01/25/2016 1:56PM

Story continues for two turf fillies

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Benoit & Associates
The addition of blinkers has helped to move up Socialized, who won this Del Mar maiden race by 2 1/4 lengths.

ARCADIA, Calif. – It was late October when the maiden fillies Our First Girl and Socialized reached crossroads. Take the wrong turn, and their careers would be short.

Our First Girl, a runner-up in her debut, had gotten loose and was running wild through the Santa Anita stables. The caper ended when Our First Girl crashed into a trash bin. She was bloody and bruised, but she did not break.

Socialized, meanwhile, was going nowhere. The one-paced maiden was five starts into a stuck career. Then her owner suggested adding blinkers and revising strategy. It worked. Socialized became faster. She learned how to run.

The sagas of Our First Girl and Socialized continue Thursday when they return as key starters in two Santa Anita turf races. Our First Girl is a solid favorite in race 4, a sprint for maiden fillies and mares. Socialized is a contender in race 7, a first-level allowance for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles.

Our First Girl’s inexperience showed in her career debut Oct. 10. “She was a bit green, and she just kind of wiped out everybody,” trainer Peter Eurton said.

The filly drifted in sharply and caused interference in the stretch of the turf sprint. She was disqualified from second to seventh. It was not a total disaster. No one was hurt. But later that month, while Eurton and CRK Stable owner Lee Searing were at the Breeders’ Cup running Kobe’s Back in the BC Sprint, Our First Girl created more drama.

“She had a little mishap,” Eurton said.

Our First Girl dumped her exercise rider on the training track and got loose. She ran back to the stables and did not stop until she collided with a trash bin.

“She had to have 25 stitches on her leg, hip, shoulder … everywhere,” Eurton said. “It’s taken us this long to get her back.”

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While she recovered, the race in which Our First Girl finished second produced a host of winners. The first-, third-, eighth-, and 10th-place finishers returned to win. Our First Girl had run well in a salty field.

Gary Stevens replaces Fernando Perez aboard Our First Girl on Thursday, and expectations are high for a top effort in her first start back. Her works are sharp. Searing postponed travel this week in order to see Our First Girl.

“I think she’s ready to run right out of the box,” he said.

The allowance for Socialized is tougher. So is the filly. Owned and bred by Marty Wygod and trained by Cliff Sise, Socialized last fall was stalled after five starts. She was still a maiden.

“She was just one-paced,” Sise said.

Wygod saw the same thing, and at Del Mar, he proposed blinkers and a new strategy for her sixth start. Wygod and new jockey Mike Smith agreed that her best chance would be to set the pace in a $62,500 maiden-claiming turf route.

Socialized broke from the inside post, and Smith asked her for speed. She would live or die on the front end. If it did not work, she might need a softer circuit. Socialized set a fast pace and was gone. She won by 2 1/4 lengths and paid $22.60.

She almost did the same thing Jan. 2 while facing winners. Socialized set the pace to deep stretch but was worn down by the favorite. Since then, Socialized has maintained form.

“She’s been doing real good lately,” Sise said. “That and tactics have really helped her. She looks real good.”

KEY CONTENDERS, race 4

Our First Girl, by War Front

(Beyer: 68)

◗ Stevens and Our First Girl are likely to be forwardly placed from the outside post in a field without much speed.

◗ Favorites won just 1 of the first 9 turf sprints this winter, but since Jan. 16, favorites have won 7 of 8.

Boat Drinks, by Midshipman

(Last 3 Beyers: 58-70-77)

◗ The also-eligible Boat Drinks finished in the money in the first four starts of her career, all on the hill. Her form since has been muddled by five routes.

Spirit of Ecstasy, by Congrats

◗ A first-time starter, she probably needs a prep race. However, she is bred for the hill. Spirit of Ecstasy is a sibling to California Flag, the 2009 BC Turf Sprint winner who was 5 for 7 on the hill, and to Cambiocorsa, a Grade 3 winner who won 8 of 10 on the hill.

KEY CONTENDERS, race 7

Socialized, by City Zip

(Last 3 Beyers: 78-74-58)

◗ The turf rails are at 20 feet on Thursday; Socialized will be forwardly placed.

◗ She was produced by the Wygod-owned stakes winner Smooth Performer.


DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 2 Socialized. Trainer Cliff Sise is 26-1-5-5 with a $0.23 ROI over the past five years in turf routes at Santa Anita (21-0-3-4 over the past four years. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

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Margaret Reay, by Pioneerof the Nile

(Last 3 Beyers: 88-79-78)

◗ She won a maiden race two weeks ago in her 10th start and will keep Socialized company on the front.


DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 6 Margaret Reay. Trainer Tom Proctor is 24-7-3-6 with a $5.33 ROI over the past five years in turf routes in Southern California with last-out maiden winners. Click for more details. Mike Hogan


Tiz a Classy Lass, by Tizbud

(Last 3 Beyers: 73-79-81)

◗ A closing miler who has won two of her last three starts, her challenge is distance. She might prefer shorter.


DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 1 Holograeme. Trainer Phil D’Amato is 15-5-2-1 with a $3.46 ROI over the past five years going dirt to turf in routes at Santa Anita. Click for more details. Mike Hogan