French Lady Invited to American Oaks

(from Hollywood Park notes)
French Lady, a New Zealand import which joined the Neil Drysdale stable last week, was extended an alternate invitation Sunday to the $750,000 American Oaks (gr. I) July 3 by Hollywood Park racing secretary Martin Panza.

French Lady – a maiden but a group I stakes runner-up – replaces House of Fortune, who will remain on dirt after winning the Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks (gr. II) on June 12 for trainer Ron McAnally.

Owned by George Strawbridge, French Lady finished eleventh at 7 ½ furlongs in Australia on June 5 but ran well in two 1 1/2-mile group I races earlier this year. She finished second in the Australian Jockey Club Oaks in April and fourth in the New Zealand Oaks in January.

French Lady becomes the third New Zealand-bred filly invited to the 1 1/4-mile Oaks on turf. She joins Boulevardofdreams, who arrived last week with trainer Wayne Hillis, and Eternal Melody, who is scheduled to be flown to Hollywood Park Wednesday from New York for trainer Bobby Frankel.

Southern Hemisphere horses from Australia and New Zealand are 4 because of the different breeding seasons that begin in July. Most autumn foals are an average of six months older than their North American and European rivals, who are 3 and born in the spring. New Zealand/Australia fillies are running for the first time in the third edition of the American Oaks.

The 14 invitees (with partial jockey assignments) are as follows: Boulevardofdreams (Gary Grylls), Dance in the Mood (Yutaka Take), Eternal Melody (Alex Solis), Hollywood Story (Patrick Valenzuela), Kalatuna (no rider), Lovely Rafaela (no rider), Mambo Slew (Mike Smith), Miss Vegas (Javier Santiago), Misty Heights (Victor Espinoza), Steel Princess (Tyler Baze), Ticker Tape (Kent Desormeaux), Western Hemisphere (David Flores), Western Ransom (no rider) and French Lady (no rider).

In other Oaks developments, California-bred Western Hemisphere worked six furlongs in a bullet 1:12 at Santa Anita for trainer Bob Baffert, who finished three-four in the race last year with Atlantic Ocean and Santa Catarina.

Senorita Stakes winner Miss Vegas worked an easy six furlongs on turf in 1:13 4/5 under exercise rider Marco Ramirez for Frankel, who also nominated the Italian import to the Flawlessly Stakes at one mile on grass the same day.