11/13/2012 1:01PM

Hollywood: Callaghan saddles another good-looking import in Qaraaba


INGLEWOOD, Calif. – The filly-mare turf division in California was bolstered recently by an outstanding U.S. debut from Rhythm of Light, emphatic winner of the Grade 2 Goldikova Stakes on Nov. 4 at Santa Anita.

Now trained by Simon Callaghan, Rhythm of Light will take a break and return in March in the Grade 2 Santa Ana Handicap at Santa Anita.

Meanwhile, Callaghan will unveil another well-regarded female turf import Thursday at Betfair Hollywood Park. Qaraaba makes her U.S. debut in race 7, a second-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles on turf.

“We’ve had her about three months,” Callaghan said. “She trains like a really nice filly.

“We’ve been very pleased with her works.”

Though she won 5 of 13 in England, Qaraaba remains eligible to the second-level allowance because in three wins she earned less than $10,000, which is the cutoff for allowance conditions in California.

Qaraaba was purchased privately in England by Alice Bamford and Michael Tabor with the idea of shipping her to California where Callaghan believes she has the potential to develop into a graded-stakes-caliber mare.

“Her Racing Post numbers are similar to Belle Royale,” Callaghan said, referring to the filly that won both her U.S. starts, including the Grade 1 Gamely early this year, before her career ended with a tendon injury.

Qaraaba this year has won 3 of 6, and her only subpar effort was her most recent start July 14 over a heavy surface that Callaghan said compromised her ability. While he believes Qaraaba eventually will be suited to longer distances, he expects a good effort Thursday at 1 1/16 miles.

Julien Leparoux worked Qaraaba, and gains the mount.

“He looks to be a perfect rider for her,” Callaghan said. “She’s a come-from-behind filly, relax and finish.”

According to Callaghan, Qaraaba will race Thursday with Lasix, though that designation was not on the overnight. The 5-year-old sired by Shamardal figures to start as a deserving favorite in the $52,000 allowance.

Main rivals for Qaraaba include I Dazzle, Left a Message, and Silver Hustler. Jack Van Berg trains I Dazzle, a respectable fourth last out in a Grade 2 and recent runner-up in a second-level allowance.

Left a Message drops from a series of stakes for the productive trainer-jockey combination of Tom Proctor and Garrett Gomez. Silver Hustler won 2 of 7 in the Midwest, and makes her California debut for trainer Eric Kruljac.

Ultimately, the Thursday feature hinges on the performance of Qaraaba.

“It’s a nice starting point,” Callaghan said.

Thursday also is a nice starting point for St. Malo’s Gate. The first-time starter makes her career debut for trainer Carla Gaines and owner Warren Williamson in race 5, a turf route for California-bred fillies and mares. St. Malo’s Gate is a 3-year-old half-sister to Nashoba’s Key, a multiple Grade 1 winner who won 8 of 10 for Gaines and Williamson.

St. Malo’s Gate is a California-bred with an international pedigree. She was sired by Dynaformer and produced by the French mare Nashoba.

Rafael Bejarano rides St. Malo’s Gate, whose workout pattern suggests she is ready to roll.

Her rivals include lightly raced 5-year-old Letthepartybegin and Spring Bloom.