February 27, 2024

Dua takes next step in Sorrento; fresh faces enhance Yellow Ribbon

The 2022 Sorrento went to Vegas Magic (Photo © Benoit Photo)

The late Arrogate has sired major winners in his first two crops, led by Secret Oath and Arcangelo, and the newly-minted Hall of Famer could bequeath more in his final crop. Dua will try to develop along those lines, taking her next step in Saturday’s $200,000 Sorrento (G3) at Del Mar.

The six-furlong affair serves as an audition for the meet’s signature race for two-year-old fillies, the Del Mar Debutante (G1), which was won last year by the Arrogate filly And Tell Me Nolies.

Sorrento (G3) – Race 6 (7:45 p.m. ET)

Trained like her sire by Bob Baffert, Dua was a gutsy debut winner sprinting five furlongs at the seaside track July 22. The 7-10 favorite had to be nudged along by Juan Hernandez to chase the pace, and at the top of the stretch, she appeared momentarily beaten for speed. But Dua showed a resilient attitude to find more, looking better the farther they went, and she edged a half-length clear.

The Sorrento’s extra furlong should help Dua. The Zedan Racing Stables runner, who was purchased for $400,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling, will break from post 3 with a returning Hernandez.

A fast pace is likely on tap, thanks to a couple of sharp first-out winners. Kaleem Shah’s $750,000 OBS March acquisition, Benedetta, wired her five-furlong debut at Los Alamitos for Simon Callaghan, while O.J. Jauregui’s Dreamfyre ran the boys off their feet first time out in the Everett Nevin S. at Pleasanton.

Benedetta, a City of Light filly, is tactically drawn in the outside post 8 with new pilot Victor Espinoza. Dreamfyre, a daughter of Flameaway who’s off to a fast start as a sire, picks up Hector Berrios in post 2. A possible clue to Dreamfyre’s chances could come in Friday’s Graduation S., with three of her Pleasanton victims hoping to outperform their odds at Del Mar.

Two who just missed in Dua’s maiden – fellow debutantes Ur in Trouble and Feisty Mitole – take her on again here. Feisty Mitole, by freshman sire Mitole, battled most of the way and grabbed a slight advantage before Dua’s stamina kicked in. Just relegated to fourth in the final strides by the closing Ur in Trouble and Hope Road, who dead-heated for second, Feisty Mitole could work out a different trip with the blinkers off on Saturday. But the Peter Miller pupil has drawn the rail. The Doug O’Neill-trained Ur in Trouble, from the first crop of Maximus Mischief, rattled home from off the pace to make it close at the wire.

Vinos Angel, by yet another freshman in Vino Rosso, romped by 7 1/4 lengths in her unveiling at Pleasanton. Kythira, a Kantharos filly from the family of Arcangelo and champion Rags to Riches, broke her maiden second time out at Santa Anita. Motet, by Mo Town, begins her career in this challenging spot.

Yellow Ribbon H. (G2) – Race 9 (9:15 p.m. ET)

Later in the $250,000 Yellow Ribbon H. (G2), Closing Remarks deserves high marks for honesty and consistency in the local filly and mare turf division. But the Carla Gaines mare has more often settled for minor awards in graded stakes. The Cal-bred earned her one graded laurel in the April 1 Royal Heroine (G2), and she’s subsequently wound up fourth in the Wilshire (G3) and sixth in the Gamely (G1). Perhaps reuniting with Umberto Rispoli, who hasn’t ridden her since 2021, will galvanize her. Rispoli guided Closing Remarks to a fine second in that summer’s Del Mar Oaks (G1).

Baffert could be going for a graded double in the Yellow Ribbon, where Ganadora tries turf in hopes of sparking a form turnaround. Since her eight-length conquest of the Dark Mirage S. at Los Alamitos last September, the $1 million Keeneland September yearling has been an underachiever. She’s been well beaten in three of her past four, the lone exception being a photo-finish loss as the Jan. 15 La Canada (G3) favorite. Freshened following a poor fourth behind stablemate Adare Manor in a March 31 allowance, the Quality Road filly could wake up on the surface switch. Another plus is the presence of Hernandez, who’s 3-for-3 aboard Ganadora.

Other new faces lining up in the 1 1/16-mile Yellow Ribbon are East Coast shipper Spirit and Glory and Phil D’Amato’s new recruit, Turnerloose. Spirit and Glory, winner of last year’s Virginia Oaks as well as the May 28 Miss Liberty S., was most recently fifth in a paceless Eatontown (G3) that did not set up for her at Monmouth Park. The Robert Falcone trainee will get Berrios, and a potentially better tempo, courtesy of Ganadora.

Turnerloose, previously with Brad Cox, was a useful turf performer who also upset the 2022 Rachel Alexandra (G2) on the dirt at Fair Grounds. The daughter of Nyquist has generally shown more upside on turf, as evidenced by her romp in the 2021 Juvenile Fillies at Kentucky Downs and graded placings at Keeneland. A near-miss third as a juvenile in the Jessamine (G2), Turnerloose was last seen finishing third in the Oct. 28 Valley View (G3).

D’Amato has strength in numbers with two more contenders, School Dance and Lucky Girl. School Dance is still looking for her first stakes win, but she’s been runner-up in the American Oaks (G1) and Royal Heroine. D’Amato told Daily Racing Form that School Dance won’t try to lead as she did in the Gamely, where the tactics backfired and she faded to seventh. Lucky Girl lost her way after winning a pair of stakes early in her sophomore campaign, but her troubled sixth in her Osunitas S. comeback hints that she’s regaining form.

While Awake at Midnyte has spent most of her time on dirt, the O’Neill pupil has run very well in her turf appearances, both of them on this course. The Reddam Racing colorbearer was denied by a nose in the 2021 Jimmy Durante (G3), then reverted to the main track. She placed in several stakes, including the aforementioned Rachel Alexandra and last fall’s La Brea (G1), but lacked consistency. Awake at Midnyte made just her second turf start in the Osunitas and took the runner-up spot again, suggesting that she might be more reliable on the grass.