Lady of Shamrock enters Saturday’s Grade I $300,000 Del Mar Oaks with three stakes victories in her last four starts, two of them graded events with the most recent being the Grade I American Oaks on July 14 at Hollywood Park.
The second, third and fifth-place finishers in the American Oaks -- My Gi Gi, Best Present Ever and Stormy Lucy – are among eight rivals in the 1 1/8-mile turf event for which Lady of Shamrock is the 8-5 morning line favorite.
The 3-year-old daughter of Scat Daddy, owned by Hronis Racing LLC, started her run of excellent form with a victory in the China Doll at Santa Anita in March and followed that with another win in the Grade III Providencia in April. A nose defeat to My Gi Gi in the Grade II Honeymoon in June at Hollywood Park was avenged in the American Oaks.
“In the Honeymoon, she really had a bad luck trip,” Sadler said. “She didn’t get out (for running room) until too late and we were giving (My GiGi) seven pounds.
“She’s had four works here, worked very well on Monday (6 furlongs, 1:12.60 on Polytrack) and she has a lot of natural staying ability.
“She won at a mile and an eighth at Santa Anita ( Providencia). She won at a mile and a quarter at Hollywood Park (American Oaks). So the mile and an eighth here should be good for us.”
If there’s reason for confidence in the camp of Lady of Shamrock, there’s reason for optimism for the connections of My Gi Gi.
“She’s as good as she’s been for her last couple races, so we’re pretty happy about that,” said Peter Eurton , who trains the daughter of E Dubai-Relish The Thought for owners Conner & Jacobsen.
“You never look forward to battling horses like Lady of Shamrock but it’s always fun,” Eurton said. “She’s not the only one we have to worry about, there’s nine other ones. There’s Eden’s Moon, she’s a very talented filly and several other good ones.”
“In the American Oaks, Shamrock got a great trip and we got a little stuck there for a second. The race before that, (Lady of Shamrock) got stuck when she was much the best, really. The last one was more of an equalizer with both carrying the same weight.
“Her last race gave us hopes that we can go a lot farther than her (breeding) would suggest. E Dubai (progeny) aren’t supposed to go that far, but she does have stamina on the dam’s side of the pedigree.”
Bob Baffert-trained Eden’s Moon, a wire-to-wire winner of the one-mile Grade II San Clemente Handicap here on July 22 in her first start on grass, is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line.
“Eden’s Moon will be out there winging and it will be interesting to see if anyone puts (early) pressure on her,” Eurton said. “It’s not as important (pace-setter pressure) at a mile and an eighth as it is at a mile, but it helps those with come-from-behind horses.”
SUGGESTIVE BOY HAS EXCELLENT MILE WORK
Days before the 2003 Pacific Classic, Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally watched from the balcony of Barn I overlooking the track as Candy Ride went a mile in just over a minute and 36 seconds, in his final major workout before winning the race.
Friday morning, McAnally watched from the same spot as Suggestive Boy went a mile in 1:37.60 under Joe Talamo, who will be up a week from Sunday in the $1 million race.
“It was a different track back then for Candy Ride, much faster,” McAnally said. “But the way he (Suggestive Boy) did it, without really being pressed on at all, everybody was pleased. The owner , his stable manager, everybody.”
McAnally said that from the balcony perch his top assistant, Dan Landers, had clocked Suggestive Boy on the trip around the oval from the seven-furlong pole in just under 1:37.
EIGHTEEN NOMINATED FOR PACIFIC CLASSIC
The names of 18 horses were placed in nomination for the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic on Sunday, August 26, as the deadline to sign up for the signature event of the meeting passed on Thursday.
Several of them were also nominated to one or more of the three other graded stakes on the weekend card of August 25-26 – the Grade II $200,000 Del Mar Handicap on Saturday, August 25 and the Grade II $200,000 Del Mar Mile and Grade II $250,000 Pat O’Brien Stakes. Pacific Classic post positions will be determined at a party Wednesday evening.
