09/12/2013 3:16PM

Barretts at Fairplex: City by the Bay bargain-priced Debutante favorite

Benoit & Associates
Meinertzhageni used a stretch rally to win this Del Mar maiden race, and could be a late threat in the Barretts Debutante.

POMONA, Calif. – She was Hip No. 15 at the Barretts May sale of 2-year-olds in training, and she was likely to be outside trainer Bill Morey’s budget.

After all, City by the Bay previously sold for $110,000 at a yearling auction, breezed in a snappy 10.20 seconds at Barretts, and was by the popular stallion City Zip.

“I had pretty much written her off as too high,” Morey said. “She worked super, and initially we didn’t think we could get her.”

Morey and owners Martin Bach and Jack Owens hoped the filly’s diminutive size would let her slip the though the cracks. And she did. City by the Bay was purchased for only $40,000.

“We got real lucky to buy her,” Morey said. “She is, and was, on the small side. That’s how we got her. Her size made her fall into our price range. If she was big and burly, we probably would not have.”

The best things sometimes come in small packages, and when City by the Bay made her debut July 31 at Santa Rosa, Morey sensed he had landed a bargain. Bettors were dialed in, and hammered her to 8-5 favoritism.

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City by the Bay scored an impressive first-out victory by 4 1/2 lengths, an effort that makes her the horse to beat Saturday in the $100,000 Barretts Debutante at the Los Angeles County Fair. The knock – she is the least experienced horse in the field.

“We’re going in a little light on seasoning,” Morey said. “Some of those other fillies have had four or five races, but there was no time.”

The 6 1/2-furlong Debutante, restricted to 2-year-old fillies offered at any Barretts sale, attracted 11 entrants; 10 can start.

City by the Bay’s main early challenge should come from speedball Side Letter.

Fresh, fast and dropping from a Grade 2, Side Letter will keep the favorite company. If neither handles the heat, another “unpopular” filly could win from behind.

Meinertzhageni was also offered at the May sale, but failed to reach her $14,000 reserve. A daughter of Stormin Fever, Meinertzhageni ended up with trainer Jeff Bonde, and scored a sharp maiden win Aug. 17 in her second start. Her closing style could play well.

Side Letter was sold at the Barretts summer Del Mar paddock sale for $150,000 after a maiden win and a runner-up finish in a minor stakes.

In her first start for trainer Peter Miller, she set the pace to the quarter pole in the Grade 2 Sorrento Stakes before tiring. That was five weeks ago. She adds blinkers, drops in class, and probably is quicker than City by the Bay.

City by the Bay, however, has shown she can handle a pace duel. She arrived Monday at Barretts, has been training all week on the five-furlong track, and is the logical favorite under Juan Hernandez.

The others in the field are Pay the Debt, Harlington’s Rose, Kantina Kowgirl, Time for Angie, Analemma, Wired for Fun, Perched, and also-eligible Yes.