09/30/2010 12:28PM

Heat up front would be cool for Seeking the Title in Indiana Oaks

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Barbara D. Livingston
Ash Zee wires an allowance field at Saratoga in September.

ANDERSON, Ind. – Speed cancels out speed . . . doesn’t it? Not always, of course, although trainer Dallas Stewart is hoping a potential duel between Always a Princess and Ash Zee could help his filly, Seeking the Title, rally to victory Saturday in the Grade 2, $200,000 Indiana Oaks at Hoosier Park.

“I think the race could set up for us,” Stewart said this week from his Churchill Downs barn, “although sometimes speed is a little better than normal at Hoosier. We’ll keep those fillies in our sights, try to stay out of trouble, and hopefully get a big run from the quarter pole to the wire.”

Seeking the Title, with Robby Albarado to ride, was assigned post 1 in the 15th Indiana Oaks, a 1 1/16-mile race that drew seven 3-year-old fillies. Bred and owned by Charles Fipke, Seeking the Title comes off a rallying runner-up finish in the Monmouth Oaks.

Always a Princess, with Martin Garcia riding for Bob Baffert, could come favored Saturday after returning from a 10-month layoff with a sharp recent sprint win at Del Mar. She got post 6, while the other likely speed in the race, Ash Zee, starts from post 7.

Always a Princess is “a very fast filly, so she’ll be out there,” said Baffert. “I really like the way she came back at Del Mar. She’d been off a long time. This is a good spot for her to go two turns.

Baffert noted that Always a Princess led past the eighth pole in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies last year, “so she ought to be able to handle this.”

Always a Princess arrived Wednesday afternoon at Hoosier after accompanying stablemate Lookin At Lucky on a flight from California.

Ash Zee, with Shaun Bridgmohan up for Steve Asmussen, has won 3 of 5 starts, having most recently gone gate-to-wire to capture a second-level allowance sprint to end her Saratoga meet.

Fuzzy Britches, Harissa, W W American, and Shakaleena round out the cast.

The Indiana Oaks is carded as the 11th of 14 races and directly precedes the Indiana Derby. In earlier supporting events:

◗ Michael G. Schaefer Mile (race 10): Demarcation, who went over the half-million-dollar earnings mark with an impressive triumph in the West Virginia Governor’s last out, heads a solid field of 10 older horses. Francisco Torres will ride from post 3 for trainer Paul McGee.

Other considerations include Omniscient, a two-back winner of the Majestic Light at Monmouth for Asmussen, and Racing Bran, runner-up in the Grade 2 Cornhusker before more recently finishing fifth as the favorite in the Claiming Crown Jewel.

The Schaefer honors the first person ever named to the Indiana Horse Racing Commission.

◗ $84,000 Hoosier Breeders’ Sophomore (colt-gelding division, race 9): There is no clear-cut favorite in this field of 10, although the rail-drawn Motown Boy is sure to take a fair amount of play following a gutsy stakes win.

◗ $84,000 Hoosier Breeders’ Sophomore (filly division, race 8): Serena’s Reward, a four-time winner from seven starts, should be the filly to catch, with the Richard Kohnhorst entry of Offlee Swift and Ms. Cat Princess looking like the main threats.

◗ $ 84,000 Indiana Futurity (race 6): The Churchill filly What About Ruby could be a big favorite taking on the boys – although she’s cross-entered in the Miss Indiana. Otherwise, Bellamy Jones and possibly a maiden, Storm of Atlantis, rate highly here.

◗ $84,000 Miss Indiana (race 4): If trainer Merrill Scherer keeps What About Ruby in here with her own gender, then sure, she’s an obvious contender, although Beyer-wise, Perfectly Candid and Dreamin Big appear faster than any of the boys in the Futurity.