Unbeaten through seven starts, Sircat Sally aims to retain that perfect mark in Sunday’s $200,000 San Clemente H. (G2) at Del Mar. The one-mile stepping stone to the August 19 Del Mar Oaks (G1) has attracted a couple of shippers from further afield in Lull and Enthrall, and the new competition, plus top weight of 125 pounds, arguably make this Sircat Sally’s stiffest test so far.
Trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, the California-bred began her career by bossing state-restricted company on dirt. But after extending her skein to three in the California Cup Oaks in her turf debut, Sircat Sally has continued her winning habit versus open company. The daughter of Surf Cat can wire them if need be, as in the Providencia (G3) and Senorita (G3), or stalk in second before pouncing, a la the China Doll and most recently the Honeymoon (G2). That last was her closest margin, a determined neck from frequent foe Beau Recall, who didn’t advertise the form when subsequently sixth in the Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1).
With regular rider Mike Smith away at Saratoga for Abel Tasman, Sircat Sally will renew her acquaintance with Drayden Van Dyke, who piloted her to her gaudiest win, a 12-length conquest of last December’s Soviet Problem at Los Alamitos.
Belmont Park-based Lull turned in perhaps her best performance in her only previous West Coast swing, a fourth after setting a torrid pace in last November’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1). The Christophe Clement has turned in better stakes results on paper, winning the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Fillies, placing second in the Jessamine (G3), and just missing in the Soaring Softly in her latest. But from a form and pace dynamic perspective, her Breeders’ Cup derring-do implies she may be the type who thrives in Southern California. The well-bred War Front filly also gets a five-pound weight concession from Sircat Sally.
Enthrall, a Kentucky-bred by Bernardini, is repatriated after three outings in France. Cast off from Godolphin for a mere 7,000 guineas at Tattersalls earlier this year, she promptly made good for her new connections. A debut winner on the all-weather in the provinces, the H-F Devin trainee didn’t factor in the Prix Finlande but rebounded to upset a Chantilly conditions race. While that wasn’t the deepest group, the fourth-place favorite, Godolphin’s Franz Schubert, was exiting a close second in the Prix Matchem. The Matchem winner, Uni, just finished a sneaky-good third in her U.S. debut in the Belmont Oaks. Now Enthrall makes her American premiere for Brendan Walsh, and picks up Rafael Bejarano.
Noted and Quoted is a well-known resident of this circuit, but a newcomer to the turf ranks, and the move may be an inspired one on the part of Bob Baffert. Since capturing the Chandelier (G1) last fall, the gray has been disappointing on the dirt. Her pedigree offers hope that a surface switch could do the trick. By The Factor (a son of turf-oriented War Front), Noted and Quoted counts the versatile City Zip as her broodmare sire.
The Richard Mandella-trained Blame It on Alphie aims to become the fourth stakes winner for her dam, following Alphie’s Bet, Unusual Heatwave, and stablemate Twentytwentyvision. The Blame filly won at first asking over this course and distance last summer, checked in fourth in the Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf, and headed for the sidelines. The May 21 foal likely benefited from the time to grow up, and in her second start off the bench, she led throughout in an entry-level allowance.
Kenda also promises to flash speed after spending her springtime on Santa Anita’s downhill turf, culminating in a front-running victory in the Special Goddess S. over Madam Dancealot and Storm the Hill. Being by Bodemeister, Kenda should be able to stretch out to a mile for trainer Phil D’Amato. Madam Dancealot, a Group 3 winner at Salisbury in September, was 10th behind Sircat Sally in the China Doll, and fellow import Spy Ring, most recently fourth in the Senorita, must also find a way to turn the tables on the favorite.
The supporting feature, the $75,000 Wickerr likewise going a mile on turf, marks the belated reappearance of Vyjack. Tepin’s older half-brother, who captured Santa Anita’s City of Hope (G2) Mile in course-record time last fall, has not raced since missing by a head in the Seabiscuit (G2) here during the Bing Crosby meet. His chief opponent is Calculator, twice a winner sprinting down the hill this season but apparently still trying to find his ideal trip. Hollendorfer’s Street Lad, who almost wired the All American (G3) at Golden Gate before being swamped into fourth at the wire, is entitled to enjoy the switch to turf on pedigree. Dalmore is cross-entered versus Arrogate in Saturday’s San Diego (G2).
Sunday’s program is bookended by two maiden races of interest.
In the 1ST, a six-furlong event for two-year-old fillies, all eight entrants are nominated to the Del Mar Debutante (G1), including Fox Hill Farms’ firster Ladybug; Krissys Manicure, third to Surrender Now and Tyfosha in her unveiling; and Yesterday’s News, who adds blinkers second time out for Simon Callaghan.
The 9TH and nightcap has drawn two of the most recognizable maidens around – Cozmic One, Zenyatta’s first foal by Bernardini, and Kentucky Derby (G1) also-ran Sonneteer – both trying turf for the first time in hopes of catching a spark. Cozmic One, who returns from a two-year layoff for John Shirreffs, showed little in his two dirt starts.