The 3-year-old filly turf division in Southern California has been difficult to sort out all year, and it remains a puzzle heading into the $150,000 Honeymoon Handicap (gr. IIT) at Hollywood Park May 31. Six of the nine 3-year-old fillies entered also ran the Senorita Stakes (gr. IIIT) held earlier this month, although the winner, Mrs Kipling, isn't among them.
Trainer Neil Drysdale opted to skip the 1 1/8-mile Honeymoon with Bobby Flay's Mrs Kipling after her 2 1/2-length triumph as the favorite in the May 3 Senorita. The Honeymoon precedes the $700,000 American Oaks Invitational (gr. IT) July 5 and usually produces a few of the local horses for the 10-furlong international event.
Acting Lady, the top weight at 118 pounds, is among those hoping to take advantage of Mrs Kipling's absence. The Providencia Stakes (gr. IIT) winner came up short in the one-mile Senorita as one of the top choices, however.
Trained by Doug O'Neill for Andy Bell and Stephen Russell, the daughter of Theatrical bid between horses to move within a head of the leader Candilejas with a furlong to run, but faded to fourth as Mrs Kipling swept to victory.
Acting Lady won Santa Anita's one-mile Providencia April 4 by a half-length with a game stretch move, holding off Mrs Kipling in the final strides at odds of 20-1 for her second victory. She will break from post 8 with Rafael Bejarano aboard.
Candilejas was making her turf debut in the Senorita and her runner-up finish was noteworthy at odds of 37-1. The daughter of Candy Ride , trained by Ral Ayers for Robert and Lawana Low, did not get off to a great start in the Senorita after showing better early speed on synthetic tracks, and has every right to improve here. The bay filly was forced to rally four wide while holding second. Martin Garcia stays aboard.
Pride Dancer, trained and co-owned by Bobby Frankel along with Diamond Pride, showed vast improvement with a third-place effort in the Senorita following her American debut in the Providencia, when she finished last of 11.
The Irish-bred filly came to life for Joe Talamo when rallying from near the rear of the pack to miss the runner-up spot by a half-length in the Senorita. Pride Dancer began her career as a 2-year-old in France, where she had two wins, including a listed stakes victory at Longchamp, and three seconds in six starts.
Besides Acting Lady, Century Park is the only other graded stakes winner in the field. Trained by Bob Baffert for Donald Dizney, the Florida-bred daughter of General Meeting won the Santa Ysabel (gr. III) in front-running style on Santa Anita's Pro-Ride surface Jan. 11. She is winless in four starts since.
Century Park had plenty of trouble in the Senorita, when she was blocked and forced to steady at the eighth pole but ran on for a fifth-place finish.
Two others come out of the Senorita. The Irish-bred Lexlenos was slow into stride in her U.S. debut for Paddy Gallagher and came home sixth. Stakes winning Dash Dot Dash had to steady in the homestretch after pressing the pace and wound up seventh.
The Irish-bred Maid for Music won the Golden Poppy on the turf course at Golden Gate Fields in her second U.S. start April 18 for trainer James Cassidy.
Well Monied comes off back-to-back turf wins for trainer Howard Zucker and makes her stakes debut.
The Carla Gaines-trained Daylumney is also entered in her first stakes following a fourth as the favorite in an optional claiming allowance event on Hollywood's Cushion Track May 17. That was the first American start for the daughter of Daylami, whose lone victory in four tries in England came in a maiden race over a synthetic track.
$150,000 Honeymoon Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 7, 4 p.m.), 3-Year-Old Fillies, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Century Park (FL), V Espinoza, 116, B Baffert
2. Daylumney (IRE), T Baze, 113, C Gaines
3. Candilejas (KY), M Garcia, 115, R H Ayers
4. Lexlenos (IRE), A O Solis, 114, P Gallagher
5. Dash Dot Dash (KY), B Blanc, 114, V Cerin
6. Maid For Music (IRE), D R Flores, 116, J M Cassidy
7. Pride Dancer (IRE), J Talamo, 115, R J Frankel
8. Acting Lady (KY), R Bejarano, 118, D F O'Neill
9. Well Monied (KY), J Rosario, 115, H L Zucker