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Del Mar: Full sisters Sweet Assay, Fine Assay different as can be
By Brad Free
DEL MAR, Calif. – Sweet Assay and Fine Assay share the same pedigree, same trainer and same owner. But when the full sisters race three hours apart Wednesday at Del Mar, their differences will be conspicuous.
Sweet Assay is a sprinter whose odds will be short in race 1, a first-level optional claimer. Fine Assay is a distance filly whose odds will be long in race 7.
“They are two different types of fillies,” trainer Jorge Gutierrez said. “Sweet Assay is more of a compact filly, a sprinter. She looks like a colt.”
Sweet Assay should be tough to beat in the Wednesday opener, a five-furlong turf sprint for fillies and mares. In the feature race, Fine Assay will try to post an upset in a 1 1/16-mile turf allowance for 3-year-old fillies.
Fine Assay “is a lanky, tall filly, more of a two-turn filly,” Gutierrez said. “She is more feminine looking.”
Sweet Assay, 4, and Fine Assay, 3, were sired by Consolidator and produced by Unbridled Assay. They were bred by owners John and Cheryl Toffan, and expectations on Wednesday will be as distinct as their physical traits.
Sweet Assay is the likely favorite in race 1, her second start back after a terrific runner-up comeback July 26 under identical conditions. Gutierrez is bullish on her. “She’s doing fantastic,” he said. “She is getting stronger.”
Rafael Bejarano rides 1-for-4 Sweet Assay, whose front-running style is complemented by the course profile. The turf rails will be moved Wednesday to a 14-foot setting, but this summer the positioning of the rails has made little difference. Speed wins turf sprints.
Ten of the 13 turf sprints this meet have been won by the pacesetter or a horse within one length of the lead after the opening quarter-mile. Sweet Assay and jockey Rafael Bejarano will be forwardly placed from post 3, outside main pace rival Brilliant Melody. Brilliant Melody moves up in class after defeating California-bred fillies and mares.
The race-1 field also includes stakes-placed Upbeat Mood, route-to-sprint Golden Production, and Avarooskie.
Things are tougher for younger sister Fine Assay in race 7. She faces the improving Burns Turn, stakes winner Qiaona, and lightly raced Broken Sword, whose speed figures will make her one of the favorites.
Yet while Fine Assay is tough to make a case for, she is not impossible.
“She is training better,” Gutierrez said. “I’ve had a lot of little setbacks with her between races, but not this time. She seems to be coming around, and her last race wasn’t a bad race. I think she’ll give a good account of herself.”
In fact, the fifth-place finish last out by Fine Assay was arguably the best race of her career. She will be ridden by Sal Gonzalez Jr.
Favoritism in the race-7 feature could go to Ed Moger-trained Qiaona, runner-up last out in the Fleet Treat Stakes. Qiaona won the $300,000 California Breeders’ Champion Stakes at Santa Anita in January.
Garrett Gomez rides Qiaona.
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