Habibti Drills Bullet for Oak Leaf

The Thoroughbred Corp.'s Habibti showed her readiness for Sunday's Oak Leaf Stakes (gr. I) at Oak Tree Tuesday morning with a five-furlong drill in :58 4/5. Trainer Bob Baffert had exercise rider Dana Barnes up for the work. A win in the Oak Leaf would give Baffert his fifth straight victory in the race. His other winners have been: Vivid Angel (1997), Excellent Meeting ('98), Chilukki ('99), and Notable Career ('00).

The work was the fastest of 35 at the distance. Clocker Chuck Russell timed the Tabasco Cat filly's final two furlongs in :23 1/5.

Winner of the Del Mar Debutante (gr. I) in her last start on Aug. 26 in 1:22.22, Habibti is unbeaten in two starts. The Oak Leaf, run at one mile, will be her first start around two turns. Bred in Kentucky by Rosemont Farm, Habibti was purchased by Prince Ahmed Salman's The Thoroughbred Corp. earlier this year for $450,000 at the Barrett's March sale of 2-year-olds in training. Her dam, unraced Miss Sobriety, is a half-sister to the dam of Kentucky Oaks winner Gal in a Ruckus.

Whitewinesipper, a California-bred filly trained by Clifford Sise, is also a go for the Oak Leaf following a 1:01 2/5 drill last week. "She worked good the other day," said assistant trainer Robert Sise. "For a grade I worth $250,000, it doesn't look super tough and it's worth taking a shot."

Probables for the Oak Leaf, in which all 2-year-old fillies carry 117 pounds, are: Habibti (Victor Espinoza to ride); Imperial Gesture (Gary Stevens); Tali Lucky Bus Ride (Jose Valdiva Jr.); Whitewinesipper (Alex Solis); and Roaring Blaze (G.F. Almeida).