Actress needed virtually every yard of the May 19 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) to erase a 19-length deficit and turn the historic nine-furlong feature into a surprising maiden-breaking triumph. On Saturday, she’ll have slightly less ground to work with while facing five other three-year-old fillies in the $300,000 Delaware Oaks (G3) over 1 1/16 miles.
A daughter of Tapit and the Milwaukee Brew mare Milwaukee Appeal, Actress seems genetically primed to excel as the distances increase, with the 1 1/4-mile Alabama (G1) at Saratoga a potential summertime target. The Delaware Oaks, therefore, could serve as her lead-in following the initial winner’s circle visit at Pimlico. It proved to be a savvy placement by trainer Jason Servis, who stretched the filly out following seconds against maiden foes and in a restricted stakes, both around one turn at Gulfstream.
Vying for favoritism is It Tiz Well, who is seeking to give trainer Jerry Hollendorfer a second win in the race following champion Blind Luck’s win in 2010. In between a second to Unique Bella in the Santa Ynez (G2) and a more distant third to Paradise Woods in the Santa Anita Oaks (G1), It Tiz Well beat allowance foes and then shipped to Oaklawn and walked away a one-length winner of the Honeybee (G3). Last time, she was elevated from fifth to fourth in the Summertime Oaks (G2) after meeting interference.
“We did not have much luck in her last race, but she only got beat 2 1/2 lengths,” Jerry Hollendorfer said from his barn in southern California. “She has gone on the road and won a stake in Arkansas, we really did not have a dirt race for her here, so we are going to bring her to Delaware. We have had success in the past at Delaware and the purse is nice.”
Also looking to notch a second Delaware Oaks is trainer Larry Jones, who saddles Brereton Jones’ Proud and Fearless. The pair teamed up to win the Oaks in 2008 with champion Proud Spell, and this filly enters on a three-race win streak, including a nine-length allowance romp against older fillies and mares.
Like It Tiz Well, Berned has faces some of the better fillies in the division. Second to Miss Sky Warrior in the Tempted (G3) last fall but up the track behind Abel Tasman in the Starlet (G1), the daughter of Bernardini returned from a five-month spell on May 20 and passed her first allowance condition by more than two lengths at Monmouth Park.
“Since that race, I have had this race in mind for her,” said trainer Graham Motion, who took over training duties for the filly from Tom Albertrani after last season. “This race just seems like a great fit her. It is local and it will give her plenty of time after her first start of the season.”
The supporting feature is the $200,000 Robert G. Dick Memorial for fillies and mares at 1 3/8 miles on the turf. Grade 3 winner Zipessa, stakes winner Paige, and the Motion-trained pair of Happyness and Guilty Twelve figure to be the leading contenders.