08/09/2012 1:23PM

Santa Rosa: Broken Sword looms over Wine Country Debutante opponents

Marcel Langevin/Vassar Photography
Broken Sword coasts to an 11-length victory in the Juan Gonzalez.

Broken Sword stamped herself as the queen of Northern California 2-year-olds with an 11-length victory in the Juan Gonzalez Memorial in her July 7 debut at Pleasanton. On Saturday, she drew the rail against six brave challengers in the $75,000 Wine Country Debutante at six furlongs at the Sonoma County Fair in Santa Rosa.

A 2-year-old Broken View filly, Broken Sword was the third head in a three-way pace duel through a 21.81 opening quarter in her 5 1/2-furlong debut. She had her head in front after a 44.99 half and pulled with five furlongs in 56.92, and completed the distance in 1:03.27. Judging by those fractions and her Beyer Speed Figure of 80, she is substantially faster than her rivals on Saturday.

As spectacular as the victory was, there are still questions about Broken Sword, who was a $20,000 yearling purchase at the Keeneland sale last September for Mark DeDominico, George Todaro, and her trainer, Jerry Hollendorfer.

None of her six rivals in the Juan Gonzalez has won since the race, and she had four slow maintenance drills before a half-mile bullet work Tuesday.

Still, Broken Sword has the respect of rival trainers, including Jeff Bonde who has entered Unusual Way in the Wine Country Debutante.

“I thought she ran huge at Pleasanton,” said trainer Jeff Bonde.

Bonde entered two runners against Broken Sword on July 7, including Island Frolic, who finished third in what was her debut. Island Frolic came back to run second behind Saturday rival Marks Mine in a July 26 maiden race here.

Unusual Way may be Broken Sword’s main opponent Saturday. She scored a strong victory in her debut May 5 at Betfair Hollywood Park but has been beaten double-digit lengths in the Cinderella and Landaluce since then.

“She’s a big, good-looking filly, and she’s doing everything well right now,” said Bonde. “In her last race, she drew the rail and didn’t break well. She rushed up but tired, and the inside wasn’t good anyway.”

Trainer Steve Specht sends out Marks Mine, a $44.40 winner in her debut, and Royal Recruit, who has won her only two starts, both in Idaho.

Specht think Marks Mine has the better chance of the two. When asked about Royal Recruit, he said, “She hasn’t impressed me as much as the other filly.”

Specht said he was a bit surprised by the dominance of Marks Mine’s debut win, which came by 3 1/2 lengths and earned a 65 Beyer, but did expect a good race from her.

“I worked her a couple times in company with Heavenly Babe, and she just ran away from her,” he said. “Heavenly Babe won the day before but only for maiden $12,500.

“Maybe the only advantage we have is she’s been training here. We’ll see.”