With no racing back home, Southern California invaders will continue to eye major prizes during Oaklawn Park’s Racing Festival of the South this Saturday, Apr. 25, in the $150,000 Carousel S. for fillies and mares and the $100,000 Bachelor S. for 3-year-olds, both 6-furlong sprints.
Multiple Grade 1 winner Bellafina, who shortened up late last year and placed narrowly behind Covfefe in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1), has been on the grounds at Oaklawn since last week and is expected to make her season debut in the Carousel. The daughter of Quality Road was last seen finishing second to Hard Not to Love in the Dec. 28 La Brea (G1) at Santa Anita.
Mia Mischief, runner-up in the Carousel last season before taking the Humana Distaff (G1) and beating Covfefe in the Roxelana S., is another likely Carousel starter. The Steve Asmussen trainee will enter off a 2 1/4-length allowance win over the Oaklawn strip on Mar. 20.
Midnight Fantasy and Amy’s Challenge, separated by a neck when one-two in the Feb. 29 Spring Fever S. at Oaklawn, both figure to be in the lineup. Another notable nominee is Bell’s the One, who captured the Raven Run (G2) at Keeneland last fall.
The Bachelor will mark the season debut of the Bob Baffert-trained Eight Rings. The son of Empire Maker impressively won the American Pharoah (G1) at Santa Anita by six lengths last fall before disappointing at short odds in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).
Another notable California-based nominee is the Doug O’Neill-trained Fore Left. Although up the track versus Eight Rings in the American Pharoah, the son of Twirling Candy most recently rolled to a 1 3/4-length decision in the UAE 2000 Guineas (G3) at Meydan in early February.
Also among the nominees are Long Weekend and Little Menace, the top two finishers in last month’s Gazebo S. over the track and distance, and Echo Town, who could step up to stakes company for Asmussen following a 3 3/4-length allowance tally in the slop on Mar. 13.