07/22/2011 3:10PM

Del Mar: Maiden winner Dynamo may steal spotlight from San Clemente cast

Sarah's Secret brings a 4-for-4 record into the San Clemente Handicap, but may be overshadowed by Dynamo, who runs in a first-level allowance earlier on Sunday's card.

DEL MAR, Calif. – The 3-year-old filly turf division is about to get awfully crowded at Del Mar.

In separate races Sunday, dazzling maiden winner Dynamo and unbeaten Sarah’s Secret try to punch tickets for the Del Mar Oaks on Aug. 20, a Grade 1 stakes expected to include Nereid and Cambina, who recently dead-heated in the American Oaks.

First up is race 4 Sunday, an entry-level allowance in which Dynamo threatens to upstage the Grade 2 San Clemente, race 8, which features 4-for-4 Sarah’s Secret.

Maiden winners do not usually merit equal billing to undefeated stakes winners, but Dynamo’s pedigree and performance suggest she is the real deal.

“I think she’s pretty good,” trainer Richard Mandella said.

And her maiden win? “It was awesome.”

Dynamo, by Dynaformer, was produced by Grade 1 winner Salt Champ, making her a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Champ Pegasus.

“She’s twice as big as both of them,” Mandella said. “And she was a gorgeous filly right from the start.”

Dynamo made the second career start of her career against maidens June 26 at Hollywood. When the gates opened, she stumbled. Then she stumbled again, and again.

“It took about 20 yards for her to get a hold of the [turf],” jockey Joel Rosario said. “I was far back.”

They were dead last, behind a slow pace. Mandella figured the race was lost.

“After all that, she had every right to just split the field. She did more than that,” he said.

She did way more. Dynamo raced wide, unleashed a sweeping move on the far turn, circled rivals while losing ground, and won by a head. It was dazzling. On Sunday, Dynamo runs 1 1/16 miles against older fillies and mares, and if she runs well, Mandella confirmed, “We’ll look at the Oaks.”

Sarah’s Secret has accomplished more. Trained by Kathy Walsh, she won her first three starts before stretching out to nine furlongs in the Grade 2 Honeymoon Handicap on June 11. It was an ambitious spot; she had not raced beyond six furlongs. The Honeymoon is considered a prep race for the American Oaks.

“If we decided to go in the Honeymoon, it would be asking a lot of the filly,” Walsh said. “We decided we would do it, and then give her plenty of time.”

Sarah’s Secret made the lead in the Honeymoon, slowed down the pace, and won by a half-length.

Walsh skipped the American Oaks, a race that flattered the Honeymoon win by Sarah’s Secret. Cambina and Star Billing, three-two in the Honeymoon, returned to finish one-three in the American Oaks.

With six weeks between starts, Sarah’s Secret is ready to fire again.

“I’ve always spaced her races, and she’s settling better now in her training,” Walsh said.

David Flores, who was out of town the last time Sarah’s Secret ran, regains the mount.

The main rival for Sarah’s Secret is 1-for-3 Mizdirection, blocked the length of the lane last time in a turf sprint.

“She was going to win,” Garrett Gomez said. “What I liked about is when I dropped her head, she cut. For a speed horse to do that, it showed quality.”

Great Hot, 2 for 2 sprinting, was scratched May 7 from the Senorita Stakes when she got sick. Trainer A.C. Avila said she recovered and has trained well for her return, including a sharp seven-furlong workout July 10.

According to Avila, Great Hot outworked Imponente Purse, an older horse, that day. One week later, Imponente Purse won the Grade 3 Sunset at Hollywood.

Avila said “the only question mark is turf; the distance is not a problem.”