11/24/2014 2:57PM

Shanon Nicole enters Zia Park Oaks in top form

Dustin Orona Photography
Shanon Nicole cruises by 5 1/4 lengths in the Remington Park Oaks on Sept. 28.

Shanon Nicole will attempt to win her third straight stakes race Wednesday in the $300,000 Zia Park Oaks, and her task became a bit easier this week when track officials said probable favorite Jojo Warrior had been declared from the 1 1/16-mile race. But the field of six remains a strong one, with the Grade 1-placed Taste Like Candy returning to racing with straight 3-year-olds and Cassatt stretching back out to the distance of her win in the Grade 3 Monmouth Park Oaks.

“She’s been very impressive, but we still have to step it up to be able to win this one,” said Mike Maker, who trains Shanon Nicole for Connie Apostelos.

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 5 Shanon Nicole. Trainer Mike Maker is 37-4-8-4 with a $0.52 ROI over the past five years in dirt routes with last-out winners following a layoff of 45 days or more. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

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The Zia Park Oaks is the centerpiece of a Wednesday program of seven stakes worth $1.1 million in total. The second annual Land of Enchantment card includes five stakes for Thoroughbreds, among them the $200,000 Zia Park Derby, which drew Tonito M. Zia Park’s most prestigious program shares the same calendar date as Wednesday night’s Holiday Racing Festival at sister track Penn National.

Zia Park Oaks (Race 8)


Shanon Nicole (Last 3 Beyers: 91-90-80)

◗ She has been on a roll, winning the $205,000 Indiana Grand Oaks by a length July 23, then returning to take the $200,000 Remington Park Oaks by 5 1/4 lengths in her most recent start Sept. 28.

◗ Shanon Nicole is a late runner who drew post 5.

“She’ll lay four or five lengths off of it,” Maker said. “I hope they go out there ... and we sit in the garden spot.”

◗ Jockey Corey Nakatani will team with Shanon Nicole.

“He’s a strong finisher, a top-class rider,” Maker said.

◗ Maker said Shanon Nicole arrived Sunday from Kentucky.

Taste Like Candy (Last 3 Beyers: 89-84-68)

◗ She was second in a $62,500 optional claimer against older rivals last out at Santa Anita, where she dueled and finished 3 1/4 lengths behind the 4-year-old Yahilwa. Last Saturday, Yahilwa won the first stakes race of her career in the $200,000 Treasure Chest at Delta Downs, a one-mile race for fillies and mares in which she defeated Grade 1 winner Spring in the Air and Grade 3 winner Class Included.

◗ Taste Like Candy might get an ideal tracking trip behind Belleofthebeach and Cassatt.

◗ Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer has given the mount to Elvis Trujillo.

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Cassatt (Last 3 Beyers: 76-83-82)

◗ Cassatt is returning to the distance of her win in the Monmouth Park Oaks after running ninth in the Grade 2 Raven Run at seven furlongs at Keeneland.

◗ Cassatt pushed a hot pace in the Raven Run and has since worked a bullet five-eighths in 59.60 seconds at Fair Grounds.

◗ Kerwin Clark has the mount for trainer Larry Jones.

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 2 Jojo Warrior. Trainer Bob Baffert is 13-8-2-1 with a $2.56 ROI over the past five years in dirt routes outside of California following a layoff of 61 days or more. Click for more details. Mike Hogan