Buffy, Atlantic Ocean to Battle in San Clemente

Led by multiple graded stakes winners Buffythecenterfold and Atlantic Ocean, a field of nine 3-year-old fillies go to the gate for Saturday's $250,000 San Clemente Handicap (gr. IIT) at one mile on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course.

The San Clemente is the final tune-up for the $300,000 Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT) scheduled for Aug. 24 as a companion feature to the $1 million Pacific Classic (gr. I).

Buffythecenterfold, owned by Allen Brian and Stronach Stables and trained by Mel Stute, made quite a splash as a 2-year-old by winning Hollywood Park's Landaluce Stakes (gr. III) and Del Mar's Sorrento Stakes (gr. II) before finishing seventh in the Del Mar Debutante (gr. I). She has two wins, including the Santa Paula Stakes at Santa Anita and the Railbird (gr. III) at Hollywood, in four outings this year.

Atlantic Ocean, trained by Bob Baffert for The Thoroughbred Corp., has two wins, two seconds and a third in six starts this year. Her victories came in Santa Isabel (gr. III) at Santa Anita and the Sunshine Millions Oaks at Calder Race Course. She finished second in the Fair Grounds Oaks and the Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap (both gr. II) at Hollywood and marked up a third-place finish in Hollywood Park's rich American Oaks.

Victor Espinoza will ride Buffythecenterfold and Patrick Valenzuela will be in the irons aboard Atlantic Ocean.

Something of a mystery horse in the race is the French-bred Cellamare, who will be making her American debut after posting three wins in seven lifetime starts in France. She was bought recently by Bernard Schiappa and Terrence Lanni and sent to the barn of Frank Monteleone. New York Yankees manager Joe Torre has reportedly bought an interest in the horse.

Cellamare scored her first win of this year in her most recent start in France, the Prix de Floralis International at Nantes, where she won by a neck at a mile on the turf. Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens has the call.

$250,000 San Clemente Handicap (gr. IIT), 3-year-old fillies, 1 mile on turf
PP. Horse, Wgt., Jockey
1. Katdogawn, 116, Mike Smith
2. Atlantic Ocean, 120, Patrick Valenzuela
3. Cellamare, 116, Gary Stevens
4. Bukat Timah, 116, Corey Nakatani
5. Valentine Dancer, 116, Kent Desormeaux
6. Welcome Millenium, 118, Alex Solis
7. Buffythecenterfold, 118, Victor Espinoza
8. Star Vega, 116, Julie Krone
9. Fencelineneighbor, 114, Jose Valdivia Jr.