Updated on 09/17/2011 11:06AM

Atlantic Ocean due racing luck

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Atlantic Ocean, should run well from a stalking position behind Buffythecenterfold in Saturday's Grade 2 San Clemente Handicap at Del Mar.

DEL MAR, Calif. - Atlantic Ocean had more trouble than success in major stakes on turf at Hollywood Park earlier this year.

Atlantic Ocean finished second, a neck behind Quero Quero, in the Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap on June 7 after being stuck in traffic on the final turn. In the American Oaks on July 5, she ran third to the world-class Dimitrova despite traffic problems through the stretch.

With racing having moved to Del Mar, Atlantic Ocean can start anew when she runs in Saturday's $150,000 San Clemente Handicap at one mile on turf.

Trainer Bob Baffert will not have elaborate instructions for jockey Patrick Valenzuela, who has ridden the four-time stakes winner in her last two starts.

"I'd like to see Pat keep her out of trouble," Baffert said. "She has just one pace."

Atlantic Ocean is the 120-pound topweight in the Grade 2 San Clemente Handicap. She faces eight other 3-year-old fillies, including the entry of Katdogawn and Star Vega who have each won turf stakes races this year.

Other top contenders include multiple stakes winner Buffythecenterfold, who is making her turf debut; the European imports Bukat Timah and Cellamare; and Welcome Millenium, who finished 12th in the American Oaks in her first start in the United States.

Buffythecenterfold, the winner of four sprint stakes on dirt, is switching surfaces to stay within the 3-year-old filly division, trainer Mel Stute said. In her last start, Buffythecenterfold finished sixth as the favorite in the Grade 3 Azalea Breeders' Cup Stakes at six furlongs at Calder on July 12.

Saturday, Buffythecenterfold will be fitted with blinkers to keep her focused in the stretch. In March, she survived an objection from a rival after lugging out in the final furlong of the Santa Paula Stakes.

"She kind of wobbles down the stretch," Stute said.

The ex-Europeans are a talented group capable of winning.

Cellamare has won three races in France. Now trained by Frank Monteleone, she arrived last week and is making her debut for the partnership of Terry Lanni, Bernie Schiappa, and Joe Torre, the New York Yankees manager.

Bukat Timah has won her last two starts, including a minor stakes race at about 1 1/4 miles in San Siro, Italy, on May 1. She is making her first start for trainer Neil Drysdale.

Welcome Millenium was a stakes winner in France last August and has subsequently placed in four stakes races. She didn't live up to expectations in the American Oaks.

"She had a little bruise in her foot the last time she was shod," McAnally said. "I don't think it helped her chances in the American Oaks. I just hope she runs better."

Atlantic Ocean is the most successful of the entrants. Purchased for $1.9 million at the Barretts March 2-year-olds in-training sale, Atlantic Ocean has won 5 of 14 starts and $642,210 for The Thoroughbred Corp.

She should get an ideal trip in the San Clemente, stalking Buffythecenterfold, the expected pacesetter.

Last fall and winter, Atlantic Ocean won the Grade 3 Miesque Stakes on turf at Hollywood Park and the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel Stakes on dirt at Santa Anita by stalking the pace.

The same tactics on Saturday could end a streak of tough losses.

San Clemente Handicap - The field

Purse: $150,000; 1 mile; Grade 2

PP HORSE JOCKEY WT. ODDS
1 Katdogawn J. Krone 116 7-2
2 Atlantic Ocean P. Valenzuela 120 2-1
3 Cellamare G. Stevens 116 15-1
4 Bukat Timah C. Nakatani 116 3-1
5 Valentine Dancer K. Desormeaux 116 8-1
6 Welcome Millenium A. Solis 118 9-2
7 Buffythecenterfold V. Espinoza 118 8-1
8 Star Vega M. Smith 116 7-2
9 Fencelineneighbor J. Valdivia 114 20-1

* Coupled: Katdogawn and Star Vega

* Odds by Michael Hammersly

* Television: Saturday, 5-6 p.m. (Eastern), ESPN2