07/20/2011 2:16PM

Del Mar: Avila hopes for fast start to meet with four of his best horses

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Benoit & Associates
Celtic Princess, winning the Royal Heroine, will challenge males in the Eddie Read Stakes.

DEL MAR, Calif. – By Sunday evening, trainer A.C. Avila will know how much his 31-horse string can accomplish at Del Mar this summer.

From Friday through Sunday, Avila starts four of the leading horses in his stable – Heleonor Rugby in Friday’s $100,000 CTBA Stakes for statebred 2-year-old fillies, Great Warrior in an optional claimer for 3-year-olds on turf on Friday; Celtic Princess against males in Saturday’s $300,000 Eddie Read Stakes; and Great Hot in Sunday’s $150,000 San Clemente Handicap for 3-year-old fillies.

One winner would put Avila on course for a successful seven-week meeting which runs through Sept. 7.

“It’s Del Mar,” he said. “If you get five or six winners, you better be happy.”

All four of the runners are owned by Luiz Fernando Dannemann.

Heleonor Rugby is part of five fillies entered in the CTBA Stakes, which is expected to scratch to four starters. Gogi sustained an undisclosed injury and will not start, trainer Mike Harrington said on Wednesday.

Avila hopes Heleonor Rugby can be a factor from just off the pace. He was happy with her final workout last Sunday, which was officially three furlongs in 36.20 seconds though he disputed the time.

“She worked good here,” Avila said. “They timed her in 36 [seconds]. I caught her in [34.60]. I don’t care. I care Friday. I went her to do 34 on Friday. She’ll sit and make a run.”

Great Warrior faces a tough field in Friday’s seventh race. Equally as concerning, Avila said some of Great Warrior’s recent blood tests have not been ideal since a third-place finish against a similar field at Hollywood Park on June 25.

“I hope he gets the job done,” Avila said. “The last month since he finished a flat third; he’s been fighting his blood.”

Celtic Princess will be the lone mare in the Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes over 1 1/8 miles on turf, her first start since a win in the Grade 2 Royal Heroine Stakes against fillies and mares at a mile on turf at Hollywood Park on July 4. Avila would prefer to wait for the $250,000 John Mabee Stakes for fillies and mares over 1 1/8 miles on turf on Aug. 14, but Dannemann would like to try the Grade 1 Read, Avila said.

“I have to do what the boss wants to do,” he said. “I’m not 100 percent comfortable with it.”

The Eddie Read has an expected field of eight – led by the stakes winners Acclamation, Caracortado, and Smart Bid. It is Caracortado and Smart Bid, trained by Graham Motion, that most concerns Avila.

“It’s a two-horse race – Graham Motion and Caracortado,” Avila said. “Caracortado looked like a Grade 1 horse the way he worked the other day. It was scary.”

The filly with the most potential is Great Hot, who beat maidens in her career debut in Brazil last October and won her American debut with a remarkable rally in an optional claimer at Santa Anita in March. Illness kept her out of the Senorita Stakes at Hollywood Park in early May, Avila said. Her works this year have been mixed, sometimes brilliant, but average on other occasions.

“She worked like a Breeders’ Cup horse at Santa Anita,” Avila said. “I worked her here on the turf and she only worked okay. She can be lazy by herself.”

The San Clemente field is led by the unbeaten Sarah’s Secret, who has won her first four starts.

Regardless of how those runners perform this week for Avila, he has another major horse waiting for the end of the season. Imponente Purse, who won the Grade 3 Sunset Handicap at Hollywood Park last Sunday, will be pointed for the $200,000 Del Mar Handicap over 1 3/8 miles on turf on Aug. 28.