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HOT SPRINGS, AR – Trainer Bob Baffert’s 3-year-old filly Merneith – once considered Baffert’s best chance at winning this year’s Kentucky Oaks (G1) – will try to break her maiden at third asking in Sunday’s 10th and final race at Oaklawn Park.
A first-crop daughter of the 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, Merneith was purchased for $600,000 as an unraced juvenile by HRH Prince Sultan Bin Mishal Al Saud before being joining Baffert’s stable.
Merneith debuted at Santa Anita Park on January 20, finishing second by 1 length in a 6 1/2-furlong dirt sprint. Baffert stretched her out to a two-turn maiden special weight contest on February 23, a race which she led until the final jumps before getting nipped by a nose.
Sunday’s 6-furlong sprint will be the speedy daughter of Uncle Mo’s shortest distance traversed. After shipping to Oaklawn Park in early April, she completed a 4-furlong workout on April 11 in a bullet best-of-122 :46.80 time.
Here is the full field for Sunday’s 10th race, a 6-furlong dirt sprint for 12 maiden fillies ages 3 and up:
1. Ocean Breeze (6/1) – This Gary and Mary West homebred daughter of Curlin will be asked to make her career bow from the rail. She is the first foal to race from the multiple Grade 3-placed mare Oceanwave, who broke her maiden in her second race at age 2. In the past five years, trainer Wayne Catalano is 0-for-44 with first-time starters.
2. Dancewiththedevil (30/1) – She is a first-crop daughter of Daredevil, who earned won the 2014 Champagne Stakes (G1). Thus far, his offspring are 10-2-2-0 when debuting at age 3. Her dam, Heartbeat Again, retired as a three-race maiden. Trainer Anthony Quartarolo is winless in 21 starts this season.
3. Tiz a Goddess (8/1) – This late-blooming 4-year-old is one of two elders in the field but did not enter the starting gate until February 29, 2020. She finished second over this same course and distance for trainer Mike Maker, who wins at a 20% clip with second-start maidens.
4. Visual Magic (10/1) – The field’s other 4-year-old will be making her first start for new trainer J R Caldwell, who claimed the daughter of Jimmy Creed for $50,000 after she finished third in a local mile event. Caldwell is 12% with horses running first off of the claim but 17% in maiden special weight events, and running her protected here hints at his faith in her ability.
5. Ms. Dragonette (20/1) – Trainer Ben Colebrook is sending two fillies here to the dirt for the first time, starting with this Bob McCann homebred. The daughter of Mr Speaker debuted over the Turfway Park synthetic surface on February 2, leading for the first half of the 6 1/2-furlong sprint before giving way.
6. Eden (12/1) – The other Colebrook runner transitioning from synthetic to dirt, Eden missed winning a mile-long event at Turfway Park on March 7 by a nose in her second start. Colebrook wins 13% on the dirt and in sprints and has tapped Joe Rocco, Jr., to ride this daughter of Curlin.
7. Gypsy’s Feather (20/1) – Trainer David Vance is hoping that she can follow several other Munnings offspring, who have won at a 16% rate when debuting at age 3 or older. However, Gypsy’s Feather will have to buck the trend her half-siblings; none of the seven other Favorite Feather foals to race won their debuts.
8. It’s Mine (9/2) – Merneith is not the only big-ticket purchase hoping to break her maiden here; It’s Mine was a $410,000 purchase. Trainer Steve Asmussen wins 17% with first-time starters and has placed his go-to rider Ricardo Santana, Jr., aboard this daughter of Medaglia d’Oro.
9. Saintsation (8/1) – This Bernard Flint trainee has improved in each of her three starts, most recently finishing second against a similar field over the same course and distance. Tyler Baze will ride for Flint, who has a 21% win rate at the maiden special weight level.
10. Good Shabbos (10/1) – Trainer Jeremiah Englehart will be hoping that a good Sabbath will lead to success for this Gold Square-owned daughter of Munnings. She hit the board in all four starts at age 2, including missing by a nose on debut, then ran third in her 2020 debut over this same course and distance. If she needed that last race to shake off the rust, then she could be live at a price here.
11. Skykat (20/1) – This first-crop daughter of Sky Kingdom will hope to do what her sire could not: win on debut. This sprinting distance might not ultimately be her best game because all six of Sky Kingdom’s wins came going two turns, including twice taking the 1 1/2-mile Toky City Cup (G3).
12. Merneith (9/5) – Will the third time be the charm? Her dam, Flattermewithroses, broke her maiden in a 7-furlong turf sprint at age 2 and her lone older half-sibling to race, More Roses, has won both of her career starts to date. Perhaps this short distance will better help her utilize her early gate speed.
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