10/07/2011 1:10PM

Santa Anita: Mildly Offensive gets back to dirt

Benoit & Associates
Mildly Offensive, with Rafael Bejarano riding, wins the Santa Paula at Santa Anita.

ARCADIA, Calif. – The Santa Anita winter meet ended too soon for Mildly Offensive, whose career began with two blowout wins on a dirt surface she loved.

Mildly Offensive, a 3-year-old filly trained by Carla Gaines, dusted maidens by 4 1/4 lengths in February. She followed one month later with an allowance romp in which she earned a stakes-caliber Beyer Speed Figure of 98.

But the winter meet ended soon after, as did the opportunity for Mildly Offensive to race on dirt. From April to September, the only California options were synthetic or turf at Hollywood Park and Del Mar.

Gaines and owner Warren Williamson considered sending Mildly Offensive to New York, but ultimately stayed home to try a new surface. It flopped. Mildly Offensive finished fourth on Hollywood turf, fourth on Hollywood synthetic, and fourth again on Del Mar synthetic.

Thankfully for Mildly Offensive, Santa Anita’s autumn meet finally arrived. When she returns to her preferred dirt footing Sunday in the $65,000 Louis R. Rowan Stakes at Santa Anita, Mildly Offensive figures to win.

Six fillies and mares will race 6 1/2 furlongs in the Rowan, including a promising 3-year-old filly who figures to give Mildly Offensive a better fight than the first time they met.

John Sadler trains Home Sweet Aspen, whose career began in the same race as Mildly Offensive. The result was not close. Home Sweet Aspen finished more than four lengths behind her rival, but she has improved since.

Home Sweet Aspen, owned by Jenny Craig, dusted maidens in her next out, and then shipped to Churchill Downs for the Grade 3 Eight Belles. Home Sweet Aspen earned the lowest speed figure of her career, but her runner-up effort was outstanding. After breaking from an inside post, she dueled through a hot pace, but was collared late.

Home Sweet Aspen’s return to California was delayed when she came out of the race sick. But she picked up where she left off by finishing second in July at Del Mar, and improved second start back Sept. 5, winning an allowance by daylight. The Rowan is her first start since.

Mildly Offensive and Home Sweet Aspen are the quickest in the field. If they compromise each other, it is anyone’s race from behind. Salty Sarah has won 3 of 7 since she was claimed by Bob Baffert. Chalula One won a stakes at Fairplex last out. Church Camp and Madera Castana go route to sprint.