08/17/2010 3:03PM

Irish fillies settle in with Gallagher for Oaks run


DEL MAR, Calif. – The Irish are coming! The Irish are coming! Two fillies from Ireland have arrived in Southern California for the Grade 1, $300,000 Del Mar Oaks on Saturday, and as luck would have it for trainer Paddy Gallagher, both are going to remain here with him after the race.

Berg Bahn and Distinctive finished first and fourth, respectively, in a Group 3 stakes race on June 30 at Fairyhouse in Ireland in their last starts. Berg Bahn got here last week, cleared quarantine, and has been training for several days out of Gallagher’s barn, hard by the 7 1/2-furlong pole. Distinctive arrived at Los Angeles International Airport on Monday, was in the process of doing her required quarantine at Hollywood Park on Tuesday, and was scheduled to be sent by van to Del Mar on Wednesday.

It’s a tall order for both fillies, as they will have to take on the likes of Evening Jewel, who won the San Clemente Handicap over this course last month, and Harmonious, who won the American Oaks at Hollywood Park on July 3. But the well-traveled Berg Bahn, who already has raced in Ireland, Dubai, and Great Britain in her six-race career, has made the trip well and should be ready for a top effort, according to Shane Lyons, the brother and assistant to Gerard Lyons, Berg Bahn’s current trainer.

“She likes quick ground,” Lyons said while putting a saddle on Berg Bahn in preparation for her training session on Tuesday morning. “She liked it in Dubai, and the climate here is kind of the same. The race Saturday fits well for her. There are more opportunities for this filly over here.”

Berg Bahn disappointed in a listed handicap at Royal Ascot in June, but rebounded two weeks later with the victory at Fairyhouse.

“She went into Royal Ascot needing the race,” Lyons said. “Then she went to Fairyhouse and beat a nice field. That was the deciding factor to come here. She’s traveled well. She took the trip well and has settled in well. She’s a very intelligent filly. She went to Dubai at the end of her 2-year-old year, and I think that benefited her. When she came here on the plane, she might as well have just gone an hour down the road. She never turned a hair.”

Berg Bahn is owned by the Anamoine Limited stable of Cristina Patino, who owns the top 3-year-old filly in Europe, Snow Fairy, the winner of the English and Irish Oaks. Berg Bahn will be ridden by Alex Solis, who is returning for the day from Saratoga, where he has been riding this summer.

“We’ve sent some horses over here to Paddy before and Alex has ridden them,” Lyons said. “He knows what we want. He’s a team player. Better the man you know than the man you don’t know.”

In addition to Berg Bahn, Distinctive (Brice Blanc the rider), Evening Jewel (Victor Espinoza), and Harmonious (Mike Smith), others expected for the Del Mar Oaks, run at 1 1/8 miles on turf, include Crisp (Rafael Bejarano), It Tiz (David Flores), and Perfect Shirl (Chantal Sutherland).

Small field for Rancho Bernardo

The Grade 3, $150,000 Rancho Bernardo Handicap on Sunday offers a guaranteed berth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, but it appears only a handful of older fillies and mares will run in the 6 1/2-furlong race.

The field includes Sweet August Moon, who scored an upset victory in the A Gleam Handicap at Hollywood Park on July 17, and Free Flying Soul, who finished second as the 4-5 favorite in that race.

Others expected for the A Gleam are Alpha Kitten and possibly Mother Ruth.

The supporting feature on Sunday is the $100,000 Solana Beach Handicap at one mile on turf for older California-bred females. Initial Impression, My Maloof Rocker, Ruffled Feathers, U R All That I Am, Ultra Blend, and You Lift Me Up are among those expected to run.

Bad start had happy ending

In most of her previous races, Missdealornodeal had been on or near the lead. But in her turf debut here on Aug. 4, she broke slowly. That proved serendipitous. Missdealornodeal rallied powerfully to win the five-furlong race, and will try to win her second straight on Thursday when she moves from a Cal-bred allowance to an open first-level allowance, the sixth race on the card.

“She broke a little slow, but it was almost to her advantage,” said Carla Gaines, who trains Missdealornodeal. “I’m a little worried about bringing her back in two weeks after a top performance, but I’m not sure there’s going to be a race like this in the last condition book.”

Contrasting talent levels for Polanco

Among those facing Missdealornodeal is Pink Diamond, who has lost two heartbreakers in similar turf sprints since being claimed for just $8,000 by trainer Marcelo Polanco.

“We can get lucky once in a while,” Polanco said. “She’s nice. A beautiful filly. I thought she had won both times. Good thing I didn’t go down there and make a fool of myself.”

Polanco does not appear to have as good a chance in the eighth race on Thursday, in which he will send out the maiden claimer Mandelieu, who might have the inglorious label of being the slowest horse on the grounds.

Mandelieu, 2, ran so slowly in his first three starts that he did not even get a Beyer Speed Figure. In his last start, he got a lifetime best Beyer fig, a 2. He has finished last in three of his four races, and beat one horse the other time.

“I had been training him for a two-furlong race at Santa Anita, and really thought he would win,” Polanco said. “The day we entered, he got a splint. I stopped on him, and after I stopped on him. . .”

Polanco made a sound like a pelican diving into the ocean.

“I’ve been very disappointed,” he said. “I don’t know. I’m clueless with him.”

Royal F J finally gets a win

After 10 losses, six as the favorite, Royal F J finally broke through with a victory against maidens in a one-mile grass race on Sunday, rewarding the loyal backers who, once again, made him the favorite.

“He’s got a lot of ability. He’s been a frustrating horse,” said his trainer, Jack Carava. “We had been running him every five or six weeks. This time, we brought him back kind of quick, just two weeks.

“He had been hard to manage. We changed the bridle on him to an Australian ring bit. It’s a little more severe. Joel Rosario said he really respected it. He wasn’t getting out. He wasn’t having to lean on his left rein. He had a lot more power steering.”