Spring can be an unpredictable time for three-year-old Thoroughbreds; their form can shift rapidly over the course of weeks and months. Such was the case in Sunday’s $200,000 Summertime Oaks (G2) at Santa Anita, in which Under the Stars delivered a mild upset.
The Summertime Oaks was supposed to go the way of Desert Dawn, exiting a third-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks (G1). The last time Desert Dawn and Under the Stars squared off, Desert Dawn won the Santa Anita Oaks (G2) while Under the Stars suffered a severe stumble at the start and finished fourth by 11 1/4 lengths.
But in the Summertime Oaks, the roles were reversed. This time it was Desert Dawn who stumbled badly while favored at 7-10, getting away in last place out of seven as Under the Stars broke cleanly and tracked early splits of :22.94 and :47.28 set by Ganadora.
Desert Dawn made a midrace move to draw within a couple lengths of Under the Stars through six furlongs in 1:11.66, but thereafter she tired from her exertions, leaving Under the Stars and the steadily advancing Lady T to duke it out. Lady T put up a good fight while rallying from a couple lengths off the early tempo, but Under the Stars turned her away to win the 1 1/16-mile heat by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:43.51.
“Fortunately, she got away cleanly today. She stumbled badly in the (Santa Anita) Oaks and it pretty much took her out of contention, which happened to the favorite today,” said winning trainer Sean McCarthy. “…She’s put a little weight on since the Santa Anita Oaks, had some time leading into this race, so that helped her obviously. She came in fresh and she showed it today.”
Desert Dawn settled nine lengths behind Lady T in third place, while Ganadora and Kirstenbosch finished in a dead heat for fourth place. Empire Gal and Bicameral trailed the strung-out field.
Owned by the partnership of Mrs. John Magnier, Michael B. Tabor, and Derrick Smith, Under the Stars was bred by Eaton and ridden to victory by Juan Hernandez. The daughter of Pioneerof the Nile was produced by the Storm Cat mare Untouched Talent and currently boasts a 7-3-1-2 lifetime resume, good for earnings of $334,520.
Future plans for Under the Stars are still to be determined, but there are plenty of major stakes for sophomore fillies on the summer schedule. Considering she’s won graded stakes both sprinting and running long, targets as wide-ranging as the 1 1/8-mile Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) and the seven-furlong Test S. (G1)—both at Saratoga—could be viable options for Under the Stars.