PRESTIGIOUS OAKS SERVES AS NATION’S FINAL GRADE I EVENT OF 2017
ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 27, 2017)–Normandy Farm’s homebred Daddys Lil Darling heads a deep and competitive field of 10 sophomore fillies in Saturday’s Grade I, $300,000 American Oaks at Santa Anita. Slotted as the nation’s final Grade I stakes of the year, the American Oaks will be contested at a mile and a quarter on turf.
Sharing top billing with Daddys Lil Darling, who will be shipping west from her Kentucky base, are New York shipper New Money Honey, local distaffer Madam Dancealot and Desert Duchess, a reformed claimer who comes off the best race of her career in a minor stakes at Gulfstream Park West.
Daddys Lil Darling
Owner: Normandy Farm Trainer: Ken McPeek
Most recently a close third in the Grade II Mrs. Revere Stakes over a yielding turf at 1 1/16 miles on Nov. 24 at Churchill Downs, this Kentucky-bred daughter of Scat Daddy has been second in no less than four Grade I stakes, including the Grade I Queen Elizabeth II two starts back at Keeneland on Oct. 14. Bred by her owner, she romped to a 4 ½ length win in an ungraded stakes going 1 5/16 miles on turf three starts back at Kentucky Downs Sept. 10–which would certainly indicate she can handle a mile and a quarter. A respectable fourth in her only try at a mile and quarter, five starts back in the Grade I Belmont Oaks Invitational on July 8, she rates top billing with “Big Money” Mike Smith aboard for the first time on Saturday.
New Money Honey
Owner: E Five Racing Thoroughbreds Trainer: Chad Brown
In what was her lone Santa Anita appearance, this Medaglia d’Oro filly annexed her first Grade I win, the one mile Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf on Nov. 4, 2016. Based in New York with Chad Brown, she was all heart in taking the Grade I Belmont Oaks Invitational at a mile and quarter on turf three starts back on July 8. Although she retains the services of four-time Eclipse Champ Javier Castellano, New Money Honey comes off a pair of subpar efforts, a well beaten fifth at 4-1 in Saratoga’s Grade I Alabama on Aug. 19 and most recently, a dull sixth place run as the 5-2 favorite in the Grade I Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Keeneland Oct. 14. With a string of what appears to be pedestrian half mile drills at Belmont Park since her last start, Brown will hope to have her fresh and ready to close out the year.
Owner: Slam Dunk Racing Trainer: Richard Baltas
Irish-bred and raced into September of her 2-year-old campaign in England, she’s been a gem of consistency in her last five starts for Richard Baltas. A Group III winner at 2 in England, she took the Grade II San Clemente Handicap three starts back at one mile on turf July 23 and was subsequently third, beaten a diminishing neck as the 7-2 favorite in the Grade I, 1 1/8 miles turf Del Mar Oaks on Aug. 19. In what may have been her finest hour, she came rolling from off the pace to finish third, beaten four lengths in the Grade I Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Oct. 14–finishing 3 ½ lengths behind Daddys Lil Darling. With regular pilot Jamie Theriot relocated to New Orleans, she’ll be reunited with Corey Nakatani, who rode her to a win and a second place finish this past spring at Santa Anita.
Owner: Jordan V. Wycoff Trainer: Michael Maker
Claimed seven starts back for $35,000 at Belmont Park on May 21, this Kentucky-bred daughter of Hard Spun has caught fire for Mike Maker, winning her last three starts, with her most recent a minor stakes score going a mile on turf at Gulfstream Park West on Nov. 4. Regarded as a stalker at middle distances, she could well go to the front in what will be her first assignment beyond a mile and sixteenth. Currently based at Turfway Park in northern Kentucky, Desert Duchess will be ridden for the first time by Drayden Van Dyke in what will be her initial graded stakes engagement.
THE GRADE I AMERICAN OAKS WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER
Race 7 of 9 Approximate post time 3:30 p.m. PT
1. Madam Dancealot–Corey Nakatani–122
2. Kathy’s Song–Brice Blanc–120
3. Bernina Star–Kent Desormeaux–120
4. Daddys Lil Darling–Mike Smith–120
5. Pantsonfire–Rajiv Maragh–120
6. Beau Recall–Joe Talamo–120
7. Desert Duchess–Drayden Van Dyke–120
8. Rymska–Irad Ortiz, Jr.–122
9. New Money Honey–Javier Castellano–124
10. Coachwhip–Flavien Prat–120
First post time for a nine-race card, that will also include the Grade III Robert J. Frankel Stakes and the Grade III Midnight Lute Stakes, is at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates will open at 10:30 a.m. For additional information, please visit santaanita.com.