Two Kentucky Oaks (G1) points races are on tap Saturday, and there’s one other stakes contest at Golden Gate Fields that could produce a couple of runners on the first Saturday in May.
First up, though, are the $300,000 Las Virgenes S. (G2) at Santa Anita Park and $100,000 Martha Washington S. at Oaklawn Park. Both races are part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series of points races and offer up 10-4-2-1 points to the respective top four in each contest.
The Las Virgenes features the return of undefeated Songbird, who capped off her two-year-old season with a 5 3/4-length romp in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and an Eclipse Award as the champion two-year-old filly of 2015.
Songbird shipped into Keeneland for the Breeders’ Cup and just as quickly shipped back out to her homebase at Santa Anita. The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee has been working up a storm at that Arcadia, California, venue, most recently recording a seven-furlong move in 1:26.60 ahead of her 2016 bow.
Mike Smith has been aboard for all four of Songbird’s starts to date and has the call once again.
Six fillies will attempt to derail the champ’s return to competition, including Street Fancy.
That Philip D’Amato pupil broke her maiden at Santa Anita, ran a half-length third in the Desi Arnaz S. at Del Mar and closed out 2015 with a nice rally to take the Starlet S. (G1) at Los Alamitos by a length on December 12. Street Fancy had Smith in the irons for all three of those starts and will get the services of Triple Crown-winning jockey Victor Espinoza on Saturday.
Land Over Sea, placed behind Songbird in the Del Mar Debutante (G1) and Chandelier S. (G1) last season, appears to be best of the rest. Rounding out the Las Virgenes field are Grade 3-placed Decked Out; Chandelier fifth-placer Jade Princess; maiden winner Merirosvo; and maiden She’s a Warrior.
The Martha Washington drew a relatively tough group of eight runners, but the standout appears to be Nickname.
The Scat Daddy filly is already a Grade 1 winner thanks to a 3 1/2-length score in last October’s Frizette S. (G1) at Belmont Park. Nickname joined the Oaks leaderboard because of that win and improved her current position to fourth due to a fourth-place run in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) to conclude her two-year-old season for trainer Steve Asmussen.
Lining up against Nickname will be some Oaklawn winners and an unbeaten filly named My Master Plan.
That latter miss will be making her first start outside of Remington Park on Saturday in the Martha Washington, but is no stranger to a stakes winner’s circle. The Donnie Von Hemel pupil captured the E. L. Gaylord Memorial and Trapeze S. at Remington, and will be looking to move her mark to a perfect five-for-five in this spot.
Marquee Miss has already made her sophomore bow, taking the Dixie Belle S. going six furlongs at Oaklawn on January 15. The re-opposing Durango was 2 1/2 lengths back in second and will attempt to turn the tables on Marquee Miss this time around.
Ready to Confess also won on January 15 at Oaklawn, taking an allowance/optional claimer earlier on the card for Von Hemel. Dorodansa finished second in that contest and also boasts a head second in the Trapeze as she lines back up in the Martha Washington.
The field is completed by Lovable Lyss, fourth in the Silverbulletday last out, and maiden winner Red Fern Doll.
A little over an hour after the Martha Washington, nine sophomore fillies will take to the track in a non-points race that could end up producing some Kentucky Oaks runners.
The $50,000 California Oaks is scheduled for 1 1/16 miles at Golden Gate Fields and includes some fillies who have already contested points races.
Code Warrior is the most prominent of those runners after finishing a half-length second in the Santa Ynez S. (G2) at Santa Anita in her January 2 sophomore debut. The dark bay lass suffered her first loss that day after breaking her maiden by seven lengths, taking the Golden Nugget S. by 2 1/2 lengths and adding the Golden Gate Debutante S. to her resume by 1 3/4 lengths, all at Golden Gate Fields.
My Dynamo rallied for third in the Golden Gate Debutante and also returned last out in the Santa Ynez. The Jeff Bonde pupil ran fifth that day and will attempt to move up a few spots while stretching out past seven furlongs for the first time.
Right There didn’t contest the Santa Ynez, instead opting for an allowance/optional claimer at Santa Anita, where she ran third, for her sophomore debut. Prior to that, though, the Keith Desormeaux trainee won the Landaluce S., finished fourth in both the Sorrento S. (G2) and Del Mar Debutante (G1), filled the third spot in the Chandelier S. (G1), and closed out her two-year-old campaign with a ninth-place run in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). She’ll return to stakes company in this much easier spot.
Songbird photo courtesy of Keeneland/Coady Photography
Nickname photo courtesy of NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography
Code Warrior photo courtesy of Shane Micheli/Vassar Photography