DEL MAR, Calif.— The bay filly Spendarella will be racing on her fourth different turf track Saturday in only her fifth start, but the way she’s handled the traveling and racing so far in her brief career there’s little doubt she’s the one to beat in a 14-horse lineup of sophomore fillies in the 66th edition of the Grade I Del Mar Oaks.
The mile and one-eighth headliner will come out of the diagonal chute on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course and there figures to be more than a bit of early jockeying among the cast of riders in the $300,000 crucible.
Spendarella, a New York-bred by the Japanese-bred sire Karakontie, has stakes wins at Gulfstream Park and Keeneland already on her ledger and she’s coming into Saturday’s race off a second-place finish to top European filly Inspiral in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 17. She trained by one of America’s foremost conditioners, H. Graham Motion, and will be handled by top eastern rider Tyler Gaffalione for her owner and breeder, Gainesway Thoroughbreds. She has speed, which will be to her advantage in the big gathering, but she’ll also need a bit of luck among all the horseflesh in order to pull off her western invasion.
Del Mar morning linemaker Jon White likes her chances: he’s hung her as the 8/5 favorite in the full house.
A trio of other fillies appear best suited to test Spendarella. They are Schroder Farms or David Bernsen’s Cairo Memories, winner of a pair of Graded grass stakes at the recent Santa Anita meet; Benowitz Family Trust and CYBT or Nentwig’s Bellabel, winner of the key prep for the Oaks, the Grade II San Clemente Stakes, here on July 23, and Yusheng Zhang’s French-bred filly Txope, who comes into the race off at tally on June 12 in the Group II German One Thousand Guineas in Dusseldorf, Germany.
Here’s the full field for the 3-year-old championship race from the rail out with riders and morning line odds:
Rockingham Ranch or Talla Racing’s Rhea Moon (Ramon Vazquez up, 30-1); Bellabel (Umberto Rispoli, 5-1); R. Unicorn Stable’s Island of Love (Juan Hernandez, 12-1); Panic Stable’s Lucky Girl (Ryan Curatolo, 30-1); Cairo Memories (Mike Smith, 3-1); Slam Dunk Racing or Newman’s Tezzaray (Hector Berrios, 20-1); Michael House’s Sixteen Arches (Abel Cedillo, 12-1); Gravenslund or K. Gravenslund’s Gracelund Gray (Joe Bravo, 15-1); Txope (Florent Geroux, 5-1); Moon S. Han’s Gold Dragon Queen (Armando Ayuso, 50-1); Spendarella; Magnier, Tabor or Smith, et al’s Ballet Dancing (Drayden Van Dyke, 20-1); Tina and Jerome Moss’ Lady T (Victor Espinoza, 20-1), and Detampel or Galvin’s Lady Clementine (Mario Gutierrez, 30-1).
Trainer Motion won this Del Mar Oaks with his filly Summer Soiree in 2011. He is one of six out-of-town trainers to ship in and plunder the gold in the nine-furlong Oaks in the last 11 years.
The Oaks will be Race 8 on 10-race program with an approximate post time of 5:34 p.m. First post for the Saturday card is the usual 2 p.m.
DMTC Press Release
Photo: Spendarella wins the G2 Appalachian at Keeneland (Keeneland Photo)