08/16/2012 3:11PM

Del Mar: Lady of Shamrock won't be easy to beat in Oaks

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Benoit & Associates
Lady of Shamrock's only loss on turf this year came to My Gi Gi (white cap) in the Honeymoon Handicap.

DEL MAR, Calif. – One loss, by a nose, has kept Lady of Shamrock from a perfect record on turf this year. Her strong record does not seem to have impressed the owners and trainers of her nine rivals in Saturday’s $300,000 Del Mar Oaks for 3-year-old fillies.

“We didn’t scare anyone off,” said John Sadler, who trains Lady of Shamrock. “They’ve come to run.”

Or, maybe they have come to run second to Lady of Shamrock.

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The winner of the Grade 1 American Oaks over 1 1/4 miles on turf at Betfair Hollywood Park on July 14, Lady of Shamrock will be a heavy favorite in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks, which is run over 1 1/8 miles on turf.

Owned by Kosta Hronis, Lady of Shamrock tries to win her fifth stakes since Christmas in the Del Mar Oaks.

Sadler envisions the Del Mar Oaks as a prep race for a start in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita on Nov. 2. Lady of Shamrock has already won over the distance of that race – 1 1/4 miles.

“She’s taking the steps and going through the races,” Sadler said. “We’re excited.”

While Lady of Shamrock is arguably at her best at 1 1/4 miles, Sadler said he is not concerned about the shorter distance of the Del Mar Oaks. Lady of Shamrock won the Grade 3 Providencia Stakes over 1 1/8 miles at Santa Anita in April but was second by a nose to My Gi Gi after a tough trip at that distance in the Grade 2 Honeymoon Handicap at Hollywood Park on June 9.

“If we were backing up in distance, maybe, but at a mile and an eighth I think she’s fine,” Sadler said.

The American Oaks drew a strong field of eight, and the Del Mar Oaks has an equally talented group, including five other stakes winners – Best Present Ever, Eden’s Moon, Indigo River, My Gi Gi, and Stormy Lucy. The other four entrants are stakes placed – Cozze Up Lady, Long Face, Mary Fildes, and Open Water.

Eden’s Moon and Open Water were first and second in the Grade 2 San Clemente Handicap over a mile on turf here on July 22.

Trained by Bob Baffert, Eden’s Moon won the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita in March, but lost her next three starts. She rebounded with a front-running win in the San Clemente Handicap.

Baffert considers Eden’s Moon strength to be dirt racing, but said she is suited to Del Mar’s turf course.

“She likes a fast surface,” he said. “She’s been training well.”

Open Water made her turf debut in the San Clemente, and closed from fifth to run well as a 27-1 outsider.

“She ran lights out on the turf,” trainer Eric Guillot said. “I think she wants the distance.”

The speedy Eden’s Moon will be closely tracked by several fillies, including Best Present Ever.

The winner of the Campanile Stakes for California-breds at Golden Gate Fields in June, Best Present Ever was third in the American Oaks, leading to the eighth pole. “If we can duplicate that, we’ll be all right,” trainer Eric Kruljac said.

Best Present Ever is likely to stalk the pace, and could be well suited to the distance, trainer Eric Kruljac said.

“I won’t have my filly on the lead,” he said. “She’ll relax.”

At the same time, he is realistic about beating Lady of Shamrock. “Lady of Shamrock is a monster,” he said.