Updated on 09/15/2011 2:06PM

Countdown to the Cup: Juv. Fillies (9/27)


Habibti figures to strengthen her status as the leading juvenile filly in the West on Sunday when she heads a short field expected for the Grade 1 Oak Leaf Stakes at Santa Anita.

Habibti, a daughter of Tabasco Cat, was initially being pointed to the Grade 1 Frizette at Belmont on Oct. 6, but trainer Bob Baffert said he likes that the Oak Leaf gives Habibti an extra week leading up the $1 million Juvenile Fillies on Oct. 27.

"If the Frizette was this week I probably would have gone," Baffert said.

The Oak Leaf figures to be an easy spot for Habibti, who is 2 for 2, including a victory in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante on Aug. 26, in which she covered seven furlongs in 1:22.22. Baffert believes Habibti should only get better as the she goes longer.

"I was surprised she won going 5 1/2 [furlongs]," said Baffert, referring to Habibti's maiden win on July 29. "She does it easy, has a beautiful way of moving, and she should get better with age. She's a pretty awesome filly. I'm pretty excited about her."

With Del Mar Debutante runner-up Who Loves Aleyna out for the year with a fractured shin, and Debutante show horse Tempera training up to the Breeders' Cup, Habibti figures to face a light field in the Oak Leaf. Among those expected to run are Ayanna, who finished second to Habibti in a maiden race; Imperial Gesture, an impressive maiden winner at Saratoga; Roaring Blaze; Farda Amiga, and Miss Louisette.

The Oak Leaf is the only race of significance in the division this weekend.

Next week, Keeneland hosts the Walmac International Alcibiades, which figures to include Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Playing 'n Gold and Smok 'n Frolic. In the Grade 1 Frizette at Belmont, Cashier's Dream and You are

expected to square off.

Cashier's Dream, the Spinaway winner, had a very impressive workout at Belmont on Sunday, covering seven furlongs in 1:25.52, with a last furlong in 12 seconds.

Other possible starters for the Frizette are Treasure Gem, a 7 1/4-length winner of the Blue Hen Stakes at Delaware Park, Bella Bellucci, Boston Twist, Cherokee Girl, and Riskaverse.

Trainer Ken McPeek, who sent out She's a Devil Due to a third-place finish in last year's Juvenile Fillies, said Take Charge Lady "is faster than She's a Devil Due." Take Charge Lady, a daughter of Dehere, won her maiden last spring at Keeneland but bucked her shins in that race. She returned to win a mile allowance race at Turfway on Sept. 8 and will make her stakes debut in the Alcibiades.

Trainer Ben Perkins Jr. said Forest Heiress, an undefeated Jersey-bred filly, will be kept sprinting this year and will not be pointed to the Juvenile Fillies. She is expected to run next in the Astarita at Belmont on Oct. 8.