FIRST RUN IN 2002, PRESTIGIOUS OAKS TO BE STAGED FOR THE FIRST TIME AT SANTA ANITA
ARCADIA, Calif. (May 28, 2014)–Grade I winner Room Service heads a quality field of eight 3-year-old fillies set to contest 1 ¼ miles on turf in the Grade I, $350,000 American Oaks, which will be run for the first time at Santa Anita on Saturday.
A mainstay at the now-shuttered Hollywood Park dating back to 2002, the Oaks is unique in that it requires the majority of those running to do something they’ve never done–compete at 1 ¼ miles–over any surface.
Trained by Midwest-based Wayne Catalano, Room Service comes off a rousing seven length dead heat win in the Grade I Ashland Stakes, which was contested at 1 1/16 miles over polytrack on April 5. A two length winner of the Grade III, 1 1/8 miles turf Here Comes the Bride Stakes at Gulfstream Park on March 2, the Gary and Mary West homebred daughter of More Than Ready is in search of her third consecutive win and her fourth overall from what will be her seventh start.
A dedicated deep closer, Room Service was 12 lengths off the pace after the first half mile in the Ashland and her style of running would suggest she’ll appreciate the added distance. Ridden to victory by Shaun Bridgmohan in the Ashland, she’ll be handled again by the Louisiana native in the Oaks.
With $336,565 in earnings, Room Service is easily the leading money-winner in the field. Along with her three wins, she has one second and two thirds from six starts.
Like Room Service, Nashoba’s Gold is also in search of her third consecutive win. Owned by her breeder, Warren B. Williamson, Nashoba’s Gold comes off two graded stakes wins at 1 1/8 miles on grass, the Grade III Providencia on April 5 and the Grade II Honeymoon on May 4.
Trained by Carla Gaines, Nashoba’s Gold is just a half length away from being undefeated in four starts, all of them on turf. A first-out maiden special weight winner at 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 8, she was second, beaten a half length going one mile in her second start by Diversy Harbor, who she defeated in both the Provdencia and Honeymoon, and will face again on Saturday.
A daughter of Smart Strike out of the outstanding producer Nashoba, by Caerleon, Nashoba’s Gold has a stalking style and will again be handled by regular rider Joe Talamo. She has amassed $259,380 in earnings from her four starts.
A first-out maiden winner going 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course, Glen Hill Farm’s Diversy Harbor came rolling to defeat Nashoba’s Gold in the one mile turf China Doll Stakes next out on March 8.
Ridden from off the pace in her first three starts by Gary Stevens, the Tom Proctor-trained Diversy Harbor was up-close and rank with apprentice Drayden Van Dyke when running third, beaten a length, in the Honeymoon Stakes on May 4. A Kentucky-bred filly by Curlin, she’ll be ridden for the first time by Mike Smith on Saturday and will likely be taken off the early pace.
Second, beaten a length by Nashoba’s Gold in the Honeymoon on May 4, Pam and Martin Wygod’s homebred Sweet Bliss was a close third two starts back in a 1 1/8 miles turf allowance. Ridden to a maiden win three starts back going 1 1/16 miles on dirt Jan. 30 by Corey Nakatani, the John Shirreffs-trained filly by Street Cry figures to get a stalking trip with “C-Nak” back aboard in the Oaks.
Along with trainer Chad Brown’s Little Journey, Tiz the Key is one of only two Oaks runners who have competed at 1 ¼ miles, with Tiz the Key a victorious at the distance in a first condition allowance over Santa Anita’s turf course on May 18.
Owned by B. Wayne Hughes’ Spendthrift Farm, LLC, and trained by Richard Mandella, Tiz the Key was a close second early and showed a lot of gameness late, winning by three quarters of a length as the 6-5 favorite under Gary Stevens, who will be out of town on Saturday to ride at Penn National. Tiz the Key will thus be ridden for the first time by Tyler Baze.
A rousing 4 ½ length maiden winner going one mile on dirt two starts back, the daughter of Tiznow will try stakes company for the first time but is on the improve and could pose a stout threat in the Oaks. Her overall mark stands at 5-2-0-1.
French-bred Little Journey, who ran a close third in her U.S. debut, the 1 1/16 miles turf Edgewood Stakes on May 2 at Churchill Downs, had the lead late, but finished third, beaten a head, going 1 ¼ miles on turf two starts back on Nov. 10 in France.
Bet to 4-1 in the nine-horse Edgewood, the Chad Brown trained Little Journey should benefit from the race at Churchill and she has a solid overall mark of 8-2-2-4. Owned by Mike Pietrangelo, Marshall K. Graham, Steve Laymon, Clay Sanders and partners, Little Journey will ship in from Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and be ridden for the first time by “Jersey Joe” Bravo.
The complete field for the American Oaks, to be run as the eighth race on a nine-race card Saturday, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Loan Savant, Mario Gutierrez, 118; Nashoba’s Gold, Joe Talamo, 120; Little Journey, Joe Bravo, 118; Sweet Bliss, Corey Nakatani, 118; Kissin Lucky Lips, Brice Blanc, 118; Tiz the Key, Tyler Baze, 118; Diversy Harbor, Mike Smith, 118, and Room Service Shaun Bridgmohan, 123.
First post time at Santa Anita on Saturday is at 1 p.m. Admission gates open at 11 a.m.