Formal Miss Takes on 11 in Lone Star Oaks

(from Lone Star report)
Formal Miss, a South Florida stakes winner preparing for the upcoming Saratoga meeting, is the 5-2 favorite for Friday night's $100,000 Walmac Lone Star Oaks.

The 1 1/16-mile turf race is the featured event on the July 4 card at Lone Star.

A 3-year-old filly by the excellent Florida-based stallion Formal Dinner, the Paul Maxwell-trained Formal Miss has won three of eight starts with two places and a show. The consistent runner won her last start in the $40,000 Lenta Stakes at Calder Race Course and was second in the Herecomestherbride Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park earlier this year.

Formal Miss was vanned from Florida early last week and has acclimated well, according to her trainer.

"She couldn't be doing any better," Maxwell said Wednesday morning after entering for Friday's race. "I'm very pleased."

Maxwell, a former jockey in New York and Canada who used to work on the Lone Star Park backstretch as assistant to trainer Jim Gaston, had this race in his sights since Formal Miss won her first allowance race at Calder in October. Following Friday's race, Formal Miss will be pointed to the Lake George (gr. IIIT) and Lake Placid (gr. IIT), a pair of two-turn turf stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Saratoga.

Leading jockey Eddie Martin Jr. will ride Formal Miss in his first attempt at breaking the record of seven Lone Star Park stakes wins in a season, a mark he shares with Marlon St. Julien.

The lone shipper will face a very strong group of locals. Eleven Texas-based fillies line up against Formal Miss.

Trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel, whose proficiency with turf horses is well known, has two recent allowance winners entered. Both fillies will be making their first start on the grass.

Heart of the Cat, 12-1 on the morning line, has two allowance wins at the meeting and has already defeated many in this field.

"She's not done much wrong her last couple outs," Von Hemel said. "April's Lucky Boy is her half-brother and he's better on the turf, so if she's better on the turf we're in good shape."

April's Lucky Boy is a multiple stakes winner who scored impressively here two weeks ago in a tough "non-winners of three other than" allowance on the turf over stakes winners One Eyed Joker and Smilin' Slew.

Von Hemel's best shot is probably with Clear in the West, the 7-2 second choice on the morning line. The undefeated Gone West filly broke her maiden at Oaklawn Park in April and jumped up to easily win a second-level allowance here in May.

"She's relatively inexperienced, but she's been impressive," Von Hemel said. "And she'll take to the turf fine."

The trainer noted that Clear in the West had a nice workout over the Lone Star Park turf course last month. Another point in Clear in the West's favor is the presence of Don Pettinger, who rides first-call for Von Hemel and is the regular jockey for both of these fillies.

Whoever trainer Steve Asmussen ends up running figures to have a big chance. The trainer entered two whose pedigrees suggest they should excel under these conditions. Corey Lanerie is named to ride both.

Tiva's Little Sis, half of an entry that is 9-2 on the morning line, got her first win in seven tries last time out in a maiden special weight run over a sloppy main track. She has had three strong efforts on the grass this year, not surprising for a daughter of the excellent Grade I turf winner Labeeb.

The other half of the Asmussen entry is recent allowance winner Beautiful Spy, who has won two of three since switching to the turf for owner/trainer Asmussen. She is a half-sister to Royal Spy, the 2001 Lone Star Park Champion Turf Horse who has gone on to win major stakes at Churchill Downs and Fair Grounds. Asmussen is tied for sixth in the owner standings with 10 wins and scores at more than 30% with his horses.

Beautiful Spy breezed four furlongs in :48 1/5 on Wednesday for trainer Steve Asmussen.

Another interesting local is Sea Bloom, 15-1 on the morning line, who was two for three on the turf entering her last race. At 3-5 in a tough allowance spot on the grass, jockey E.J. Perrodin eased Sea Bloom in the stretch.

"E.J. thinks she hit the side of the gate and kind of hurt her stifle a little bit," trainer Sam David Jr. said. "He said that going into the far turn she just didn't feel like she handled it real good. Rather than take a chance by pressing her, he just eased her up."

David said there was no evidence of any injury following the race and the filly has trained well since that incident.

"She came back and worked on the turf last Monday (June 23) and looked good," David said. "When she runs her 'A' race, she's a real nice filly. She's just not real consistent."

Petionville Indeed breezed four furlongs in :49 on Monday for trainer Dallas Keen. The Petionville filly is owned by Everest Stables, who have won seven of 18 starters for a 39% clip, easily the highest of any top 10 owner. They have finished in the money with 72% of their starters.

$100,000 Walmac Lone Star Oaks, 3-year-old fillies, 1 1/16 mile on turf
1. Clear in the West (Don Pettinger, 7-2)
2. Heart of the Cat (Kevin Cogburn, 12-1)
3. Sea Bloom (E.J. Perrodin, 15-1)
4. Petionville Indeed (Terry Stanton, 15-1)
5. Tiva's Little Sis (Lanerie, 9-2)
6. Page Me Later (Adrian Ramos, 30-1)
7. Formal Miss (Eddie Martin Jr., 5-2)
8. My Misty Princess (Jeff Jerman, 20-1)
9. Beautiful Spy (Lanerie, 9-2)
10. Run Sarah Run (Jamie Theriot, 5-1)
11. Prom Date (Weldon Cloninger Jr., 10-1)
12. Lady Mallory (Jeremy Beasley, 12-1)