04/05/2017 1:50PM

Majestic Quality gets to stay home for Santa Anita Oaks

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Majestic Quality is still a maiden but trainer Keith Desormeaux feels she fits in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks..

ARCADIA, Calif. – Majestic Quality was essentially packed and ready for a journey to Louisiana last week when word emerged that Unique Bella would miss Saturday’s Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks.

Quickly, Majestic Quality’s plans changed. A start in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks last weekend was canceled in favor of the $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks at 1 1/16 miles. Trainer Keith Desormeaux said the absence of Unique Bella because of sore shins “absolutely” led to the decision to keep Majestic Quality in California.

“She was nominated and confirmed on the plane for New Orleans,” Desormeaux said. “She was to leave that night. After the news broke, we made an audible.

“We get to stay home, and you don’t have the fatigue of flying. It’s a Grade 1 and not a Grade 2.”

The Santa Anita Oaks will be Majestic Quality’s first start in a Grade 1. It could be her first career win. Owned by a partnership that includes Big Chief Racing, Rocker O Ranch, and Desormeaux, Majestic Quality is winless in eight starts.

Majestic Quality ran in seven maiden races from August to February before finishing second to Farrell in the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra Stakes at 1 1/16 miles at Fair Grounds on Feb. 25 in her stakes debut. Farrell won the Fair Grounds Oaks last Saturday.

Desormeaux said he has no hesitation to run a maiden in a Grade 1 and plans to start the maiden Sonneteer in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park on April 15. Sonneteer was second in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn on March 18 in his graded-stakes debut.

“If they show top-end quality, I don’t see any issue,” he said.

Majestic Quality will be a threat from off the pace. By Quality Road, she was third in a maiden race at a mile here in December, losing by a length to Mopotism, who is part of the Santa Anita Oaks field.

The race is led by Abel Tasman, who won the Grade 1 Starlet Stakes at Los Alamitos in her stakes debut in December and was second to Unique Bella in her first start of 2017 in the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel Stakes on March 4.