08/12/2010 2:34PM

Distance a question in Washington Oaks


AUBURN, Wash. – Ready or not, a diverse cast of 3-year-old fillies will try to negotiate nine furlongs for the first time Saturday in the $75,000 Washington Oaks at Emerald Downs.

With no clear leader in the class, Emerald’s traditional championship for sophomore fillies attracted 11 entries, including two prominent contenders from Hastings in Vancouver, British Columbia. None of the 11 has raced farther than 1 1/16 miles, and three of them have never competed beyond 6 1/2 furlongs. Imponderables abound, and the betting figures to spread out among several top contenders.

Sis’s Sis and Rewritten, stakes winners at Emerald this season, will be well backed, as will the Hastings shippers, Otero and Dearest Princess. My Untamed Heart, unbeaten in two starts in the claiming ranks, is an intriguing longshot, and Zenovit, a close third in the one-mile Irish Day Handicap in early June, also has a legitimate chance to take home the $41,250 winner’s share.

Sis’s Sis has won three of four starts in 2010, including a half-length victory in the Irish Day Handicap on a sloppy track. But she was beaten as the 3-2 favorite in the 1 1/16-mile Washington’s Lottery Handicap in her last start July 11, yielding to the fast-closing Rewritten in the final furlong. Sis’s Sis stalked a fast front-runner that day, and a more relaxed pace in the Oaks could work to her advantage. She tuned up with a brilliant five-furlong workout last Saturday and could be sitting on her best effort to date. Regular rider Juan Gutierrez will be aboard for trainer Jim Penney.

Rewritten was a maiden less than two months ago, winless in her first seven starts. But the light went on when she dominated a maiden race June 20, and she followed with an $18.40 upset in the Washington’s Lottery Handicap. Her dam, Pleas Write, won stakes around two turns, and Rewritten, by El Corredor, looks to have a bright future as a stakes-caliber router. Francisco Duran will ride for trainer Frank Lucarelli.

Otero and Dearest Princess have taken turns beating each other at Hastings, finishing less than a length apart in three consecutive starts before being separated. Dearest Princess won a restricted stakes for 3-year-old fillies in her last start 12 days ago; Otero finished third against older horses July 17 in the Strawberry Morn Handicap. Otero, trained by two-time Oaks winner Dave Forster, worked five furlongs last Thursday in 58.40 seconds, a phenomenal effort on the Hastings bullring.