June 2, 2023

Colonia takes on west’s best in Del Mar Oaks

Colonia won at first asking in the U.S. at Arlington in the Hatoof Stakes (Coady Photography)

The $300,000 Del Mar Oaks (G1) has been taken by Eastern-based fillies in five of the past seven years, but the strength in numbers lie with the local contingent in Saturday’s renewal of the nine-furlong grass test with only Colonia making the trip west for Graham Motion, who won the Oaks in 2011 with Summer Soiree.

Unplaced in her first two turf attempts on heavy ground in France, Colonia found the firmer U.S. ground to her liking on July 7, when she rallied to take the $100,000 Hatoof at Arlington by 1 3/4 lengths.

Bypassing on a return trip to that track for last week’s Pucker Up (G3), Colonia instead seeks to enhance her residual value considerably here under Joel Rosario.

Fatale Bere and Paved were the leading local fillies in the division earlier this year. Fatale Bere beat Paved in the Providencia (G3) in April, with Paved returning the favor two months later in the Honeymoon (G2). Both shipped to New York for last month’s Belmont Oaks (G1), but neither were serious factors. Fatale Bere ran an even sixth throughout, while Paved passed a couple stragglers late in finishing eighth.

“She ran a good race in New York and has been here at Del Mar since the end of July,” trainer Leonard Powell said of Fatale Bere. “The key will be to have her covered up in the first part and then to finish strong.”

Finishing strong will require a quick pace, which Ms Bad Behavior is capable of providing. The stakes-winning daughter of Blame didn’t quite see out this trip in finishing second in the Providencia, and weakened late to third in the San Clemente (G2) earlier in the meet.

Honeymoon runner-up Animosity has shown early foot in the past, but was slow from the gate in the San Clemente and could only manage a mild bid to finish sixth. Summertime Oaks (G2) winner Ollie’s Candy had to change from her normal front-running strategy in the San Clemente when saddled with post 13 but nearly won anyway, missing by a head to War Heroine.

Multiple stakes-placed So Hi Society, a former Eastern mainstay for Chad Brown, has been stabled at Del Mar with Jeff Mullins for more than a month. Californiagoldrush, who won her first two starts last winter at Santa Anita, returns from a 6 1/2-month layoff for Neil Drysdale. This marks the daughter of Cape Blanco’s stakes debut.