08/19/2009 12:00AM

Gallagher pair won't be overlooked in Oaks

Benoit & Associates
Starlarks (left) beats Strawberry Tart in the Grade 2 San Clemente Aug. 1.

DEL MAR, Calif. - Last year, Magical Fantasy was sent off at 43-1 when she pulled an upset in the Del Mar Oaks for trainer Paddy Gallagher. This year, backers of two fillies trained by Gallagher - Lexlenos and Starlarks - will have to settle for shorter prices.

Starlarks won her first stakes in an 11-1 upset in the Grade 2 San Clemente Handicap over a mile on the grass here on Aug. 1. Lexlenos was third at 63-1 in the American Oaks at Hollywood Park on July 5, but will be a fraction of those odds in Saturday's $350,000 Del Mar Oaks, which is run over 1 1/8 miles on turf.

"We've been waiting on this race," Gallagher said.

Lexlenos and Starlarks are closers, but only Lexlenos has experience at the Grade 1 level. She was sixth in the Grade 3 Senorita Stakes on May 3, third to Del Mar Oaks favorite Well Monied in the Grade 2 Honeymoon Handicap on May 31, and was beaten 3 3/4 lengths by Gozzip Girl in the American Oaks over 1 1/4 miles on turf.

"That's what she wants to do," Gallagher said of her style. "I thought the other day she got bumped a little leaving the gate. She deserves a chance."

The Del Mar Oaks has drawn a field of 10, led by Well Monied, who was second in the American Oaks, and Strawberry Tart, the winner of the Flawlessly Stakes at Hollywood Park in July who was second in the San Clemente.

Gallagher waited until Starlarks worked five furlongs on turf in 1:03.20 before deciding to enter her.

"Because she's not a big filly, I wanted to do one work," Gallagher said. "She seemed happy enough out there on the track."

Debutante next for It Tiz

It Tiz, a striking daughter of Tiznow, ran to her looks when she defeated 2-year-old maiden fillies in her debut going 6 1/2 furlongs last Sunday, and now will head straight into the Grade 1, $300,000 Darley Debutante at seven furlongs on Sept. 5, according to her trainer, Mark Glatt.

"I think she'll appreciate more ground," Glatt said. "I wouldn't want to shorten her up, and if I ran her back in an allowance race, more than likely she'd have to shorten up.

"She's acted like a decent filly all along. She's got a lot of class. Nothing bothers her."

It Tiz was purchased as a yearling for $170,000.

"She's just beautiful," Glatt said. "She grew up to be just the right size. The best thing about her is that she never gets her nose out of joint. There was a concert in the infield Saturday night, and she slept right through it."

Tiago to return on the turf

In the summers of 2007 and 2008, Tiago trained so poorly on the Polytrack surface at Del Mar that trainer John Shirreffs didn't even bother running him in the Pacific Classic. Lesson learned. This summer, Tiago has worked exclusively on turf, and will return from a lengthy layoff in the $85,000 Harry Brubaker Stakes on the grass next Wednesday.

"I couldn't work him on the main track," Shirreffs said. "He can't stand up on this track."

After that, though, it's back to the main track at Santa Anita. Shirreffs hopes to point Tiago to the Breeders' Cup Classic on Nov. 7 during the Oak Tree meeting. Tiago finished third in the Classic last year, behind Raven's Pass and Henrythenavigator and in front of Curlin.

"I'm hoping to make the Classic," Shirreffs said. "He's doing fine now. He had an intestinal problem earlier in the year. It wasn't quite colic, but he had to go to the clinic for a couple of weeks. No surgery. We managed it with different medicines."

Cashing in on a claim

The $40,000 that owner Sam Britt paid to claim Pierre Bear in June is looking like a good purchase. It may look great by late afternoon on Friday.

After winning a $100,000 claiming race for maidens here on July 24, Pierre Bear is part of a field of six 2-year-olds in an optional claimer over six furlongs on Friday.

Pierre Bear was beaten a nose in his debut, the day trainer Jeff Mullins placed the claim.

"I'd heard a few things about the horse," Mullins said. "When I saw him in the paddock, I dropped [a claim] on him."

On July 24, Pierre Bear led throughout to win by a neck at 5 1/2 furlongs under jockey Tyler Baze, who has the mount on Friday.

"He's trained forward," Mullins said. "Tyler said he's dong well with every work. I guess we'll find out what he's made of."

Pierre Bear has drawn the outside post. He must beat Court Mischief, the winner of a maiden special weight race at the Solano County Fair on July 23, and the unbeaten Gallant Gent, who has won two races for claimers.

Several options for Ashley's Kitty

Del Mar certainly agrees with Ashley's Kitty, who won a high-level optional-claiming race on Sunday, her second win in as many starts at this track.

Ted West, who trains Ashley's Kitty with his son, Ted H. West, said the Grade 3, $200,000 Rancho Bernardo Handicap on Sept. 4 is on the radar for Ashley's Kitty, but said owner Chris Coleman is also contemplating races at Monmouth Park and Presque Isle.

"He's going to look and try to pick out the easiest spot," West said. "We know she really likes this racetrack. She's 2 for 2 here."

The Wests also campaign Talkin to Mom Roo, who finished second to Zensational in the Bing Crosby and will seek a rematch in the Grade 1, $300,000 Pat O'Brien Stakes on Sept. 6.

"He had some health issues we didn't get a handle on until the last three months," West said. "He has a pretty poor immune system. We found out how to treat it. He should be a better horse in the future because of it. He's a big, robust-looking guy, but he's actually kind of delicate. He's deceiving. He looks like he'd run through a brick wall, but he's not that kind of horse."

Cal Cup next for Dancing in Silks

Dancing in Silks, who returned from a 6 1/2-month layoff to win a second-level allowance sprint in his turf debut last week, will await the California Cup Sprint on Oct. 3 at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting, trainer Carla Gaines said.

"He likes his races fairly spaced," Gaines said.

Dancing in Silks beat stablemate Details R Sketchy, who finished second after encountering severe traffic trouble on the turn. It was his first start since October.

"He ran big, didn't he?" Gaines said. "Both horses handle both surfaces. That gives us a lot more options. They both pulled up not really winded for coming off long layoffs."

- additional reporting by Jay Privman