A year ago, Peachtree Stable and trainer Bob Baffert used the Sunland Park Oaks as a springboard to an eventual Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) win for Plum Pretty. They will attempt to follow the same path in 2012 with Princess Arabella, who some already have rated as the top 3-year-old filly in the nation despite never having tried stakes company.
Princess Arabella will take on six contenders in the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks, which precedes the $800,000 Sunland Derby (gr. III) on a 13-race card March 25 at the New Mexico racetrack. The 1 1/16-mile Oaks is set to go off at 5:13 p.m. MT.
Undefeated in two starts at Santa Anita, Princess Arabella will stretch out to two turns for the first time. She won by 3 1/2 lengths in her Dec. 31 debut going six furlongs, then returned to win an entry-level allowance race at seven furlongs by the same margin Feb. 12 as the 1-10 favorite. The daughter of Any Given Saturday will not be 1-20 as Plum Pretty was a year ago when romping by 25 lengths, but she will be heavily backed.
Martin Garcia will have the return mount on Princess Arabella, who was bred in Kentucky by Greenwich Cattle Company and is out of the Thunder Gulch mare Tortuga Lady. Baffert worked her four furlongs in :47 2/5 March 21 at Santa Anita in preparation for her stakes debut.
Four of the top five finishers of the local Feb. 26 Island Fashion Stakes at Sunland return, including the decisive winner, Glinda the Good. Owned by Stonestreet Stables and trained by Steve Asmussen, Glinda the Good won the one-mile Island Fashion by 3 1/2 lengths as the 1-2 choice. The Hard Spun filly was graded stakes-placed twice as a juvenile while winning once in five starts.
Asmussen has assigned Julien Leparoux to ride homebred Glinda the Good, who is also based at Santa Anita.
Runner-up in the Island Fashion, Ize in Trouble, is also back. Based at Sunland for trainer Weston Martin, the Proud Citizen filly was beaten a neck in her first start of the year, an allowance sprint on Feb. 12.
$200,000 Sunland Park Oaks (Race 11, 5:13 p.m.), 3YO Fillies, 1 1/16 Miles PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Feisty Flirt (KY), M Rodriguez, 121, I Green
2. Sophisticated (CA), J A Martinez, 121, M K Barber
3. Princess Arabella (KY), M Garcia, 121, B Baffert
4. Take Me Away Today (CA), L Contreras, 121, H Dominguez
5. Glinda the Good (KY), J R Leparoux, 121, S M Asmussen
6. Ize in Trouble (KY), M Hernandez, 121, W Martin
7. Regal Betty (FL), A L Castanon, 121, J W Sadler