INGLEWOOD, Calif. (July 2, 2009) — New York filly Gozzip Girl, a winner of three straight races on turf, will attempt to become the fifth straight invader to win the $700,000 American Oaks on Sunday at Hollywood Park.
The daughter of Dynaformer will be ridden by New York-based Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux, who was a regular at Hollywood Park when he rode Ticker Tape in 2004 — the last local winner of the Grade I event.
Desormeaux, who has four Hollywood Park riding titles to his credit, has good and bad Oaks memories. He reached the finish first aboard Dublino in the inaugural running in 2002, only to have his mount disqualified and placed second behind Megahertz for interference in the stretch.
The Louisiana native and Gozzip Girl will have to be at their best in the eighth running of the Oaks, which has attracted a top field of 14 fillies from around the globe. The field for the 1 1/4-mile turf event will line up as follows from the rail out:
Gozzip Girl, Desormeaux up, the 7-2 morning-line favorite on Russ Hudak’s line; Magical Affair, Julien Leparoux, 6-1; Third Dawn, Garrett Gomez, 20-1; Apple Charlotte, Mike Smith, 4-1; Rare Ransom, Patrick Smullen, 12-1; Puttanesca, Glen Boss, 15-1; Acting Lady, Rafael Bejarano, 12-1; Pretty Unusual, Tyler Baze, 50-1; Nan, Corey Nakatani, 20-1; Afternoon Stroll, Joseph Talamo, 30-1; The Best Day Ever, Corey Lanerie, 15-1; Lexlenos, Alex Solis, 30-1; Well Monied, Joel Rosario, 9/2, and Mrs Kipling, David Flores, 6-1.
Gozzip Girl, trained by Thomas Albertrani for Farnsworth Stables, won the Grade II Sands Point on a yielding turf course at Belmont Park in her last start, defeating fellow Oaks starter Magical Affair in the process. Winner of back-to-back turf stakes at Gulfstream Park during the winter, she finished second in the Grade I Ashland while testing Keeneland’s synthetic surface one start prior to the Sands Point. A winner of four of seven starts overall, she enters the Oaks with earnings of $362,194.
Gozzip Girl will be joined by six other fillies from out of town, including three with international connections, in an all-out assault on the best turf fillies in California.
The international cast features Apple Charlotte from Henry Cecil’s yard in England, Rare Ransom from the renowned stable of Irish trainer Dermot Weld, and Puttanesca from New Zealand.
A strong local contingent — led by C.T. Grether Inc.‘s Well Monied — will also be challenged by graded stakes winner Afternoon Stroll from Pennsylvania, graded stakes-placed The Best Day Ever from Kentucky and stakes-placed Magical Affair from Maryland.
Weld, who shipped Dress To Thrill here to win the 2002 Matriarch, Dimatrova to win the 2003 American Oaks and Grey Swallow to win the 2006 Jim Murray Memorial Handicap, looks to have another serious horse in Rare Ransom, fourth most recently in the Irish 1000 Guineas at The Curragh. Winner of a stakes at one mile prior to that, she is also Group placed.
“She compares very favorably with Dimitrova,” said Weld. “She comes off a fourth-place finish in the Irish 1000 Guineas. Dimitrova finished third in the same race.”
Rare Ransom, an English-bred daughter of Oasis Dream, has won two of seven starts in Ireland.
“I’ve been very lucky at Hollywood Park, and hope that continues,” said Weld. “She’s an adaptable filly and she shipped well. She’s matured well from two to three, and I think the best is yet to come with this filly.”
Apple Charlotte might be the best of the international horses with three wins in four starts. She is a nose from perfection, and with two starts at 1 ¼ miles, she joins Puttanesca as the only fillies with experience at the Oaks distance.
Puttanesca is trained by Wayne Hillis, who saddled Boulevard of Dreams to a seventh-place finish in 2004. She is Group placed at 1 ¼ miles and has started twice at 1 ½ miles, finishing 15th in the New Zealand Derby and seventh in the New Zealand Oaks.
“Puttanesca is more athletic and has a good turn of foot to suit the short straight,” Hillis said. “Boulevard of Dreams was more of a mile-and-a-half horse.”
Afternoon Stroll won the Grade III Appalachian at Keeneland, The Best Day Ever finished second in the Grade III Regret at Churchill Downs,and Magical Affair was second in the Edgewood at Churchill before finishing fourth in the Sands Point.
Well Monied, a daughter of Maria’s Mon who is conditioned by Howard Zucker, has a streak similar to that of Gozzip Girl since moving to the turf. Fourth, beaten one length in her first start on grass in February, she has reeled off three straight wins, culminating with a victory here in the Grade II Honeymoon Handicap on May 31. She rallied from seventh and drew away in the stretch to win by 1 ¼ lengths.
Mrs Kipling, owned by celebrity chef Bobby Flay and trained by Hall of Fame member Neil Drsydale, scored an impressive 2 1/2-length victory here in the one-mile Senorita on the Lakeside Turf Course while making her last start on May 3. A winner of two of five starts in Europe a year ago, the Irish-bred filly finished second behind Acting Lady in the Providencia while making her North American debut at Santa Anita in April.
Acting Lady and Lexlenos finished second and third, respectively, in the Honeymoon; Nan shifts back to turf where she has a pair of seconds and a third after a fifth-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks, and Pretty Unusual returns to the green after a win in the Melair and a sixth-place finish in the Hollywood Oaks on Cushion Track.
The American Oaks will run as the eighth race on Sunday’s 11-race program at Hollywood Park. First post is at 1 p.m.
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