Sircat Sally Faces Stiff Test in San Clemente

If everything goes right for Joe Turner's Sircat Sally, the California-bred filly will face increasingly tougher tests as the year progresses.

In seven starts so far, the undefeated daughter of Surf Cat has answered every one of her connections' questions.

After a five-length debut win, how would she compare to Cal-bred stakes company? As she drew off to win the Soviet Problems Stakes at Los Alamitos Race Course in December by 12 lengths, the answer was clear. But how would she handle the grass? She handled it pretty well in a 2 1/4-length score in the California Cup Oaks on the Santa Anita Park turf in January. She's a good Cal-bred, but how about open company? Her last four victories have been against open fields (including three graded events), including her last win in the Honeymoon Stakes (G2T). 

But now the questions get a bit harder to answer. In the $200,000 San Clemente Handicap (G2T) July 23 at Del Mar, the Jerry Hollendorfer trainee will face the toughest field of her career.

Only one other filly in the group of nine is a graded winner—Speedway Stable's Noted and Quoted, a grade 1 winner on dirt, will try turf for the first time—but there are both talented locals and out of towners seeking their breakthrough score.

"On Sunday we'll have some answers," said Turner, who indicated the target of Sircat Sally's summer at Del Mar is the Aug. 19 Del Mar Oaks (G1T). "We'll really find out how good she is in this race. She's never really been tested. She's never been challenged, so we'll see."

One of the most compelling challengers is Kentucky-bred, French-raced import Enthrall, a Bernardini  filly who will make her first start for trainer Brendan Walsh in the one-mile grass event. A two-time winner in France from three starts, including a two-length allowance win at Chantilly June 23, Enthrall will be Walsh's first starter at the San Diego County racetrack.

"I've always heard good things about Del Mar, so with the Breeders' Cup here, I'm gonna look and see for myself," said Walsh, who added the filly will likely head to Kentucky after the San Clemente. "She hasn't done much wrong in France and she's bred to run on dirt just as much as turf, so if turf doesn't work out, that's an option.

"We're going to run her off the plane and see what we have in relation to the American fillies. It's kind of an unknown for her, so we'll see how her form from France holds up in America. It's a move that has worked out well in the past. It's basically a question of how good she is."

The other invader from the East is the Christophe Clement-trained Lull, a War Front  filly who last raced in Southern California when she came in fourth—just 2 1/4 lengths behind winner New Money Honey—in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1T). Her two starts at 3 have been a seventh-place run in the Appalachian Stakes (G3T) at Keeneland and a nose second to Morticia in the Soaring Softly Stakes at Belmont Park

Of the local challengers, Kenda (Special Goddess Stakes) and Blame It On Alphie (a July 2 optional-claiming allowance at Santa Anita) are both entering the San Clemente off victories.

Entries: San Clemente H. (G2T)

Del Mar, Sunday, July 23, 2017, Race 7

  • Grade IIT
  • 1m
  • Turf
  • $200,000
  • 3 yo Fillies
  • 5:03 PM (local)
11Noted and Quoted (FL)Martin Garcia121Bob Baffert8/1
22Storm the Hill (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateKent J. Desormeaux118Peter Miller12/1
33Lull (KY)Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.120Christophe Clement7/2
44Enthrall (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateRafael Bejarano118Brendan P. Walsh5/1
55Kenda (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateTyler Baze119Philip D'Amato15/1
66Spy Ring (IRE)Victor Espinoza117James M. Cassidy12/1
77Sircat Sally (CA)Drayden Van Dyke125Jerry Hollendorfer8/5
88Blame It On Alphie (KY)Flavien Prat118Richard E. Mandella6/1
99Madam Dancealot (IRE)Jamie Theriot119Richard Baltas15/1