03/06/2008 12:00AM

Setup figures to benefit Golden Doc A


ARCADIA, Calif. - With leading rivals such as Indian Blessing and Country Star bound for stakes in other parts of the country, Golden Doc A has emerged as the leading 3-year-old filly racing at Santa Anita this winter.

She proved that point with a one-length win in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb. 9, and will be favored to add another Grade 1 race to her list of accomplishments in Saturday's $300,000 Santa Anita Oaks.

The Santa Anita Oaks is run over 1 1/16 miles and could be Golden Doc A's fourth stakes win. Owned by Ron McCauley and trained by Barry Abrams, Golden Doc A is by far the most accomplished of the nine 3-year-old fillies entered in the Oaks.

The style of the race may be an ideal fit for Golden Doc A, a closer. With front-runners such as Lovely Isle, the runner-up in the Las Virgenes, and Kazamira, third in the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel Stakes, in the field, Golden Doc A should have a pace to follow.

"She likes to make one run," Abrams said.

A winner of 3 of 10 starts and $345,356, Golden Doc A closed from last in a field of six in the Las Virgenes to beat Lovely Isle by a length. In her preceding start, she was a fast-closing second to 2007 champion 2-year-old filly Indian Blessing in the Grade 2 Santa Ynez Stakes over seven furlongs on Jan. 13.

Final Fling, winner of the Santa Ysabel, has a style similar to Golden Doc A and could pose a threat to the favorite. Trained by Ral Ayers, who is filling in for suspended trainer Jeff Mullins, Final Fling closed from fourth to win the 1 1/16-mile Santa Ysabel by 1 1/4 lengths.

Asked if she can improve, Ayers said, "Why not? It was her first time going two turns. She's got her own style. She relaxes nicely."

Trainer Bobby Frankel has two starters - Ariege and Lovely Isle - both of whom are searching for their first stakes win. Frankel is bypassing the race with Country Star, who will start next month in the Ashland at Keeneland.

Ariege was a troubled third in the Blue Norther Stakes over a mile on turf in her U.S. debut on Dec. 30 and returned to finish second by a nose to the highly promising Passion in the Grade 3 La Habra Stakes on the hillside turf course on Feb. 2.