03/03/2011 4:21PM

Zazu, Turbulent Descent meet again in Santa Anita Oaks


The first two times Turbulent Descent and Zazu met, Turbulent Descent prevailed. But in their most recent meeting last month, Zazu finally got on the scoreboard. Round four between the two most accomplished 3-year-old fillies on the West Coast takes place Saturday, when they square off in the Grade 1, $250,000 Santa Anita Oaks.

The Oaks is being run as the fourth race on an 11-race card topped by the Santa Anita Handicap.

There are three others in the Oaks, but the attention and the betting will focus on Turbulent Descent and Zazu. Fittingly, they drew alongside each other, with Zazu in post 2 and Turbulent Descent in post 3. They have similar styles, so they should be near each other throughout.

Zazu won last month’s Las Virgenes Stakes by 1 1/4 lengths, utilizing a strong stretch kick that was flattered by a torrid early pace. The Oaks, at 1 1/16 miles, is 110 yards farther than the Las Virgenes, which should help Zazu, but the pace does not figure to be as hot. The acknowledged front-runner, May Day Rose, is unlikely to be pressured as severely as she was last time.

Zazu’s trainer, John Sadler, said he believes “the pace scenario was a big factor” in Zazu’s success in the Las Virgenes, in which May Day Rose and California Nectar dueled through fractions of 21.58 and 44.25 seconds.

“Didn’t they commit suicide in front?” Sadler said.That said, Zazu is improving. Since making her debut at the end of Del Mar’s summer meeting, she has raced steadily, and her form has taken a leap forward since moving to Santa Anita, where she finished second in the Santa Ynez Stakes before the Las Virgenes.

“She’s a nice filly who always tries,” Sadler said. “She’s pretty hardy. She’s a pretty strong filly. These Tapits have good engines. She doesn’t tire. She has good energy.”

Even though Zazu prevailed in the Las Virgenes, Turbulent Descent is likely to go favored in the Oaks. The Las Virgenes was Turbulent Descent’s first start in nearly two months, since the Hollywood Starlet. Her trainer, Mike Puype, blamed himself for that loss, Turbulent Descent’s first, saying she was short and would improve significantly in the Oaks.

May Day Rose, who tired to finish fourth in the Las Virgenes, figures to be sent from the rail. She won the Santa Ysabel earlier this meet but has been no match for Turbulent Descent in their two meetings.

Bob Baffert, the trainer of May Day Rose, also sends out A Z Warrior, who is making her first start since finishing last of 12 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, her only start around two turns. Though she won the Frizette at Belmont last fall, A Z Warrior has yet to prove herself going long.

The unbeaten Kilograeme is making her stakes debut after victories earlier this meet against maidens and a first-level allowance field. Last time out, Kilograeme beat the well-regarded Rumor. She is a home run for co-owner Tom McCrocklin, who purchased Kilograeme as a yearling for just $6,000 before selling a majority interest in her as an unraced 2-year-old to the Little Red Feather Racing syndicate.

“I’ve worked with Tom for four years,” said Billy Koch, the head of Little Red Feather. “He put me onto the filly. He’s my secret weapon.”

According to Koch, the dozens of Little Red Feather partners on Kilograeme include Kenny Mayne of ESPN. And this past week, owner Marsha Naify purchased a minority interest in Kilograeme, Koch said.