Competitive field of 11 entered in Del Mar Oaks
The San Clemente Handicap (G3) was a good prep for this one, sending runners a mile over the surface, and the Del Mar Oaks features the top three finishers from that July 23 contest.
Mokat posted the 3 3/4-length win in the San Clemente after trailing near the back early. The Richard Baltas pupil took over in the stretch following her winning rally and drew off to earn just her second career victory after breaking her maiden over the Del Mar turf last October.
Norberto Arroyo Jr. takes the mount on Mokat in this spot.
Lady Valeur was close throughout in the San Clemente, and managed to wrest away the lead briefly before finding Mokat too tough in the lane. The Paddy Gallagher-trained filly held second by three parts of a length over Stays in Vegas under Rafael Bejarano, who returns to the saddle for a fourth straight time.
Stays in Vegas entered the San Clemente off a neck third in the Honeymoon Stakes (G2) going nine furlongs on Santa Anita Park’s turf, and the usually forward-placed filly found herself all the way in last when cutting back to a mile. Nonetheless, the City Zip miss managed to put together a nice rally to get up for third for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.
Stays in Vegas and new jockey Flavien Prat stand a good chance at the win while returning to 1 1/8 miles.
Truthfully, there are any number in this field with a shot at winning. Tin Type Gal is exiting a neck victory in the Boiling Springs Stakes (G3) going nine furlongs at Monmouth Park on July 24, while Decked Out captured the Providencia Stakes (G3) going the distance over Santa Anita Park’s yielding grass in April.
That latter filly just missed when fourth in both the Senorita Stakes (G3) and Honeymoon Stakes (G3) in her next pair, and will try to rebound off a ninth in the 1 1/4-mile Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1) on July 9.
Tin Type Gal gets Joseph Talamo in the saddle for the first time on Saturday and Decked Out will once again have the services of Kent Desormeaux.
Barleysugar, Cheekaboo and Mrs. Norris were only separated by 2 3/4 lengths in the Sandy Blue Handicap on July 17 over course and distance, with the latter two dead-heating for second behind Barleysugar. The winner was making her U.S. debut in that race while Cheekaboo entered off a head triumph in the Honeymoon and Mrs. Norris tried stakes rivals for the first time.
Gary Stevens returns aboard Barleysugar, Santiago Gonzalez gets the call on Cheekaboo and Tyler Baze takes the mount on Mrs. Norris.
The Del Mar Oaks field is completed by Indiana Oaks (G2) third Mines and Magic, Grade 3 scorer Harmonize and stakes debuter Lynn’s Legacy.
Mokat photo courtesy of Benoit Photos