06/28/2010 11:00PM

Conniption can add to Callaghan's glory

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Benoit & Associates
Turning Top gave trainer Simon O'Callaghan his first graded stakes victory in last weekend's Beverly Hills.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Turning Top gave trainer Simon Callaghan his first graded stakes win in the United States in the Grade 3 Beverly Hills Handicap at Hollywood Park last Saturday. The 3-year-old filly Conniption can give Callaghan a more prestigious milestone, his first win in a Grade 1, in Saturday's $250,000 American Oaks.

With only eight horses in his Santa Anita-based stable, Callaghan, 26, would have an excellent start to the summer if Conniption runs well in the American Oaks, which is run over 1 1/4 miles on turf. The race will be the filly's first start in a Grade 1.

"I think she'll have a real solid chance," Callaghan said. "I figure us as the third or fourth [choice] in the betting."

Conniption is owned by Michael Tabor, who also owns Turning Top. Tabor has given Callaghan significant support since the trainer arrived from England last winter.

Last year, Conniption was trained by Brian Meehan in England, where she won a maiden race and was fourth or fifth in three stakes. For Callaghan in California, Conniption was third in an allowance race at Santa Anita in April and won an allowance race over a mile here on May 20.

She will need to show improvement to win the American Oaks.

"We're going in with a chance to be placed, and anything else will be a bonus," Callaghan said.

Upon its inception in 2002, the American Oaks drew runners from throughout the United States and other parts of the world. But a reduction in purse over the last few years will make the race a local affair on Saturday. The race was previously worth $500,000 to $750,000.

Saturday's field is expected to include the stakes winners City to City and Cozi Rosie, the stakes-placed Andina, and Harmonious, Riviera Chic, and Weekend Magic. Riviera Chic was supplemented to the race for $5,000 on Sunday.

Turning Top won her fourth consecutive race in the Beverly Hills, over 1 1/4 miles on turf. The winning streak includes two optional claimers and the restricted Redondo Beach Stakes in May.

Callaghan said the $250,000 John Mabee Stakes, a Grade 1 for fillies and mares over 1 1/8 miles on turf at Del Mar on Aug. 15, is a strong possibility.

"When you have a progressive filly, you don't know where it will stop," he said.

Turning Top, an Irish-bred 4-year-old filly by Pivotal, has won 6 of 15 starts and $176,943.

"She deserves to be in a Grade 1," Callaghan said. "She's just really moved up since she came over here. Like most Pivotals, she's progressing with age."