09/24/2007 11:00PM

Norfolk important BC Juvenile prep

EmailLAS VEGAS – The Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita has had a huge impact on the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in recent years.

In 1999, Dixie Union won the Norfolk and headed to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Gulfstream Park as one of the leading contenders, along with Norfolk runner-up Forest Camp. In the BC Juvenile, Dixie Union, five or six wide much of the race, finished fifth at 4-1, while Forest Camp, the 5-2 favorite, tired to finish sixth.

The late-blooming and lightly raced Anees, who ran third in the Norfolk in his final BC Juvenile prep, rallied from last in the 14-horse Juvenile field to win going away by 2o1/2 lengths at 30-1.

Kafwain won the Norfolk in 2002 and was dismissed at 19-1 when he rallied to finish second in the Juvenile to the undefeated Vindication.

In 2003, Ruler's Court was a dominating winner of the Norfolk but bypassed the Juvenile even though it was run at his home base of Santa Anita. Action This Day (26-1), another late-maturing colt, took advantage of the early speed of Chapel Royal, Cuvee, and Mambo Train to unleash a powerful rally, and led a one-two finish in the Juvenile for trainer Richard Mandella with runner-up Minister Eric.

For this year's Norfolk, which will be run on Sunday, Mandella has Dixie Chatter, who won a maiden race at Del Mar in his second start. Dixie Chatter is a product of mating two Herman Sarkowsky families that Mandella knows well. Mandella trained Dixie Chatter's sire, Dixie Union, who not only won the Norfolk but also captured the Best Pal and Hollywood Juvenile Championship Stakes at 2, and won the Haskell and Malibu Stakes at 3. Dixie Chatter's dam, Mini Chat (Deputy Minister), was unraced, but his second dam, Phone Chatter, won the 1993 BC Juvenile Fillies for Sarkowsky and Mandella over a stellar field that included Sardula, Heavenly Prize, and Coup de Genie.

Norfolk contender Shore Do is a colt with tremendous upside. By the underrated sire Include, he is bred to get better with maturity and distance, and runners by Include are winning impressively on dirt and turf. Shore Do is out of a Dynaformer mare, so he gets a dose of turf breeding top and bottom. His E. P. Taylor female family runs deep as well. Shore Do's fourth dam, Victory Chant, produced Canadian champion Giboulee as well as three other stakes winners.

Dodgen Bullets is a son of El Corredor who bears watching in the Norfolk. He won his maiden impressively and could get a minor award.

Oak Leaf showcasing fillies to watch

The Oak Leaf Stakes, run on Saturday at Santa Anita, is a competitive affair, with many fillies who have shown promise.

Tasha's Miracle - from the exciting first crop of Harlan's Holiday, who is off to a fast start at stud - won the Sorrento at Del Mar and was expected to run in the Del Mar Debutante but tied up two days before that race and had to be scratched. According to trainer John Sadler, she hasn't missed much training and is ready to go.

Set Play was third in the Landaluce Stakes, finished second to Tasha's Miracle in the Sorrento. and then won the Del Mar Debutante. She is by another successful freshman sire, Van Nistelrooy, who is getting high-quality winners here and in Europe. Set Play's second dam is a half-sister to multiple stakes winner With a Twist.

The cleverly named Grace Anatomy may trump them all. She is from the first crop of champion sprinter-miler Aldebaran, and comes from one of Darby Dan Farm's most prolific female families. Out of the Storm Cat mare Propriety, her second dam is the outstanding turf mare Plenty of Grace, who is a three-quarter sister to Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf winner and champion grass mare Soaring Softly.

Among famous runners descending from this family are Devil's Bag, Glorious Song, Rahy, Singspiel, and Saint Ballado. A major broodmare, Battle Creek Girl also comes from this line. Her large brood of stakes winners include Tricky Creek, Wavering Girl, Speed Dialer, Parade Ground, and Parade Leader. Grace Anatomy should love stretching out in distance, and further development puts her squarely in the BC Juvenile Fillies picture.

Cry and Catch Me is from the second crop of Street Cry, who sired champion 2-year-old and Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense in his first crop. Cry and Catch Me has deep quality in her female family. Her second dam, Lodge, is a half-sister to the European champion miler Habitat as well as stakes winner Northfields, both influential stallions.