07/31/2008 11:00PM

Sky Mom tops wide-open Oaks

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - If you have been following the career of the top 3-year-old filly Storm Mesa, who won the Grade 2 San Clemente last weekend, you might have noticed that Storm Mesa won the Iowa Oaks on June 27 at Prairie Meadows by only a diminishing length over Sky Mom. And if Sky Mom can produce that kind of performance again Saturday, she will have a good chance to capture the Arlington Oaks.

But that's a substantial "if." Sky Mom was one of eight fillies entered in the Grade 3, $100,000 Oaks, which will be contested over 1 1/8 miles on Polytrack. Sky Mom has raced as far as 1 1/16 miles only twice in her 14-start career, and it was only the closing second to Storm Mesa that moved trainer Steve Asmussen to consider this spot.

"Her last race is what got me thinking the mile and an eighth," Asmussen said. "I was just trying to keep it at a mile until then."

The fate of Sky Mom and all the other off-the-pace horses in the Oaks may rest with Rasierra, herself a major question mark at the Oaks distance. Rasierra, fifth in the Iowa Oaks, is the only horse in the race with the early speed to challenge wire-to-wire threat Dreaming of Liz, but trainer Ray Tracy may not be inclined to have jockey E.T. Baird use it.

"Really, her better races, she was a little ways off the pace," Tracy said.

Loose on the lead over Arlington Polytrack, Dreaming of Liz won the Arlington-Washington Lassie last year and two overnight two-turn stakes this meet. Her July 5 victory came by a mere neck over return rival Temper Temper, but Dreaming of Liz's trainer, Wayne Catalano, was quick to point out a pair of bullet workouts since that race.

"She's a better horse this time than last time," Catalano said.

Temper Temper has a decent chance herself. She stumbled at the start here last month in the Sweetest Chant, and even working with the short stretch used in 1 1/16-mile races, Temper Temper nearly reeled in Dreaming of Liz.

"Her three two-turn races all were good races," said trainer Rusty Arnold. "With her pedigree, top and bottom, the [mile and an eighth] ought not be any problem."

Day of Victory also comes off a race at Prairie Meadows, but was sent into the Iowa Derby, where she finished a close fourth, rather than the Oaks.

"By the numbers, we had a better chance to win that race," said trainer Bob Holthus.

Day of Victory landed leading rider Rene Douglas, but also drew the outside post for her synthetic-track debut.