07/21/2017 8:46AM

Sircat Sally puts owner-breeder Turner in spotlight

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Barbara D. Livingston
Sircat Sally, unbeaten in seven starts, is by far the best horse owned and bred by Joe Turner.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Joe Turner had had eight months to grasp the brilliance of Sircat Sally, his undefeated filly who will be favored in Sunday’s Grade 2 San Clemente Handicap for 3-year-old fillies on turf at Del Mar.

Turner said with delight that Sircat Sally’s perfect record through seven starts is hard to grasp, leaving him to wonder how much more she can accomplish.

“I keep thinking that to myself,” he said this week. “When is she going to peak, or is there more to it?”

Sircat Sally’s winning streak includes three races for California-breds and four stakes against open company. She has won three consecutive graded stakes since early April.

Turner, a 78-year-old commercial contractor from Fresno, Calif., is in new territory as an owner and breeder. He tends to breed only three or four mares a year and has never had a runner as accomplished as Sircat Sally.

“It’s been incredible,” he said. “As an owner, if you have a good horse, you expect to win one or two races. To win seven in a row?”

Sircat Sally will attract even more attention if she leaves Del Mar with an intact winning streak.|The $200,000 San Clemente Handicap at a mile is a prep for the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks at 1 1/8 miles on turf Aug. 19.

Sircat Sally has yet to start in a Grade 1. The San Clemente Handicap will be Sircat Sally’s second start in a Grade 2. She won the Grade 2 Honeymoon Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on turf for 3-year-old fillies at Santa Anita on June 17 in her most recent start.

Sircat Sally has earned $528,860. She is by Surf Cat and out of Sister Sally, a 12-year-old mare by In Excess. This is the third generation of the female family involving Turner. He raced Sister Sally and Sister Sally’s dam, Temagami. Both won maiden-claiming races at Bay Meadows in the 2000s but accomplished little else.

Sister Sally is Temagami’s only named foal and is the dam of Cyclone Sally, who won one race, and Sir Vronski, who has won 13 of 25 starts and is active in Northern California. Turner raced Sir Vronski at the start of his career but lost him via claim for $12,500 in November 2015.

“He wins, but he has a bad ankle,” Turner said.

Surf Cat, by Sir Cat, stands for a private fee at Old English Rancho in Sanger, Calif. Sircat Sally is his highest money earner, recently surpassing the late sprinter San Onofre, who earned $402,730.

Turner has a theory that Sircat Sally’s success is a product of the stallion’s stamina and the mare’s infusion of speed.

“I’m really thinking the mare is the one that put the speed and the win desire into the babies that she’s produced,” he said.

Sister Sally is by In Excess, a former leading stallion in California. Always Dreaming, the winner of the Kentucky Derby, also is out of an In Excess mare. He is by Bodemeister and out of the California-bred Above Perfection, who is a four-time stakes winner.

Sister Sally has produced two fillies in recent years – a yearling by Acclamation, the champion older male of 2011, and a weanling by Square Eddie. Turner said he is considering breeding Sister Sally to Bodemeister in 2018.

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Turner has had some stakes success at Del Mar. He won the 1999 Graduation Stakes for California-bred 2-year-olds with Royal Irish. Four years later, his Military Mandate finished third in the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes for 2-year-olds.

A win by Sircat Sally on Sunday would be Turner’s greatest accomplishment at Del Mar.

“Even if I don’t win the race, to have a filly that won seven in a row is something to be proud of,” Turner said. “They’ll have us to beat.”