08/08/2013 1:32PM

Monmouth Park: Makayla's Angel seeks first stakes win in Monmouth Oaks


OCEANPORT, N.J. – After a frustrating start of her career, Makayla’s Angel is starting to justify trainer Graham Motion’s faith in her ability. She can complete that job Saturday in the Grade 3, $100,000 Monmouth Oaks for 3-year-old fillies.

Makayla’s Angel, a winner of two of her last three races, faces seven rivals in the 1 1/16-mile race.

“She’s a filly I’ve always thought a lot of,” Motion said. “I was surprised, frankly, that it took her so long to come around. The first couple of races were quite disappointing.”

Her debut was a 20-length defeat at Gulfstream Park in March. She cut that deficit in half the next time out, running third at Pimlico, before consecutive wins at Delaware Park. Makayla’s Angel then made her stakes debut in the Grade 2 Delaware Oaks last month, finishing fourth with Matt Rispoli aboard.

“I thought she ran very respectably in the Delaware Oaks,” Motion said. “It gave me the confidence to take the shot and run in this race.”

She was not as forwardly placed in the Delaware Oaks as in her two victories.

“It was a little awkward running into the turn, and I think Matt probably had to take her back a little more than we planned on,” Motion said.

Despite a less-than-ideal trip, Makayla’s Angel ran steadily through the lane to maintain her position.

The set-up could be more favorable in the Monmouth Oaks. The competition should be a touch softer on the drop from a Grade 2 to a Grade 3 race, and establishing prominent early position should not be an issue from post 4, since there is no blazing speed to her inside.

Kendrick Carmouche rides Makayla’s Angel for the first time.

Seaneen Girl is the most experienced filly in the field. This will be her 13th start, and it gives her a chance to rebound from a disappointing sixth over the synthetic Polytrack surface at Arlington in the Arlington Park Oaks as the 3-1 third choice.

The return to dirt should be a positive, as most of her best efforts have come on that surface, including rallies to hit the board in the Fair Grounds Oaks and the Iowa Oaks. A chestnut filly trained by Kentucky-based Bernie Flint, Seaneen Girl is the only graded stakes winner in the field, having won the Grade 2 Golden Rod Stakes at Churchill Downs in November.

C C Gold, Lucky Rag Doll, Zenzara, Mr Hall’s Opus, Mary Bernice, and Alli Leigh complete the field.