Champion Stardom Bound faces 9 in the Santa Anita Oaks.<br><a target="blank" href="">Order This Photo</a>

Champion Stardom Bound faces 9 in the Santa Anita Oaks.
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Santa Anita Oaks: 9 Battle Stardom Bound

Champion filly puts her four-race grade I winning streak on the line.

Stardom Bound, who could be headed for the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) next month, puts her four-race grade I victory streak on the line in the $300,000 Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I) March 7.

A surprisingly large group of nine 3-year-old fillies was named in the 1 1/16-mile Pro-Ride test against Stardom Bound. The 2008 champion 2-year-old filly kicked off her sophomore campaign with a facile 1 1/4-length win Feb. 7 in the one-mile Las Virgenes (gr. I). All starters carry 122 pounds.

Purchased for $5.7 million by IEAH Stables following her smashing victory in last October’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) at Santa Anita, Michael Ivarone, who heads the partnership, promptly put the Santa Anita Derby and a date with the males on the new ownership group’s agenda.

Provided she takes care of business as expected under jockey Mike Smith, the attention of the exciting gray filly will be turned to the Santa Anita Derby and a possible encounter with Pioneerof the Nile  and The Pamplemousse on April 4. Winning Colors, the last filly to have won the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) in 1988, used Santa Anita’s premier race for 3-year-olds as the springboard. Trainer Bobby Frankel will want to see something special from the late-running Stardom Bound before that happens, however.

Stardom Bound was stuck with the rail post for the Santa Anita Oaks, but since the daughter of Tapit  is likely to drop out to the rear of the pack anyway, it may not matter much. She'll be facing a number of lightly-raced fillies, however.

The champion has won four of six starts and $1,600,600 in her career.

Her main rival figures to be the front-running Beltene, the winner of the six-furlong Sunshine Millions Oaks at Santa Anita Jan. 24, who is undefeated in three starts. Beltene defeated Oaks rival Hooh Why by a head in a game try after Hooh Why had gained the lead in deep stretch. The California-bred daughter of Unusual Heat will be making her first route try with regular rider Joel Rosario in the irons.

Hooh Why, a Florida-bred filly by Cloud Hopping trained by Carla Gaines, has finished in the money in seven of eight starts. The chestnut is seeking her first stakes win. Hooh Why competed at Woodbine during most of her juvenile campaign, finishing second by a head to Patena in the Display Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Polytrack Dec. 6.

Will O Way has won a couple of stakes at Golden Gate Fields, most recently capturing the 1 1/16-mile California Oaks by a nose for trainer Vladimir Cerin Jan. 31. The daughter of Broken Vow  has won three of seven starts.

Burg Berg, winner of back-to-back races for Paco Gonzalez and John and Cheryl Toffan, tries stakes company for the first time.

Frankel also entered Acronym for Juddmonte Farms. The daughter of Empire Maker  broke her maiden at second asking Jan. 23. She starts from the far outside and will have David Flores aboard.

Miss Silver Brook, a debut winner Jan. 11 for Julio Canani, came back three weeks later to run fourth as the favorite in the La Habra Stakes (gr. IIIT) on Santa Anita's hillside turf course.

Other maiden winners in the field include Nan, who ran fourth in the Las Virgenes, and Third Dawn. The maiden Stormy Slew completes the field.

$300,000 Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I, Race 7, 3:07 p.m.), 3-Year-Old Fillies, 1 1/16 Miles (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey
1. Stardom Bound (KY), Mike E. Smith
2. Burg Berg(KY), Tyler Baze
3. Miss Silver Brook (KY), Alex O. Solis
4. Hooh Why (FL), Robby Albarado
5. Stormy Slew (KY), John R. Velazquez
6. Nan (KY), Corey S. Nakatani
7. Will O Way (KY), Russell A. Baze
8. Beltene (CA), Joel Rosario
9. Third Dawn (KY), Rafael Bejarano
10. Acronym (KY), David R. Flores
All carry 122 pounds.