Cinemine Stakes winner Storm Mesa takes on nine rivals in the Iowa Oaks.

Cinemine Stakes winner Storm Mesa takes on nine rivals in the Iowa Oaks.

Lone Star Park

Storm Mesa Hoping For More in Iowa Oaks

The Sky Mesa filly has won three in a row and now seeks her first graded stakes

Vastly improving with every start, Storm Mesa now faces her toughest competition to date and seeks the biggest payday of her career when she takes on nine rivals in the $200,000 Iowa Oaks (gr. III) June 27 at Prairie Meadows.

The 3-year-old daughter of Sky Mesa  enters the 1 1/16-mile main track contest on a three-race win streak. All of the wins came in Louisiana, and each of them was more impressive than the last. The bay filly will now have to continue her top form in order to take down some pretty talented fillies, including Alina and Rasierra, each of whom has won stakes this season and faced some of the top sophomore fillies in the nation.

After losing the first five starts of her career, Storm Mesa finally broke through March 13 when she captured a one-mile maiden special weight event by 1 3/4 lengths at Fair Grounds. Six weeks later she went to Lone Star Park and dominated in allowance company, drawing off in the stretch to win by more than eight lengths. Trainer Bret Calhoun moved the bay filly into stakes competition May 26 and she responded with authority, scoring by 13 1/2 lengths in the seven-furlong Cinemine at Lone Star.

“It was just mental maturity,” said Calhoun of Storm Mesa’s rapid improvement. “She always had talent but hadn’t put it all together in a race. The first time she went two turns (Feb. 22 at Fair Grounds), she kind of got lost and pulled herself up. But a light came on and she is just a professional racehorse now.

“We think she has potential to be one of the best 3-year-old fillies in the country. She has just improved by leaps and bounds. I don’t expect her to run back to her numbers last time, but I still think she can progress, and if she does anything close to that, she should be able to compete very well.”

Bred in Kentucky by M & N Mazzoni, Storm Mesa is out of the Pleasant Colony mare Narjis Flower. She was an $80,000 purchase for Richard Davis at the OBS 2007 Spring Sale of 2-year-olds in training. Davis originally sent her to trainer Tim Yakteen in California, but after two off the board defeats on synthetic surfaces gave her to Calhoun.

Eddie Martin Jr., aboard for the last two wins, gets the Iowa Oaks mount. The 4-1 second choice has been working at Churchill Downs and shipped to Prairie Meadows June 25.

“She looks like a million bucks,” Calhoun said. “She sure seems like she’s in top form.”

Morning line favorite honors were given to Savorthetime Stables’ Alina. The daughter of Came Home enters off consecutive fourth-place finishes in grade III events at Churchill Downs – the Dogwood and La Troienne. Prior to those starts Alina looked to be on her way big things, as she devoured the competition in the March 1 Green Oaks at Delta Downs, winning by a whopping 18 3/4 lengths. One month later she nearly took down Eight Belles in the Fantasy (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park, as she led for much of the 1 1/16-mile contest before being collared in the final strides to lose by three-quarters of a length.

Bred in Kentucky by Glencrest Farms and trained by Steve Asmussen, Alina will have the services of Luis Quinonez, who rode in the Fantasy.

Asmussen will also saddle Heather Stark's Sky Mom, who was second to Storm Mesa in the Cinemine and has won two stakes events this season.

Lloyd DeBruycker’s Rasierra has the advantage of winning twice over the Prairie Meadows dirt. The daughter of Kafwain broke her maiden there last June and most recently, scored by 1 1/4 lengths in the one-mile Panthers Stakes June 7. In that one the bay filly defeated current Iowa Oaks entrants Day of Victory and Timely Reflection. Trainer Ray Tracy obviously thought highly of Rasierra before the Panthers, as he entered her in the May 2 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). She finished eighth.

Also to consider is Larry Jones trainee Maren’s Meadow. The Meadowlake filly had a bad trip in the May 16 Black Eyed Susan (gr. II) at Pimlico and finished last, but prior to that won the Bourbonette Oaks (gr. III) on the Turfway Park Polytrack.

Post time is 9:45 p.m. EDT and immediately proceeds the $250,000 Iowa Derby.

$200,000 Iowa Oaks (gr. III, Race 8, 9:45 p.m.), Three-Year-Old Fillies, 1 1/16 Miles (Dirt)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey, Odds
1. Timely Reflection (KY), 115, Richard Monterrey, 15-1
2. Hartigan (MD), 115, Jozbin Santana, 8-1
3. Storm Mesa (KY), 118, Eddie Martin Jr., 4-1
4. Maren's Meadow (ON), 121, Terry Thompson, 5-1
5. Day of Victory (KY), 115, Calvin Borel, 8-1
6. Alina (KY), 118, Luis Quinonez, 7-2
7. Tight Precision (FL), 112, Miguel Mena, 12-1
8. Miss Missle (KY), 112, Rohan Singh, 12-1
9. Sky Mon (KY), 121, Shaun Bridgmohan, 6-1
10. Rasierra (KY) 115, Shane Laviolette, 9-2