In alphabetical order, the 18 nominees are: Acaffella ( owner Jose Luis Guerra, trainer Victor Trujillo); Akkadian (Gary S. Broad, Julio Canani); Amani (Sumaya U.S. Stables, Neil Drysdale); Coil (Pegram/ Watson/ Weitman, Bob Baffert); Dullahan (Donegal Racing, Dale Romans); Game On Dude (Diamond Pride LLC/Lanni Family Trust/Schiappa/Et Al, Bob Baffert); Global Power (Luch Racing Stable, Tom Amoss); Jaycito (Zayat Stables, Bob Baffert); John Scott (Harris Farms Inc., Carla Gaines); Kettle Corn (C R K Stable, John Sadler); Norvsky (Johnston/Johnston/Riggio, Don Warren); Quail Hill (Great Friends Stable/Kenney/O’Neill, Leandro Mora); Rail Trip (Jay Em Ess Stable, Ron Ellis); Richard’s Kid (Zabeel Racing Int. Corp., Bob Baffert); Riveting Reason (M.K. Cho Stables, LLC, Myung Kwon Cho); Suggestive Boy (Pozo de Luna, Inc., Ron McAnally); Where’s Sterling (Frank Calabrese, Luis Ramirez) and Worth Repeating (AJL Productions/Gilman Racing/Goldstone, Michael Machowsky).
SORTING IT OUT – SORT OF
Pacific Classic tidbits from a backstretch tour on Friday morning.
--Trainer Julio Canani said 4-year-old Akkadian, an allowance race winner here on July 21, is “going to run” and will be ridden by Martin Garcia.
--Trainer Neil Drysdale is giving serious consideration, but has not definitely committed, to running 4-year-old Chilean champion filly Amani in the Classic. Garrett Gomez was aboard Amani, a winner of nine of 10 starts in Chile, in a fast-closing third-place finish in the Grade I Clement L. Hirsch on August 4 in her U.S. debut.
--Of trainer Bob Baffert’s four nominees, three – Game On Dude, Richard’s Kid and Jaycito – are solid, with the fourth, Coil, a back-up pending developments leading up to the race. Chantal Sutherland will ride Game On Dude, Rafael Bejarano has the call on Richard’s Kid, a rider has yet to be determined for Jaycito.
--Eliseo Flores, stable manager here for trainer Myung Kwon Cho said that Riveting Reason, fourth in the seventh-race allowance here last Sunday, would be ridden back by David Flores in the Pacific Classic.
GREAT FRIENDS , HIGH ASPIRATIONS
On June 29 at Hollywood Park, trainer Doug O’Neill acquired Quail Hill out of a $25,000 claiming event with Del Mar in mind for his Great Friends Stable clients.
Great Friends, an owning partnership group built around former radio and current UT San Diego TV personalities Scott Kaplan and Billy Ray Smith, has for the past few years put together a stable in the months leading up to the annual meeting here and largely for dispersal thereafter.
Quail Hill, a 4-year-old son of 2003 Pacific Classic champion Candy Ride, has finished seventh and fifth in claiming events on turf at the meeting. And, on Thursday, was nominated to the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic.
“We just thought we’d take a look,” O’Neill said. “It’s such a unique business model, Great Friends. It’s a seven-week (collaboration). They live in this area, their main goal is to take care of horses and, when their horses are doing good, take chances and have fun.
“Quail Hill is doing great and longshots win every day. We have him nominated for the Del Mar Handicap and the Pacific Classic. We heard Acclamation was out, which definitely makes a big void in the Classic, so..
“He’ll more than likely go in the Del Mar Handicap or a claiming race before the end of the meeting, but we’ll keep an eye out and see what happens with the Classic.”
CLOSERS – Ship and Win bonus-eligible horses on today’s card include: Red Jag (3rd, Kristin Mulhall, trainer); Dance Humor (5th, Kristin Mulhall); Cozze Up Lady, Paula Capestro) … Trainer Barry Abrams is hoping an allowance race can be written for Lakerville, twice a winner at the meeting before being second beaten a nose in Wednesday’s Green Flash Handicap, so the swift 4-year-old colt can run here again.