06/29/2010 11:00PM

City to City carving out own niche on turf

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - It is not easy for the 3-year-old filly City to City to gain attention in trainer Jerry Hollendorfer's stable at Hollywood Park. The same barn houses fellow 3-year-old filly Blind Luck, the winner of the Kentucky Oaks in April.

At least City to City does not have to face Blind Luck. Blind Luck has raced on dirt or synthetic tracks throughout her career; City to City has become a turf specialist.

Blind Luck has won four Grade 1 races to take the role of national division leader. City to City will be after her own milestone win at that level in Saturday's $250,000 American Oaks at Hollywood Park, her first start in a Grade 1.

The American Oaks is run over 1 1/4 miles on turf, and it is that distance that gives Hollendorfer confidence.

"We want to try her a little longer and see how she does," Hollendorfer said. "I think she's very good."

Owned by the trainer, Will deBurgh, and Mark DeDominico, City to City has not been worse than third in six starts on turf this year. The highlight was a win in the Grade 2 Providencia Stakes over 1 1/8 miles on turf at Santa Anita in April.

By City Zip, City to City has been third in two starts at this meeting, the Grade 3 Senorita Stakes over a mile on May 2 and the Grade 2 Honeymoon Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on May 31. In the latter race, she closed from last in a field of seven in the final three furlongs to finish a length behind Evening Jewel.

Unfortunately for Hollendorfer and his partners, City to City must beat the runner-up from that race in Cozi Rosie, the likely favorite in the American Oaks.

"I think it will be a tough race," he said.

The American Oaks will have a local field. In the past, the American Oaks purse has ranged from $500,000 to $750,000 and drawn runners from other parts of the world and the United States. A purse cut this year will keep the prize money among names familiar in Southern California.

"If the purse was still big, there would be some of those" shippers, Hollendorfer said.