03/04/2008 12:00AM

Golden Doc A continues her climb


ARCADIA, Calif. - There seems to be little quit in Golden Doc A, who will be favored in Saturday's Grade 1, $300,000 Santa Anita Oaks.

Last October at 2, after Golden Doc A won her first stakes in the Anoakia Stakes at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting, trainer Barry Abrams said she deserved a break to prepare for a 2008 campaign.

It was a good idea, until he ran it by Golden Doc A.

"I gave her three days off, and on the fourth day, she was screaming and yelling and flipped in the stall," Abrams recalled last weekend. "I thought, how am I going to give time off to a horse that feels this good?"

Three weeks later, Golden Doc A was back on the track. Golden Doc A has finished in the first three in 4 of 5 starts since the stunted vacation and has emerged as a Grade 1 winner and a 3-year-old filly to watch on the national scene.

Golden Doc A nearly upset champion 2-year-old filly Indian Blessing in the Grade 2 Santa Ynez Stakes over seven furlongs on Jan. 13, losing by a head after making up eight lengths in the final three furlongs. Golden Doc A returned Feb. 9 to win the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes. For Abrams, who turned 54 on Monday, it was his first win in a Grade 1 since Famous Digger in the Del Mar Oaks in 1997.

The Las Virgenes has defined Golden Doc A's career, enhanced her value, and left Abrams and owner Ron McCauley wondering how much more she can accomplish.

Along the way, Golden Doc A has won 3 of 10 starts and $345,356. Her runner-up finish in the Santa Ynez caught the attention of McCauley, a car dealer from Lexington, Ky., who acquired her privately before the Las Virgenes from Abrams, his brother David, and Madeline Auerbach.

Golden Doc A's success this year has been a delightful surprise to Abrams. At 2, she also won the Generous Portion Stakes for statebred 2-year-old fillies at Del Mar. The leap in class to the Grade 1 level was more than Abrams could have expected.

"I knew she was a nice horse, but a nice horse to a Grade 1 winner is a big difference," he said.

To an extent, Golden Doc A has benefited from circumstances involving other leading fillies. Indian Blessing passed the Las Virgenes in favor of the Silverbulletday Stakes at Fair Grounds last month, a race she won. This Saturday, Indian Blessing will start as a heavy favorite in the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks in Louisiana.

Golden Doc A has not faced Country Star, the winner of two Grade 1 stakes last year - the Alcibiades Stakes and Hollywood Starlet. Trained by Bobby Frankel, Country Star is being pointed for the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland next month. She is ranked among the leading 3-year-old filly prospects in the nation.

Abrams defends Golden Doc A, citing her head loss to Indian Blessing at even weights of 123 pounds in the Santa Anita as proof of her ability.

"She had no business being that close to Indian Blessing," he said. "It was a speed-favoring track and she came from off the pace. After that race, I thought she was a Grade 1 horse. Indian Blessing took an easier route and is a good horse. You can't knock her, but our horse came closer to anyone of beating her."

By the California stallion Unusual Heat, Golden Doc A is the lone Grade 1 winner in the Santa Anita Oaks, which is run over 1 1/16 miles. The list of probable starters also includes Final Fling, the winner of the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel Stakes here Jan. 13 in her stakes debut.

If Golden Doc A runs well in the Santa Anita Oaks, she could be facing fillies such as Indian Blessing and Country Star in major stakes in coming months, such as the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 2. Abrams is reluctant to make any plans.

"It's such a long year, and the Kentucky Oaks is one race," he said.

The way Golden Doc A behaves, it is hard to see her staying in the barn.