaced early this week.
"It's a very minor problem," said Abruzzo Thursday morning. "We could have run her in a bar shoe and she would have been fine. It was my decision to scratch her. I told Jerry (trainer Hollendorfer), 'Why fool around with it? She's too nice a filly to risk it for even the slightest chance of a setback.'
"What I'm really shooting for is the Sunshine Millions at Gulfstream on Jan. 25," said Abruzzo. "Lost At Sea is a Florida-bred, but I also own Royally Chosen who races out on the West Coast. She's a California-bred (conditioned by Bruce Headley who was second in Santa Anita's El Encino and La Brea last December).
"This way, I can look forward to having the top Florida-bred and the top California-bred race on the same day" said Abruzzo, 45, a Chicagoland resident who is involved in several businesses that include formal wear, banking and imported furniture.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas will send out Magic Storm, the probable favorite, in Friday's Oaks. The Storm Cat filly, owned by Marilyn Helzer, won the Monmouth Breeders' Cup Oaks (gr. II) on Aug. 2. Magic Storm has won two of five starts this season, and will start from post seven. Robby Albarado will ride. Lukas and Albarado teamed last year to capture the Indiana Derby with the Bob and Beverly Lewis-owned Orientate.
Stuart Subotnick's Anstu Stable entry Tarnished Lady figures to be a prominent player and was listed at 9-2 in the morning line before Lost at Sea's defection. The Lord Avie filly won the $50,000 Summit Stakes at Meadowlands by more than five lengths under rider Chris DeCarlo. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Tarnished Lady has won three of 11 starts this season.
Former Lukas assistant Dallas Stewart will attempt to earn his second Oaks victory in as many attempts with John Gunther's Saratoga Cat. The Sir Cat filly, carrying the second longest odds at 15-1, finished fourth in the Singapore Plate, then followed with a win in allowance company at Arlington. Saratoga Cat will start from post two with Chris Emigh up. Stewart captured the Oaks in 1998 with French Braids.
The rest of the field includes Traci's Wild (10-1, Thompson), Bare Necessities (6-1, Valdivia), Uluvitnunoit (10-1, Noll), Fly Borboleta (15-1, Guidry), Erica's Smile (8-1, Gonzalez) and Emeraldforajudge (20-1, Martin).