07/12/2012 2:34PM

Hollywood Park: Lady of Shamrock ready to go long in American Oaks

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Silver Max will race farther than he has before when he starts in the American Derby.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Lady of Shamrock gave trainer John Sadler a small measure of consolation in the seconds after she had finished second by a nose in the Grade 2 Honeymoon Handicap at Betfair Hollywood Park on June 9.

Lady of Shamrock galloped out well clear of the field after a troubled trip, leaving Sadler immediately looking forward to Saturday’s $350,000 American Oaks.

“She just zoomed,” he said of the way she traveled after the wire.

The Honeymoon Handicap was run over 1 1/8 miles. The Grade 1 American Oaks is run over 1 1/4 miles, and will be the longest race in Lady of Shamrock’s accomplished career. She won three stakes during the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting, all for owner Kosta Hronis.

The added distance does not concern Sadler.

“My filly is doing great,” he said. “We took the blinkers off a few races ago and she settles nicely. I think she’s sharp.”

The competition does concern Sadler. The field of nine has drawn two entrants from England – the stakes winner Nayarra and the stakes-placed Miss Cato – and Colonial Flag, finished second in th Grade 3 Regret at Churchill Downs last month.

“Some years we’ve seen horses fly in and run huge races,” Sadler said.

The race is expected to have only eight starters. Regalo Mia, second in the Sands Point Stakes at Belmont Park on May 28, is unlikely to run because of an illness contracted during shipping, according to Hollywood Park racing officials.

Lady of Shamrock will be ridden by Mike Smith, who was aboard for her wins in the China Doll Stakes in May and the Grade 3 Providencia Stakes in April. Alonso Quinonez rode Lady of Shamrock in the Honeymoon because Smith rode the Belmont Stakes program that day. In the Honeymoon, Lady of Shamrock raced in traffic through the stretch and did not have a clear path until the final sixteenth.

“It was horrific,” Sadler said.

The American Oaks distance will not be a problem for the European fillies. Nayarra, the winner of the Group 1 Gran Criterium Stakes in Italy last October, was fourth in the Height of Fashion Stakes over 1 1/4 miles at Newmarket on May 24 and last of 12 in the Group1 Epsom Oaks on June 1. In that race over 1 1/2 miles, she led to the quarter pole before fading.

Trainer Mick Channon said that 1 1/2 miles was too far, and prefers the cut back in distance. “This should be perfect,” he said earlier this week. “She’s in great form.”

Miss Cato was second in the Lord Weinstock Memorial Stakes over 1 1/4 miles at Newbury on June 14, her stakes debut in her seventh start. She has won four races in her career.

Trainer Rae Guest said Miss Cato can be a threat from just off the pace.

“She wants to sit behind the pace and kick two [furlongs] out,” Guest said. “She’s very versatile.”

Aside from Lady of Shamrock, the domestic hopes are led by Best Present Ever, Colonial Flag, and My Gi Gi.

Best Present Ever won the Campanile Stakes at Golden Gate Fields on June 2 and is expected to lead.

Colonial Flag was beaten a length in the Regret Stakes over 1 1/8 miles on turf on June 16. The Regret was her stakes debut following turf wins at Keeneland and Belmont Park.

My Gi Gi won her first stakes in the Honeymoon. Trainer Peter Eurton said a stalking trip is vital to My Gi Gi’s chances of lasting over 1 1/4 miles.

“I’ve got my worries,” Eurton said of the distance. “If she gets the trip she did the other day, I won’t worry about the distance.”