Chad Brown has sent top contenders New Money Honey and Rymska west for the final Grade 1 event of 2017, Saturday’s $300,000 American Oaks at Santa Anita. The duo heads a field of 10 sophomore fillies in the 1 ¼-mile turf affair.
New Money Honey’s 3-year-old season started to gather steam this spring/summer with back-to-back victories in the Wonder Again (G3) and Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1), but the Medaglia d’Oro filly faltered when trying dirt in the Alabama (G1) and failed to fire when returning to turf last out, checking in sixth as the favorite in the October 14 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) at Keeneland.
Don’t be surprised to see New Money Honey rebound with an improved showing. She captured the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) at Santa Anita and regular rider Javier Castellano, who won a race aboard a 27-1 shot on Tuesday’s opener, will be aboard. The bay filly figures to be up close from the start stalking the pace.
Rymska is seeking her first major win in good form and will be rolling late with Irad Ortiz Jr. A French stakes winner, the daughter of Le Havre dropped her first two starts stateside at age 2 but is unbeaten from three attempts this year, most recently capturing the November 23 Winter Memories at Aqueduct. Her sophomore season was interrupted by a long hiatus following a tally in the Sweetest Chant (G3) at Gulfstream in February and Rymska returned to capture the Commonwealth Oaks (G3) at Laurel Park in late September. She’s been favored in the last three outings.
Madam Dancealot heads the local contingent. Winner of the San Clementine (G2) early in the Del Mar summer session, the Irish-bred Sir Prancealot filly followed with a neck third in the Del Mar Oaks (G1) and rallied to finish the same position in the Queen Elizabeth. Corey Nakatani reclaims the mount for Richard Baltas.
Beau Recall is also exiting the Queen Elizabeth, finishing fifth, and the late-running daughter of Sir Prancealot has placed in four stakes this year including a second in the Del Mar Oaks. Joe Talamo guides the Simon Callaghan pupil.
Daddy’s Lil Darling missed by only a half-length when second in the Queen Elizabeth but unlike her three rivals, she has a start in the 77-day interim. The Kenny McPeek-trained filly came flying late but had to settle for a close third in the November 24 Mrs. Revere (G2) at Churchill Downs over yielding ground. The daughter of Harlan’s Holiday is eligible to appreciate a return to firm conditions Saturday, performing at a high level in her three previous starts, and will look to make her presence felt in the stretch with Robby Albarado.
Desert Duchess invades from Florida off a win in the November 4 Cellars Shiraz at Gulfstream Park West and looks like the probable pacesetter under Drayden Van Dyke. The Hard Spun filly has won three straight for Mike Maker. Kathy’s Song shipped north to capture the December 10 Miss America at Golden Gate Fields for Baltas and Brice Blanc returns to the saddle.
Completing the field are Miss America runner-up Coachwhip; Grade 3-placed Bernina Star; and maiden winner Pantsonfire.