11/18/2011 3:17PM

Hollywood: Maidens could steal show from stakes runners

Shigeki Kikkawa
Woebegon earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 84 in her debut victory.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Enhancements to the juvenile filly division in California will not necessarily emerge from the $100,000 Moccasin Stakes on Sunday at Hollywood Park.

Five allowance fillies with hazy credentials, including speedster Woebegon, race seven furlongs in the Moccasin, race 3. It is a nice little field, with a nice big purse. One could argue, however, the best fillies running Sunday at Hollywood are the maidens in race 1.

Promising second-time starters Vionnet and Princess Ash meet highly regarded first-time starter Rowdy Gal in a six-furlong race that threatens to upstage the Moccasin. And handicappers who evaluate replay video might reach the same conclusion as Mike Puype, trainer of Vionnet. “I think she’s a stakes filly,” he said.

Vionnet was favored in her Oct. 23 debut at Santa Anita, but a rival got antsy in the gate, Vionnet was distracted, and she missed the break. She gradually worked her way forward, but when it was clear to jockey David Flores she had no chance, he allowed her to coast home. She finished fourth by four; Puype believes she was best.

“She lost more than four lengths at the start,” he said. “I feel bad for [Flores], because he did nothing wrong.” However, the mount on Vionnet was Garrett Gomez’s all along. He did not ride first out because of commitments at Keeneland, but regains the mount Sunday.

Vionnet is by Street Sense, out of multiple turf-sprint stakes winner Cambiocorsa. “She’s got route on the stallion’s side, and sprint on the mare’s side,” Puype said. “I’ll have to try her on grass.”

Princess Ash set a fast pace in the same race and was collared late, missing by a neck. Bob Baffert trains Princess Ash, an Indian Charlie front-runner who could be gone second time out. First-time starter Rowdy Gal debuts with a solid work pattern for John Sadler, who suggested that this daughter of Pure Prize is very well regarded.

Two races later Sunday, Sadler-trained Eva’s Joy starts as a top contender in the seven-furlong Moccasin. Eva’s Joy won her Oct. 6 debut at Calder, after which she was purchased by owners Gary and Cecil Barber and turned over to Sadler.

“We bought her with the idea she could run on turf or synthetic, because [Kitten’s Joy offspring] are good on both,” Sadler said. First start in California, Eva’s Joy finished third in the Golden Gate Debutante. “She really woke up after we ran her the one time,” Sadler said. Eva’s Joy will be making her third start Sunday.

Woebegon, meanwhile, is trying to resurrect a career that began five months ago with an outstanding 3 1/4-length maiden win and a Beyer Speed Figure of 84. Two starts since for trainer Peter Miller were disappointing. She finished fourth as the even-money favorite in the Landaluce, and then bombed in the Del Mar Debutante.

“She didn’t really like that racetrack, and I thought we would try to rate her,” Miller said. The tactics did not work. Sunday, Woebegon returns to the track on which she ran her best race. And there will be nothing cute about the strategy.

“She’s training much better than she did at Del Mar, and I think we’re just going to let her run,” Miller said. “She’s got speed, and she wants to be on the lead, so we’ll let her do what she wants to do.”

Joe Talamo, who has been working Woebegon, rides for the first time. If she reproduces her debut, she could wire the field. Lady Hokulea, a debut winner at Emerald Downs, makes her first start for Bob Baffert. Made to Love Her and Evelyn’s Dancer also entered.