The 5-year-old daughter of Lear Fan won the Palomar Handicap at Del Mar three starts back while traveling the Dahlia distance of 1 1/16 miles on turf and was second two starts back in the Yellow Ribbon Stakes.
She will spot her 11 rivals from four to 12 pounds in the Grade II event, which lines up as follows from the rail out:
Vacare, with Jose Valdivia Jr. up, 122 pounds; Green Lyons, Joel Rosario, 115; I Can See, Aaron Gryder, 115; Belle Allure, Corey Nakatani, 114; Place de L’Etoile, Joseph Talamo, 111; Gotta Have Her, Richard Migliore, 115; Sensational Love, Michael Baze, 112; Valbenny, Alex Solis, 117; Lady Digby, Garrett Gomez, 118; Don’t Forget Faith, Alonso Quinonez, 110; In My Glory, Martin Garcia, 113, and Storybook, Mike Smith, 114.
Valbenny, a 4-year-old Irish-bred filly, will be making for her third start for Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel since being transferred by Roy and Gretchen Jackson’s Lael Stables. Frankel has saddled a record seven Dahlia winners, including Citronnade in 2007.
The stretch-running daughter of Val Royal was a fast-closing fourth in the Las Palmas Handicap in October. She began her career as a 2-year-old in England for Alan Swinbank before being sold to California interests and transferred to the Paddy Gallagher stable.
She won four of eight starts for Gallagher and was three-for-four on the Lakeside Turf Course, with graded wins in the Miesque, Senorita and Honeymoon Handicap. She was second in the Grade I American Oaks in 2007.
Lady Digby, sixth in the Cardinal Handicap on a yielding course at Churchill Downs in her last start, won the Grade III All Along Breeders’ Cup in June at Colonial Downs for trainer Graham Motion.
Irish-bred Belle Allure is the top weighted of a trio of European 3-year-old fillies debuting here in the Dahlia. The Rupert Pritchard-Gorden trainee has won two of eight starts including a Group 3 stake at Longchamp. Place de l’Etoile has won two of eight, while Don’t Forget Faith has one win in 11 starts.
Green Lyons, winner of an allowance race at one mile on turf here in November, finished third in the Beverly Hills Handicap here in June for Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale and is four-for-20 overall.
I Can See, second in the Grade I John Mabee Handicap at Del Mar in August, enters following a sixth-place finish in The Matriarch. A winner of four of 45 starts, she has gone 14 starts without a victory, dating to an allowance win at Del Mar in July of 2007.
Gotta Have Her, who started the year with an allowance win here on turf in June, finished in a dead heat for second, a half-length back of Vacare in the Palomar. Most recently the 4-year-old daughter of Royal Academy tired and faded after leading in the stretch of the Los Palmas Handicap.
Trainer Efrain Miranda shipped In My Glory south following an allowance score at Golden Gate Fields. The 4-year-old was third in an allowance race here two starts back and was the runner-up in the Miss America at Golden Gate in September.
Storybook, a winner on the Keeneland turf and of her first two starts on synthetic courses in Europe in 2007, makes her third start of the year. She was fourth in the Swingtime at Santa Anita and she finished second most recently in the Hollywood Park allowance race won by Green Lyons.
Sensational Love, also trained by Drysdale, has won two of 11 starts. She finished fifth in the Audrey Skirball-Kenis Stakes while making her last start on Nov. 15.
The 26th running of the Dahlia Handicap will go as the eighth race on Sunday’s nine-race program at Hollywood Park. First post time is at 12:30 p.m.