By Emily Shields
Trainer Carla Gaines has three of the ten runners in the $200,000 Leigh Ann Howard California Cup Oaks on Saturday at Santa Anita Park. The one-mile turf race for sophomore fillies features a solid mix of dirt horses trying grass, and turf horses trying to prove their mettle against some of the best in the division.
Gaines has both of the favorites in the race, Closing Remarks and Sensible Cat. #6 Closing Remarks (5-2) is a daughter of Vronsky who broke her maiden sprinting and is exiting the Grade 3 Jimmy Durante at Del Mar. That was over a mile and she finished tenth and last, but had traffic trouble in the lane and wasn’t that far behind the top horses. Umberto Rispoli retains the mount.
#7 Sensible Cat (3-1) is the pick here after winning two in a row, both over this one-mile distance. She broke her maiden on the grass under Mike Smith, then won the Soviet Problem on the main track at Los Alamitos. The Bluegrass Cat filly gets Smith back in the saddle and returns to the grass.
The last of the Gaines runners is #10 Westward Breeze, who lost to Sensible Cat on the dirt last out. She broke her maiden on this very course in style, winning over 5 ½ furlongs. The daughter of Munnings will have Juan Hernandez up in her return to grass.
#9 Governor Goteven (6-1) tries the grass for the first time after winning three of five on the dirt. Walther Solis trains the daughter of well-bred Govenor Charlie. The filly won her first three starts, including two sprint races for California-breds. She was fourth, beaten just a neck, going seven furlongs two back, and then second by 1 ¾ lengths going a mile at Los Alamitos with a wide trip. She is capable here.
#5 I’m So Anna (6-1) might be a price play. She ran fourth in the Soviet Problem behind several of these runners but last time on the grass she won the Pike Place Dancer at Golden Gate Fields. Steve Sherman trains the daughter of Fast Anna, who has been top three in five of six lifetime starts to date.
#1 Dylans Wild Cat (6-1) completes the top contenders. She broke her maiden here on the dirt in October, then missed by just a head in the Golden State Juvenile Fillies at 15-1. She was third in the Soviet Problem, and fits here if she takes to turf.
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