09/01/2014 2:56PM

Sky Preacher set for stakes debut in Oak Tree Juvenile Turf

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DEL MAR, Calif. – Sky Preacher’s summer campaign will be defined by turf races. He beat maidens in his debut on the surface at Santa Anita in June and makes his stakes debut as the likely favorite in the $100,000 Oak Tree Juvenile Turf over a mile at Del Mar on Wednesday.

This is the race that trainer Doug O’Neill has been waiting for in recent months.

By Sky Mesa, Sky Preacher was purchased for $80,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. auction of 2-year-olds in training in March.

“He’s a classy horse who takes care of himself,” O’Neill said. “When we got him in from Florida, he was a little light. He’s thrived in California. He has filled out and looks phenomenal.”

Sky Preacher is one of two turf-course winners among the 13 horses entered in the Oak Tree Juvenile Turf. The field will be limited to 12 starters, with the maiden claimer Southeast Asia on the also-eligible list.

The race could produce a few runners for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf over a mile at Santa Anita on Oct. 31.

:: Del Mar closing day: Get PPs, watch Wednesday's card live

KEY CONTENDERS

Sky Preacher (Last 3 Beyers: 66-64-65)

◗ He was second and fourth in maiden sprints on dirt at Santa Anita before winning the one-mile turf race June 27. Sky Preacher was near the lead throughout and won by 7 1/2 lengths under Tyler Baze, who has the mount Wednesday.

◗ Sky Preacher races for Success Racing, which is managed by Dennis O’Neill, Doug’s brother.

Dallas Skyline (Last Beyer: 65)

◗ By Scat Daddy, he won his debut in a one-mile maiden race on turf here by 1 1/2 lengths, closing from fifth in a field of 10 as the 5-2 favorite.

◗ Trainer Cody Autrey said Dallas Skyline can be tactical and race closer to the front if needed.

“I thought it was very professional the way he ran,” Autrey said. “He’s doing well. He seems more forward and more mature since his first race. He’s come along in the last 60 days.”

Daddy D T (Last Beyer: 73)

◗ One of nine maidens among the 13 entrants, Daddy D T was sixth in his debut behind the highly regarded Om in a maiden race over 6 1/2 furlongs Aug. 9.

◗ Daddy D T failed to draw into a maiden race over a mile on the Polytrack synthetic surface Saturday, leading to the entry in the Juvenile Turf.

“I think he is very good,” trainer John Sadler said. “I’d like to run him around two turns.”