06/21/2012 1:57PM

Pleasanton: River Kiss may be tested in California Wine Stakes


The good news for eight of the nine 3-year-old fillies entered in Saturday’s $50,000-added California Wine Stakes is that the race will be run on the dirt at the Alameda County Fair rather than on paper.

On paper, it looks like a one-horse race with the Doug O’Neill-trained River Kiss coming north in search of her first stakes victory. A daughter of Awesome Gambler, she was second in the Grade 3 Sorrento Stakes in her second start as a 2-year-old, and she has run third in a pair of stakes this year. She comes into Saturday’s race following a nine-length, wire-to-wire allowance victory on June 1.

Though the speedy River Kiss, who drew the rail, looks like the one to beat, she won’t win simply by showing up.

Trainer Tim McCanna sends out the only stakes winner in the field, Youtheprizeandi, and stakes-placed Munnings Sister, who won her maiden race here last year.

McCanna freshened both of his runners and saw them run well in their comebacks in preps for this race.

Youtheprizeandi won her debut at Emerald Downs last spring and then won a Washington-bred stakes in her second start on July 4. McCanna did not run her again until Jan. 2 when she was third, a head behind stakes-placed Hennessy River, one of Saturday’s rivals. She didn’t run again until May 19, when she closed for second, losing by a nose to Hard Spun Secrets, who was nominated to this race.

Munnings Sister has more speed than her stablemate and scored a wire-to-wire maiden victory here last year before finishing third after setting the pace in the Wine Country Debutante at Santa Rosa.

She held on for a wire-to-wire victory in her comeback eight months later and then ran evenly May 25 against older when she finished fourth, one length behind Hennessy River.

“At least they won’t compromise each other with one on the pace and one coming off it,” said McCanna.

Trainer Rene Amescua enters Yuma Thurman, who was well-regarded but winless as a 2-year-old. She has won two straight against easier.

“She’s doing really well right now, but we’re taking a flyer,” admitted Amescua. “We haven’t done anything different, but, with the wins, her whole demeanor is different.”

Earlier in the day, eight Arabians will compete in the $20,000 Sheik Zayaed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Arabian Cup. Golly Bret, who won a Grade 3 race at Lone Star last year, heads the field, which includes the solid California runner Ordination and one mare, Pj Miss Zuby, who has won both her starts here.