Peace and War needs to win Ashland battle while Santa Anita Oaks comes up grassy

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Jen Caldwell

April 3rd, 2015

Saturday’s $500,000 Ashland S. (G1) at Keeneland is do or die time for Peace and War (War Front).

The Olly Stevens trainee currently has 10 points toward a starting berth in the Kentucky Oaks (G1), and needs both the points and race to ready for that May 1 contest at Churchill Downs.

Peace and War actually made her last start, and U.S. debut, at Keeneland during the fall meet. On that occasion the bay filly took the Alcibiades S. (G1) by a half-length on a wet-fast surface. Those same conditions might pop up again on Saturday with all the rain Central Kentucky has been drenched with over the past couple days.

Regardless, Peace and War faces a tough task in coming back from a more than six-month break. She faces only six rivals in the Ashland, but all but one have two starts already in 2015.

The only filly with just one start this season is Angela Renee (Bernardini), and she’s eligible to move forward in this spot in her second sophomore try. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the bay lass captured the Chandelier S. (G1) last year at Santa Anita Park, but proceeded to be beat by double-digit lengths in her final two of the season, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and Demoiselle S. (G2)

Angela Renee returned off that latter event in late November to finish fourth in the Rachel Alexandra S. (G3) by 2 3/4 lengths on February 21. She earned a nice 93 BRIS Speed rating for the effort, which saw her miss second by only a head and a neck when the wire came too soon for her game rally down the center of the track.

Running second in the Rachel Alexandra was Lovely Maria (Majesticperfection), who lines back up here. The Larry Jones pupil was trying graded rivals for the first time that day and reputed herself well. She wired an allowance/optional claimer to open her three-year-old campaign in January and brings a second from Keeneland’s 2014 fall meet into this one.

Lassofthemohicans (Indian Charlie) also ran at Keeneland last fall, just missing by a nose in a maiden special weight affair. She finally broke her maiden at Gulfstream Park on December 28 when wiring a one-mile event by five lengths, and returned a month later to be second in the Forward Gal S. (G2). She could rebound in the Ashland off a fifth in the Davona Dale.

West Coast Belle (Tapit) closed out her juvenile campaign with a nice win in the Golden Rod S. (G2) at Churchill Downs, but hasn’t been able to duplicate that performance in a pair of tries this year. Temper Mint Patty (Congrats) and Silverpocketsfull (Indian Charlie) were both well-beaten in their last two and might need an easier spot.

Across the country in Southern California a field of eight was entered in the $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks (G1), but turf filly She’s a Big Winner (Bellamy Road) has already been scratched in favor of the $200,000 Honeymoon S. (G2) on the grass May 3. That just leaves two grass fillies in the main-track Santa Anita Oaks.

Curlin’s Fox (Curlin) will be making her dirt debut after running exclusively on Santa Anita’s green in her initial two starts, including a second in the China Doll S. to fellow Santa Anita Oaks entrants Singing Kitty (Ministers Wild Cat). That latter filly has some experience on main tracks, but that came against state-bred and claiming rivals, and she didn’t really blossom until switching to grass.

The main contenders in the Santa Anita Oaks are Stellar Wind (Curlin), Light the City (Street Sense) and Glory (Tapit), the respective top three from the February 28 Santa Ysabel S. (G3) over track and distance.

Stellar Wind was making her first start for new trainer John Sadler in the Santa Ysabel after breaking her maiden by 8 3/4 lengths for conditioner Donald Barr at Laurel Park. She prevailed by 2 3/4 lengths following a four wide move around the turn.

Glory and Light the City were just to Stellar Wind’s inside, all three running in tandem with the rail-hugging pacesetter while rounding the turn. The eventual top three kept motoring as the longtime leader faded in the stretch, with Stellar Wind going best of all for the victory.

Light the City and Glory will do their best to turn the tables on Stellar Wind, but that filly effortlessly drew away in the lane and appears likely to do the same again in the Santa Anita Oaks.

There are two stakes debuters in the race, with Luminance (Tale of the Cat) boasting a perfect two-for-two mark and maiden scorer Wild at Heart (Indian Charlie) just missing by a nose in an allowance/optional claimer last out. The Santa Anita Oaks may have come up a bit light, but this is still a tough spot to be trying stakes rivals for the first time.