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Aaron previews the 2023 American Oaks (G1) from Santa Anita Park, then gives his top picks from this Opening Day event.
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With solid year-end credentials in hand, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Anisette seeks the biggest win of her career as heads a field of seven sophomore fillies in Tuesday’s Grade I, $300,000 American Oaks at a mile and quarter over the Santa Anta turf.
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Trained by Leonard Powell, English-bred Anisette’s only previous try at the Oaks distance came two starts back in Santa Anita’s Grade II Rodeo Drive on Oct. 7, a race in which she finished a close second. With regular rider Umberto Rispoli back aboard, she cut back in distance to one mile on grass Nov. 5, finishing second by 3 ¼ lengths in the Grade III Autumn Miss Stakes.
A dedicated deep closer, Anisette rallied for a come-from-behind win in her one mile turf U.S. debut May 29 and she followed that up with impressive scores in both the mile turf Grade II San Clemente July 22 and the mile and one eighth Grade I Del Mar Oaks on Aug. 19.
One for three in England, Anisette has three wins and a pair of seconds from her five stateside starts for Powell and will hope to be rolling late on Tuesday.
Irish-bred Be Your Best is another who would prefer to have a fast pace to exploit in Tuesday’s Oaks. In her first and only assignment versus male competition, she was last of 13 for most of the trip in the Grade II Twilight Derby at a mile and one eighth on turf here Nov. 4 and came rolling on the far outside to finish eighth, beaten just 1 ¾ lengths under Irad Ortiz, Jr., who rides her back.
A well beaten ninth in her only try at a mile and one quarter four starts back in the Belmont Oaks Invitational July 8, she shipped west to finish second, beaten 2 ¾ lengths by Anisette in the Grade I Del Mar Oaks Aug. 19.
Trained by Horacio De Paz and owned by Michael Ryan, Be Your Best is 10-2-2-1 overall with earnings of $284,250.
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