04/02/2014 2:14PM

Santa Anita Oaks tough spot for late-running Arethusa

Shigeki Kikkawa
Arethusa got the setup she needed to win the Sharp Cat, but might not in the Santa Anita Oaks.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Arethusa will be closing from off the pace in Saturday’s $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks over 1 1/16 miles. Whether she can run down her five rivals will depend on the pace and how far the speedy Fashion Plate carries her speed.

Eoin Harty, who trains Arethusa, isn’t sure if the circumstances will favor Arethusa, who was third to a front-running Fashion Plate in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes over a mile Feb. 1. Harty fears the presence of a speed-biased track, which would make it hard for Arethusa to catch Fashion Plate or Ria Antonia, who was promoted from second to first in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies here last November.

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“The way the track is, the best-case scenario would be third,” Harty said. “The races are over one or two jumps out of the gate.”

Owned by Darley Stable, Arethusa has one win in six starts, an upset victory by 8 1/2 lengths in the Sharp Cat Stakes over 1 1/16 miles at Hollywood Park last November. She was fifth in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet over 1 1/16 miles in December, her final start at 2. The Las Virgenes is Arethusa’s only race this year.

Harty said Arethusa would not be as effective if she were put near the pace, and that lagging back early is “her natural style.”

“She’s built like a giraffe and not a Quarter Horse,” he said. “I hate to sound like a whiny trainer, but that’s the way it is.”

Arethusa is part of a field of eight that includes Artemis, who was second in the Grade 2 Santa Ysabel Stakes on March 1; Honey Ride, a maiden race winner March 2; and Bajan, a two-time stakes winner at 2. Smoove It, who was third in the Sweet Life Stakes on turf Feb. 15, and Kissin Lucky Lips were supplemented to the Santa Anita Oaks for $8,000 on Wednesday.

◗ Dance With Fate, second in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields in February in his most recent start, will be ridden by Corey Nakatani in the $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 12, trainer Peter Eurton said. Dance With Fate has won 2 of 7 starts and earned $230,050. Last September, he was second in two Grade 1 races – the Del Mar Futurity and the FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita.