Fresh off an eye-catching win in her bow at Del Mar last month, the Richard Mandella-trained Avid jumps right into the deep end of the pool in the $250,000 Darley Debutante (gr. I) at the seaside track Sept. 4.
The seven-furlong test drew 12 juvenile fillies, with undefeated Wickedly Perfect the likely choice following her sharp score in the Sorrento Stakes (gr. III) Aug. 6. But Mandella was impressed enough by Avid, who defeated maidens easily by 2 1/2 lengths while in hand Aug. 1, to give her a shot here.
"She trains just gifted at whatever we've asked her to do, and we're going to hope that she can do all of it," Mandella said of the chestnut daughter of More Than Ready during a national teleconference Aug. 31.
A $525,000 Ocala Breeders' Sale purchase in March, Avid returned from her debut to post three solid published workouts, including a bullet 1:25 3/5 for seven furlongs Aug. 22. Ramona Bass owns Avid, who scored as the 11-10 choice in her first start.
Mandella, though, knows this will be a tough spot.
"Wickedly Perfect, the Congrats filly, has proven herself pretty well so far," the Hall of Fame conditioner noted. "Mine's only run once. You know, it's a lot of optimism going in, but I'm happy to have it and I love her. There's nobody that's conquered the world out here yet, but they're just babies and we've all got dreams, anyway."
Avid drew post 7 for her first stakes try and will have Del Mar's leading jockey Joel Rosario aboard.
Doug O'Neill, atop Del Mar's trainer standings, saddles Wickedly Perfect, who broke her maiden at first asking at Hollywood Park and polished off a competitive field of seven in the Sorrento. She's worked once since that game one-length triumph, going an easy six furlongs in 1:14 2/5 Aug. 27.
Rafael Bejarano, second to Rosario in the riding standings as of Sept. 1, retains the mount on the $70,000 purchase at Ocala's April sale of 2-year-olds in training. They break from post 2 with high weight of 122 pounds.
The next three finishers in the Sorrento also return in the Debutante -- A Z Warrior, Izshelegal and She'll Heir.
A Z Warrior, trained by Bob Baffert for Zayat Stables, won first time out at Hollywood Park before getting shaded following a good finish for Martin Garcia in the Sorrento.
Izshelegal, one of the two $10,000 supplemental entries in the field, is still a maiden, having finished second and third in her two outings. Trainer Terry Knight was no doubt encouraged by her big late run in the Sorrento, in which she finished just a head behind A Z Warrior, to take s chance. The daughter of Maria's Mon out of an A.P. Indy mare brought a price of $130,000 at the 2009 Keeneland September yearling sale.
Knight has said all along that he expects Izshelegal, who will be ridden again by Victor Espinoza, to only improve with added distance.
She'll Heir, trained by Vladimir Cerin for major clients David and Holly Wilson, won her first two outings, including Hollywood Park's Cinderella Stakes, but is winless in her last two starts, the Landaluce Stakes at Hollywood and the Sorrento. She drew the rail and will be ridden for the first time by Brice Blanc.
Others coming into the race from victories are Sugarinthemorning, a California-bred daughter of Candy Ride trained by Hall of Famer Ron McAnally; Ike and Dawn Thrash's Tell a Kelly, trained by John Sadler, a maiden winner at Del Mar Aug. 15; and $10,000 supplemental hope Rigoletta, a Del Mar maiden winner Aug. 8 in her second start for trainer Dan Hendricks.
Righteous Renee, second to Avid the last time, Big Tiz and Distant Glow are all maidens. Righteous Renee brought $210,000 at Barretts in May.
$250,000 Darley Debutante (gr. I, Race 8, 5:30 p.m.), 2-Year-Old Fillies, 7 Furlongs (Synthetic)
PP. Horse, Jcoeky, Weight, Trainer
1. She'll Heir (FL), B Blanc, 120, V Cerin
2. Wickedly Perfect (FL), R Bejarano, 122, D F O'Neill
3. Tell a Kelly (FL), A Quinonez, 118, J W Sadler
4. Righteous Renee (KY), D R Flores, 116, M Conlon
5. Big Tiz (KY), C S Nakatani, 116, M Glatt
6. Sugarinthemorning (CA), P A Valenzuela, 118, R L McAnally
7. Avid (KY), J Rosario, 118, R E Mandella
8. Rigoletta (FL), M E Smith, 118, D L Hendricks
9. Gone Rebel (LA), P Atkinson, 118, V Cerin
10. A Z Warrior (KY), M Garcia, 118, B Baffert
11. Distant Glow (CA), K John, 116, J Lloyd
12. Izshelegal (KY), V Espinoza, 116, T Knight