07/20/2012 3:42PM

Del Mar: Eden's Moon making turf experiment in San Clemente

Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Bob Baffert said he wants to see if Eden's Moon likes running on grass.

DEL MAR, Calif. – The presence of the Grade 1 winner Eden’s Moon in Sunday’s $150,000 San Clemente Handicap on turf at Del Mar does not reflect a long-term surface switch for the inconsistent filly.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert considers the Grade 2 San Clemente Handicap over a mile to be an experiment, one that could provide further options in the future.

“I want to see if she likes it,” Baffert said of turf.

Eden’s Moon worked a half-mile in 48.40 seconds on turf last Monday.

[SAN CLEMENTE HANDICAP: Get PPs, news, video, and wager]

While the work was considered encouraging, the San Clemente will provide a better assessment of her ability on the surface. Eden’s Moon is one of four stakes winners in the field of eight, including Byrama, Indigo River, and Killer Graces.

Later in this meeting, they could start in the top race for 3-year-old turf fillies, the $300,000 Del Mar Oaks, to be run on Aug. 18. As a main-track alternative, Baffert is considering the $1 million Cotillion Stakes at Parx Racing on Sept. 22 for Eden’s Moon.

“That’s the race I’m pointing her for,” he said.

Eden’s Moon is winless in three starts since the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita on March 3. After a third in the Santa Anita Oaks on March 31, Eden’s Moon was dismal in the Kentucky Oaks, finishing last of 14. She rebounded to run an improved race when second by a nose to Potesta in the Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks at Betfair Hollywood Park on June 23.

Eden’s Moon tends to run near the front, and could have a challenge for the lead from Indigo River.

Trained by Jeff Mullins, Indigo River won the Sweet Life Stakes on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita in February and was third behind Lady of Shamrock in the China Doll Stakes in March, her most recent start. Lady of Shamrock won the Grade 1 American Oaks at Hollywood Park on July 14.

Indigo River was sidelined in the spring after she injured her jaw in an apparent stall accident. Mullins was unable to determine the cause of the injury.

“She could have gotten her mouth caught on something,” he said. “She could have gotten it stuck.”

Mullins considers the San Clemente as a prep race for future starts.

“She’ll probably need the race,” he said. “If we can get a good race in her and come out of it, we can move on.”

Killer Graces, the winner of the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet Stakes last December, has run once on turf, finishing third behind Lady of Shamrock in the Grade 3 Providencia Stakes at Santa Anita in April. She was fourth behind Potesta in the Hollywood Oaks.

Byrama won the Manhattan Beach Stakes over six furlongs on turf on June 9, her first stakes win. She has yet to win beyond about 6 1/2 furlongs, but was second in the Providencia over 1 1/8 miles on turf.

“She’s still improving,” trainer Simon Callaghan said. But he recognizes that Eden’s Moon is a tough opponent, saying, “If the Baffert filly transfers her dirt form to turf, she’ll be hard to beat.”