Bullet Grass Work for Santa Catarina; American Oaks Next

Bob & Beverly Lewis' grade II winner Santa Catarina worked five furlongs in a bullet :59 1/5 handily over the turf course at Hollywood Park Thursday in preparation for the $750,000 American Oaks on July 5. With Hall of Famer Gary Stevens in the irons for trainer Bob Baffert, the 3-year-old filly was caught galloping out the six furlongs in 1:12 and change.

"She went lights out," assistant trainer Tim Yakteen said. "I think it's safe to say she likes the turf. Gary said she really took to it so that's a good start."

After watching the work, Baffert confirmed the daughter of Unbridled will line up in the starting gate for the 1 ¼-mile grass test along with stablemate Atlantic Ocean and a probable full field of 12 other sophomore fillies. Stevens, who has ridden the filly in all four of her 2003 starts, will be back aboard for the American Oaks.

"She improved a lot in the Hollywood Oaks, and she showed me this morning it was no fluke," Stevens said. "With her action, I thought she might enjoy the turf. The idea was to relax early and come home strong. She galloped out pretty strong. It was more like a seven-furlong work. I told Bob (Baffert) there was no reason not to run."

Santa Catarina last raced June 14 where she captured the Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks (gr. II) by four lengths. She was previously second in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) and also placed second in the Del Mar Debutante (gr. I) and Frizette Stakes (gr. I) and third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) and Black Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II). Overall Santa Catarina, a $950,000 yearling purchase, has earned $600,260 from a career line of 9-3-3-2.

Across town at Santa Anita, Baffert worked grade I winner Congaree six furlongs in 1:11 3/5 in preparation for the July 13 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I). The Gold Cup is a 1 ¼-mile event worth $750,000.