01/01/2011 7:25PM

Lilacs and Lace turns the tables on Cathy's Crunches in California Oaks


ALBANY, Calif. – Lilacs and Lace surged past odds-on favorite Cathy’s Crunches in the lane to score a decisive victory in the $92,000 California Oaks at Golden Gate Fields on Saturday.

A daughter of Flower Alley, Lilacs and Lace ($6.80) had finished second to Cathy’s Crunches in the one-mile Corte Madera on Dec. 4 when she pressed the pace.

Cathy’s Crunches, a pace factor in two sprint stakes, had rallied from off the pace in the Corte Madera, but she broke alertly and went to the lead immediately in the Oaks. She relaxed nicely, setting slow fractions of 25.35 seconds, 50.89, and 1:15.81 in the 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies.

Trainer Duane Offield said Lilacs and Lace would appreciate longer distances, and she certainly seemed to like Saturday’s additional distance.
Offield took her blinkers off in hopes she would save a bit early, and she sat comfortably behind Cathy’s Crunches’s slow fractions in second all the way around the track.

Cathy’s Crunches appeared to have plenty left through the first half of the stretch.

But under strong urging by Russell Baze, Lilacs and Lace seemed to find a new gear in midstretch and burst past Cathy’s Crunches, pulling clear to win by  1 1/2 lengths in 1:46.32.

“I thought she was a talented filly, but, apparently, she’s more talented than I thought,” said Baze. “The way the leader was cruising, I didn’t think there was any way we could run her down. She ran great because the winner finished strong.”

Chad Schvaneveldt, the rider of Cathy’s Crunches, said, “I had everything my own way, and she laid her body down when I asked her in the stretch. I couldn’t believe the other filly ran us down, and she went by us pretty easy.”

Sister Glady Oh La finished third after the fourth runner in the field, Game to Run, sustained a condylar fracture of her right front cannon bone and had to euthanized. Cathy’s Crunches’ stablemate Seismic Speed was scratched.

Lilacs and Lace’s second career victory was worth $60,000 to owner-breeders Judy Hicks and Kathryn Nikkel. She has earned $95,550 with 2 wins and 2 seconds in 6 starts.

The victory qualifies her for the Black-Eyed Susan $2.2 million bonus at Pimlico if she can also win the Santa Anita Oaks, Gulfstream Park Oaks, and Black-Eyed Susan.

“The bonus is an incentive,” said Offield, mentioning the Santa Anita Oaks as a next-race possibility. “We might try that and see what happens. There’s not going to be anything up here for her.”