10/05/2011 10:53AM

Fresno: Harvest perfect prep for California Nectar

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Benoit & Associates
California Nectar runs in the $50,000 Harvest on Friday at Fresno, then goes in the California Cup Distaff on Oct. 29 at Santa Anita.

In real estate, they say, the most important factors are location, location, location. In horse racing, it’s timing, timing, timing.

For Southern California-based trainer Doug O’Neill, the timing of the race is the reason he’s sending his graded-stakes-winning 3-year-old filly California Nectar to the Big Fresno Fair to meet older in Friday’s $50,000-added Harvest Handicap at six furlongs on dirt. California Nectar is being pointed to the $125,000 California Cup Distaff at 6 1/2 furlongs down the hillside turf course at Santa Anita on Oct. 29, and O’Neill said the Harvest is a prep for that race.

Owned and bred by Pablo Suarez, California Nectar has won on both turf and dirt, including a victory in the Grade 2 Santa Ynez in January over the Santa Anita dirt. In August, she won her lone turf sprint in wire-to-wire style in an optional claimer at Del Mar. That was her first start against older and it came in her first start back from a layoff of nearly five months. She beat 3-year-old fillies in the Beverly J. Lewis on the dirt at Fairplex on Sept. 9, her last start.

“She’s got a lot of quality about her,” said O’Neill. “She likes dirt and is coming into this race good.”

Four of California Nectar’s six Harvest rivals are stakes winners.

Point of Reference has won the last three times she raced at the Harvest distance of six furlongs, including the California State Fair Sprint in her last start July 16. Her off-the-pace style could work well in this speed-laden field. She was last early in the State Fair Sprint before unleashing a strong rally and getting up to win by a neck.

Joe Ja, third behind California Nectar after opening early in the Beverly J. Lewis, won the six-furlong Goldfinch at Prairie Meadows in April.

Summers Peace, coming off a one-mile allowance win on the turf at Golden Gate Fields, won the 6 1/2-furlong Washington State Legislators at Emerald Downs in June. Trainer Chuck Jenda says he’s contemplating scratching Summers Peace because the race came up with so much speed.

“This race came up tougher than I expected,” said Jenda.

Izzy Rules won the Juan Gonzalez at Pleasanton as a 2-year-old and was second after setting the pace last month at Fairplex in her 4-year-old debut.

Jaws n’ Paws and Alaska Miss round out the field.