Desert Dawn has pulled off two surprises this spring, winning the Santa Anita Oaks (G1) in April as a 14-1 chance and finishing third in last month’s Kentucky Oaks (G1) at odds of 50-1. However, there will be no such shock if the rapidly improving daughter of Cupid wins the $200,000 Summertime Oaks (G2) at Santa Anita on Sunday.
Trained by Phil D’Amato, Desert Dawn breaks from post 1 in the 1 1/16-mile Summertime Oaks, a race won in recent years by champions Stellar Wind and Songbird, as well as future Grade 1 winner Ollie’s Candy. Desert Dawn’s performance in Kentucky was especially strong, as she finished only 2 1/2 lengths behind the winning Secret Oath and was a mere half-length behind runner-up Nest, who is scheduled to race against the boys in Saturday’s Belmont S. (G1).
Under the Stars disappointed when last seen in the Santa Anita Oaks, racing at or near the back throughout the entire 1 1/16 miles after stumbling at the start. Her previous form, though, is strong enough to win the Summertime Oaks. Under the Starts kicked off 2022 with a victory in the Santa Ynez (G2) and then missed by a half-length in the Santa Ysabel (G3).
Kirstenbosch and Empire Gal finished second and third, respectively, in the May 8 Angel Flight S. over seven furlongs, and both have significant room for improvement. Stepping up from the overnight ranks are Ganadora, a narrow allowance winner two months ago, and recent blowout maiden winners Bicameral and Lady T.