09/29/2011 1:59PM

Santa Anita: Yellow Ribbon next step in Dubawi Heights' quest for Breeders' Cup

Benoit & Associates
Trainer Simon Callaghan says he feels Yellow Ribbon favorite Dubawi Heights is still on the rise.

ARCADIA, Calif. – The last five months have built toward two Saturdays this fall for Dubawi Heights.

After the 4-year-old Dubawi Heights won her first stakes in the Grade 3 Wilshire Handicap at Hollywood Park in late April, trainer Simon Callaghan had Saturday’s $250,000 Yellow Ribbon Stakes at Santa Anita as a goal, followed, he hoped, by the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4.

The blueprint gained merit after Dubawi Heights won the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes at Hollywood Park on May 30 and was second to Stacelita in the Grade 1 Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington Park on Aug. 13.

BREEDERS’ CUP CHALLENGE: Racing schedule, replays, and past winners >>

“Dare to say, I think she’s still going forward and improving,” Callaghan said on Thursday. “It’s been a long-range plan but it’s nice to see that it’s gone somewhat right. The timing makes sense for all her races.”

Owned by a partnership, Dubawi Heights will be favored in an outstanding running of the Yellow Ribbon, which drew a field of nine. Aside from Dubawi Heights, the field features five other 2011 stakes winners – Cambina, City to City, Cozi Rosie, Malibu Pier, and Private Affair. Harmonious, the winner of two Grade 1 races in 2010, seeks her first win of 2011.

City to City won the Grade 2 Palomar Handicap over 1 1/16 miles on turf at Del Mar on Sept. 5, catching pacesetter Medaglia d’Amour in the final sixteenth. Medaglia d’Amour is expected to set the pace in the Yellow Ribbon, which is run over 1 1/4 miles on turf. Dubawi Heights will not be far behind, Callaghan said.

“I think Medaglia d’Amour will go forward,” Callaghan said. “I can see [Dubawi Heights] sitting behind the speed. If no one goes on, we can go forward. If not, we can sit in behind.”

Cambina, who races from well off the pace, is the lone 3-year-old in the field. Trained by Jeff Bonde, Cambina finished in a dead heat for first in the Grade 1 American Oaks over 1 1/4 miles on turf at Hollywood Park in July, and was a fast-closing fourth in the Del Mar Oaks on Aug. 20.

Cozi Rosie and Malibu Pier, first and second in the Grade 2 John Mabee Stakes over 1 1/8 miles on turf at Del Mar on Aug. 14, offer the biggest threats to Dubawi Heights.

In the Mabee, Cozi Rosie rallied along the rail under jockey Garrett Gomez to win by a half-length over Malibu Pier, who rallied wide. Malibu Pier’s chances were further hurt when jockey Brice Blanc lost his stick in the stretch.

Malibu Pier, trained by Carla Gaines, had an outstanding spring at Santa Anita this year, winning the Santa Ana Stakes and Santa Barbara Handicap. The latter race was over 1 1/4 miles on turf.

“We’ve got to have a good trip,” Gaines said of Saturday’s race. “It’s home base and she likes the trip.

In addition to Dubwai Heights, Callaghan will saddle the longshot Turning Top. Winless in six starts this year, Turning Top won the Grade 3 Beverly Hills Handicap over 1 1/4 miles on turf at Hollywood Park in June 2010. Her best finish this year was a second to Malibu Pier in the Santa Ana Stakes.

“It’s her last season, and her last chance to run in a Grade 1,” he said. “We figured we should take the chance.”