Sweet Catomine heads cast for Saturday's Santa Anita Oaks.

Sweet Catomine heads cast for Saturday's Santa Anita Oaks.

Skip Dickstein

Sweet Catomine Towers Over SA Oaks Field

Champion Sweet Catomine could use the $300,000 Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I) as a springboard against males when she faces six overmatched rivals in the 1 1/16-mile race Sunday at Santa Anita Park.

A successful outing in the Oaks could mean an appearance in the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) on April 9 and perhaps the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) on May 7. Trainer Julio Canani could also opt for the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) on May 6.

Sweet Catomine, Eclipse Award champion as top 2-year-old filly of 2004, won the Santa Ysabel Stakes (gr. III) in her 3-year-old debut on Jan. 16 and has been training forwardly for the Oaks. After blowing out four furlongs Wednesday in :48, Canani pronounced the Kentucky-bred daughter of Storm Cat "ready to go."

Sweet Catomine won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) Oct. 30 at Lone Star Park and has a 4-1-0 record from five starts for owners Marty and Pam Wygod of Rancho Santa Fe.

Corey Nakatani, who was aboard Sweet Catomine for the victory in Texas, regains the mount on the bay filly. He was serving a suspension when Sweet Catomine won the Santa Ysabel with David Flores.

Nakatani has ridden such fillies as Serena's Song, Jewel Princess, and Sharp Cat and says his current star deserves mention in that company.

"She's one of the best at this juncture," he said. "She's the champion 2-year-old (filly) and won easily the two times I've ridden her. Being by Storm Cat just makes her that much more powerful. She definitely tops the list."

She breaks from the rail at equal weight with her opponents of 121 pounds.

Sweet Catomine is the only graded stakes winner in the field. California-bred Memorette came closest, nearly upsetting Sharp Lisa in the one-mile Las Virgenes (gr. I) Feb. 12 at Santa Anita. She finished second after leading in the stretch, losing by three-quarters of a length.

Charming Colleen, also in the Oaks field, finished third in the Las Virgenes, six lengths behind Memorette.

Doug O'Neill, the meet's leading trainer, sends out two fillies, including the undefeated Cream Donut Keith, an invader from Philadelphia Park where she won her debut race by nearly eight lengths. A New Jersey-bred daughter of Lion Hearted owned by J. Paul Reddam, she won her next start at Santa Anita by five lengths, going six furlongs in 1:10 flat on Feb. 3.

"She's doing great," O'Neill said. "If she routes as good as she sprints, she should be tough."

O'Neill's other entrant is Guaranteed Victory, a maiden winner who was second to Revealed by 1 1/2 lengths in an allowance/optional claiming event at Santa Anita Feb.10.

$300,000 Santa Anita Oaks, 3-year-old fillies, 1 1/16 miles
PP. Horse, Jockey
1. Sweet Catomine, Corey Nakatani
2. Memorette, Kent Desormeaux
3. She Sings, Jon Court
4. Feel The Heat, Alex Solis
5. Guaranteed Victory, Rene Douglas
6. Charming Colleen, Pat Valenzuela
7. Cream Donut Keith, Tyler Baze
Each carries 121 pounds.