09/01/2012 2:33PM

Del Mar: Wishing Gate has two-turn edge in Oak Tree Juvenile Fillies Turf


DEL MAR, Calif. – Already a winner in a one-mile turf race at Del Mar, Wishing Gate is well placed to win her first stakes in Monday’s $100,000 Oak Tree Juvenile Fillies Turf on the same surface and distance.

Trained by Tom Proctor for Glen Hill Farm, Wishing Gate is the only filly in the field with a win around two turns.

“I think that’s always an advantage,” said Aimee Dollase, Proctor’s assistant. “She liked it, and she’s won it. She should be tough.”

The Oak Tree Juvenile Fillies Turf is being run for the first time this year, part of a closer relationship between Del Mar and the Oak Tree Racing Association. Oak Tree formerly operated autumn meetings at Santa Anita.

The Oak Tree Juvenile Fillies Turf is one of three stakes on Monday’s 11-race card. Aside from the $250,000 Yellow Ribbon Stakes, a race formerly known as the Palomar Handicap and now renamed after a former Oak Tree race, the program includes the $150,000 I’m Smokin Stakes for California-bred 2-year-olds.

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Wishing Gate has made three starts. By Indian Charlie, she was fourth in a maiden race over five furlongs at Arlington Park on July 4. Her turf win came in a maiden race Aug. 8. She was seventh in a field of nine on the backstretch and closed well to win by a half-length.

The second- through fourth-place finishers in that race – Jerry’shoneycarol, Dance Team, and Shrilanka – and sixth-place finisher Renee’s Queen are part of the Oak Tree Juvenile Fillies Turf field. They are among five maidens entered. The race drew 12 entrants, but will be limited to 10 starters.

There are two stakes-placed fillies in the field – Somethingabouther and Speedinthruthecity. Somethingabouther was second in the Tippett Stakes on turf at Colonial Downs on July 21.

Speedinthruthecity was second in the Landaluce Stakes and Grade 3 Sorrento Stakes earlier this summer. She was recently bought by Ron Winchell, according to trainer Peter Miller.

Speedinthruthecity won her debut in a five-furlong turf race at Betfair Hollywood Park on June 21.

“I think that’s an advantage, having that experience on the grass,” Miller said.

Strong Wind goes for stakes double

Strong Wind, winner of the Graduation Stakes on Aug. 1, faces a tough field in the I’m Smokin Stakes, Monday’s fourth race.

Trained by Steve Knapp, Strong Wind is likely to race near the front in the six-furlong race. Since the Graduation, Strong Wind has had one workout, a half-mile in 50.20 seconds Aug. 15. He has trained steadily in recent weeks, Knapp said.

“He’s galloping two miles every day,” Knapp said. “He seems to be improving every day. He acts like he’ll run long. I think our horse has a nice chance to win on Monday.”

The race drew only six runners, including one maiden in The Humancomplaint, who is trained by Ben Cecil. Four of the six colts and geldings in the race are by Tribal Rule.

Native Treasure, purchased for just $2,200 as a weanling at the 2010 Barretts October sale, placed in two stakes in Northern California earlier this summer, including the Lost in the Fog Stakes at Golden Gate Fields.

Trainer John Sadler starts Ballard Ruler, winner of a maiden race over five furlongs by 2 3/4 lengths on the July 18 opening-day program. Bred by owner Herman Sarkowsky, Ballard Ruler is likely to race from just off the pace.

Sadler said he skipped the Graduation Stakes to focus on the I’m Smokin Stakes with Ballard Ruler.

“The question was do you try to run three times” at Del Mar, he said. “I think two is enough. I’ve trained him pretty forwardly.”