08/15/2013 2:25PM

Del Mar Oaks runs through Kitten's Dumplings

Tom Keyser
Kitten's Dumplings has won the Lake George (above), Regret and Edgewood in her last three starts.

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DEL MAR, Calif. – Kitten’s Dumplings may not be the most composed filly in the paddock prior to Saturday’s $300,000 Del Mar Oaks.

“She’ll be washed out and her head will go up and down,” trainer Mike Maker said. “That’s just her. She’s a lot better than she was when she was younger.”

Despite her nervous behavior, Kitten’s Dumplings has been brilliant in recent races. When she starts as the expected favorite in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks, Kitten’s Dumplings will be after her fourth consecutive stakes win and the fifth of her career.

Owned by breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Kitten’s Dumplings is part of a competitive Del Mar Oaks, which is run at 1 1/8 miles on turf. The Ramseys also start Emotional Kitten, who was second in the Grade 1 American Oaks at Betfair Hollywood Park on July 13. Trained by Wesley Ward, Emotional Kitten was a stakes winner at Pimlico in May.

They are opposed by eight fillies, all stakes winners – Charlie Em, Discreet Marq, Doinghardtimeagain, Ighraa, Need You Now, Pearlside, Unusual Way, and Wishing Gate. Sarach, who won the Grade 2 Honeymoon Handicap at Hollywood Park, is entered in the Oaks, but was expected to run in Friday’s Sandy Blue Handicap.

Kitten’s Dumplings has won 5 of 10 starts and earned $433,262. A filly by Kitten’s Joy, Kitten’s Dumplings has an active winning streak that includes the Edgewood Stakes and Grade 3 Regret Stakes at Churchill Downs and the Grade 2 Lake George Stakes at Saratoga on July 24.

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In each start, she has closed from well off the pace to lead in the final furlong. In the Lake George, she closed seven lengths in the final quarter-mile to win by a half-length. The Grade 3 Regret Stakes was her only start at 1 1/8 miles.

“Her last three races have been very impressive,” Maker said. “I feel more comfortable with her at a mile and an eighth. “

Jockey Mike Smith rides Kitten’s Dumplings for the first time in the Del Mar Oaks. Kitten’s Dumplings will need runners such as Discreet Marq, the winner of the Grade 2 Sands Point Stakes at Belmont Park in May, and possibly Unusual Way, a three-time stakes winner, to ensure a quick pace that will help her late run.

Trainer Jeff Bonde said that Unusual Way is not certain to try for the lead. “They could be in for a surprise,” Bonde said.

The field includes two shippers from France – Pearlside and Ighraa, who were second and sixth, respectively, in the Group 3 Prix Chloe at 1 1/8 miles on turf at Chantilly on June 30. Pearlside, a stakes winner in Spain last October, was fifth in the Group 1 French Oaks on June 16. Ighraa won the minor Prix Finlande at Longchamp in April.

Need You Now was a stakes winner in England last year and won the Le Cle Stakes at a mile at Hollywood Park on July 7. Trained by Mike Mitchell, Need You Now starts in the longest race of her career in the Del Mar Oaks.

“There is a ton of speed,” Mitchell said. “I think she’ll like a mile and an eighth.”

Wishing Gate is the only filly in the field with a win over the course – a maiden race in August 2012 and the Grade 2 San Clemente Handicap at a mile on July 21.

[DEL MAR 2013: Complete meet coverage, schedule, race replays]

Trained by Tom Proctor, Wishing Gate drew the rail. While Proctor was delighted by her San Clemente win, he is not keen on the 27-day gap between races.

“I wish we had 10 more days in between,” Proctor said. “I have to say it surprised me the way she ran last time. She was impressive.”