Memorette Gets Green Light for American Oaks

(from Hollywood Park notes)
Trainer Bill Currin gave Memorette the green light for the $750,000 American Oaks (gr. IT) at Hollywood Park on July 3 after the 3-year-old filly worked five furlongs in 59 seconds over the course Wednesday morning in her first drill on grass.

"She handled the turf nice; I just hand-rode her," said exercise rider Carlos Aguilar after the work in tandem with stablemate Commandant.

"Exactly according to plan," said Currin, who trains the California-bred filly for his wife, Betty. "I got her in 59 and out (six furlongs) in 1:12 2/5."

Memorette has earned $402,257 in 12 starts on the main track but Currin thinks the daughter of Memo out of the Shahrastani mare Forever Fondre should like grass. "This is her first time ever on turf and I figured she would be good," said Currin.

"Memo is not known for turf horses here but in Chile it's about 50-50," he added. "Her dam's side leans toward grass too. Her grand-dam, Fondre, could run on grass or dirt."

Currin has engaged the services of jockey Kent Desormeaux, who won the American Oaks last year on longshot Ticker Tape. Desormeaux is scheduled to return to the United States Monday after spending most of the last two months riding in Japan.

"Kent loves this filly and suggested she would excel on grass because of her late kick," said Currin.

In other American Oaks developments:

Racing secretary Martin Panza issued invitations to Hallowed Dream from England and Sweet Firebird from Ireland, replacing defections Karen's Caper from England and Grat from Kentucky.

Sweet Firebird won the Irish Stallion Farms maiden special weight race on May 26 at the Oaks distance of 10 furlongs. She is trained by Dermot Weld and owned by Joseph Higgins, the same connections that won the race two years ago with Dimitrova.

Sweet Firebird's dam is Fire the Groom, runner-up in the 1991 Beverly Hills Handicap for trainer Bill Shoemaker and owner R.D. Hubbard, who bred Sweet Firebird. Alex Solis, who won the 2002 Oaks inaugural aboard Megahertz, has taken the call.

Hallowed Dream, trained by Clive Brittain for owner Gary Tanaka, finished second in the Italian Oaks (Ity-I) as a maiden in her last start on June 18.

Japanese star Cesario cleared quarantine Wednesday after being flown to Southern California from Japan Monday, a 16-hour journey that began in Osaka and stopped to refuel in Anchorage, Alaska, before landing at Los Angeles International Airport. Regular rider Yuichi Fukanaga has the call on the filly, who recorded her fourth victory in five starts in the Japanese Oaks (Jpn-I) on May 22.

Trainer Bobby Frankel said from New York that unbeaten Melhor Ainda would be flown June 30 and again be ridden by John Velazquez, who guided her to her fourth victory in the Sands Point Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Belmont on June 5. "She's pretty good," said Frankel of the Pulpit filly owned by T N T Stud of Brazil. Frankel also said that Louvain, winner of a Miesque Stakes division at Hollywood in November and sixth in the Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) on June 5, would return in the Oaks with Victor Espinoza.

Jerry Bailey has been named to ride Three Degrees, winner of the Honeymoon for Paddy Gallagher, while David Flores has taken a call on Honeymoon runner-up Thatswhatimean.

Gary Stevens will ride Silver Cup, who won the Italian One Thousand Guineas (Ity-II) in her last start. Italian trainer Giuseppe Botti will send her out in the Oaks. She will remain in the United States with trainer Patrick Biancone.

Kieren Fallon will ride Luas Line, third-place finisher in the Irish One Thousand Guineas (Ire-I) for trainer David Wachman. Silk and Scarlet, winner of the Robert Griffin Debutante (Ire-II) at The Curragh last year for Aidan O'Brien, and Isla Cozzene, third-place finisher in the Honeymoon for Marcelo Polanco, are also expected to accept invitations.

Trainer Neil Drysdale said a Thursday turf work scheduled for Splendid Blended, winner of the Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) on the main track, would help clarify her status for the Oaks.