07/20/2011 1:50PM

Del Mar: Duel would boost Willa B Awesome in CTBA Stakes


DEL MAR, Calif. – Willa B Awesome could be in the perfect spot in early stretch of Friday’s $100,000 California Thoroughbred Breeders Association Stakes at Del Mar.

With a pace duel possible between the maiden Evelyn Trouble and the recent maiden race winner Roar Baby Roar, jockey Garrett Gomez is likely to have Willa B Awesome just behind the leaders, well-positioned. If Willa B Awesome is going to win the CTBA Stakes, she is likely to rally from just behind the expected leaders.

“I think she’ll be sitting off the pace,” trainer Walther Solis said. “I think she has a good shot. The field didn’t come up that tough. The only horse that will give us a little competition is” Roar Baby Roar.

The field will be easier for Willa B Awesome than the entries indicate. Gogi, fourth in the Cinderella Stakes at Hollywood Park on June 11, will not start because of an undisclosed injury, trainer Mike Harrington said Wednesday.

The absence of Gogi leaves four starters in the race over 5 1/2 furlongs for statebred 2-year-old fillies. They are all searching for their first stakes win. Willa B Awesome was third in the Cinderella Stakes in her stakes debut and second start, while Heleonor Rugby was second in the Juan Gonzalez Memorial Stakes at Pleasanton on July 2, her third start and stakes debut for trainer A.C. Avila.

While Evelyn Trouble is winless in two starts in maiden claimers for trainer Marcelo Polanco, Roar Baby Roar is off to a promising start. After a second behind Heleonor Rugby in a maiden race June 2, Roar Baby Roar returned to win a similar race over five furlongs by 3 3/4 lengths at Hollywood Park on June 23. In both races, she disputed the early pace and led in the stretch. On June 2, Heleonor Rugby beat Roar Baby Roar by a length.

“We’ve always liked the horse,” trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said of Roar Baby Roar. “She ran accordingly. If we get some improvement, we can have a good chance.”

Jockey Rafael Bejarano has ridden Roar Baby Roar and Willa B Awesome in their first two career starts and will ride Roar Baby Roar in the CTBA Stakes. That opened the mount on Willa B Awesome to Gomez.

The form of the Cinderella Stakes has turned out to be productive. Race winner Killer Graces won the Landaluce Stakes last Saturday.