08/14/2013 4:09PM

Del Mar: Oscar Party looks good to go in Sandy Blue

Barbara D. Livingston
Oscar Party has won 2 of 7 starts and $103,777.

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DEL MAR, Calif. – Oscar Party, purchased for $510,000 by Deron Pearson at the Del Mar Paddock Sale on July 22, starts from the rail in Friday’s $90,000 Sandy Blue Handicap at Del Mar.

It is a race that she is overqualified to win.

Oscar Party was third in the Grade 3 Regret Stakes at Churchill Downs on June 15 in her final start before being purchased last month. After topping the Paddock Sale, Pearson and trainer Jim Cassidy mentioned Saturday’s $300,000 Del Mar Oaks as a possibility, but have opted for the less valuable Sandy Blue Handicap.

“I didn’t want to overdo it with her,” Cassidy said. “You could expect the Sandy Blue to come up easier than the Oaks.”

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Cassidy said he was encouraged by Oscar Party’s five-furlong workout on turf in 1:01 on Aug. 8. He considers the Sandy Blue Handicap, run over a mile on turf, as a prep for the $175,000 Pucker Up Stakes at Arlington Park on Sept. 17 and the $400,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland on Oct. 12.

“I’m looking at the long range,” he said. “We’re more conservative than a lot of people.”

Oscar Party, who has won 2 of 7 starts and $103,777, was previously trained by Wayne Catalano. She is part of a field of 12 in the Sandy Blue, which will have a safety limit of 10 starters.

Oscar Party will be ridden by Mike Smith. The Sandy Blue will be her first start at a mile since she finished last of 14 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita last November. Cassidy said he is confident that Oscar Party can be competitive in the Sandy Blue.

“I don’t know if she can win, but I expect her to run well,” he said.

Saturday’s Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks drew a field of 11, but three of the fillies are entered for the Sandy Blue – Charlie Em, Ighraa, and Sarach.

Ighraa is on the also-eligible list, needing one defection from the Oaks to ensure a starting spot. Ighraa is one of two French imports for the Del Mar Oaks, joined by Pearlside, who joined trainer Darrell Vienna’s stable earlier this summer.

Pearlside was a stakes winner in Spain in 2012. She was fifth in the Group 1 French Oaks on June 16 before finishing second in the Group 3 Prix Chloe on June 30. Ighraa was sixth in the Prix Chloe.