Part of the action-packed day of racing at California on Saturday will include the $750,000 Grade I Los Vinegrette Stakes, which will be run at a mile on a fast dirt course for a full field of 3-year-old fillies.
(1) CAMP BABY (owner graywolf14, 9/1) comes into this race out of a win at Massachusetts about a month ago in an allowance race. That was a pretty small field that she beat, and the previous three starts in graded stakes races did not yield much. While she was not far behind in any of the three races, she never could muster better than fifth, and this will be an even bigger step up the class ladder as she tackles a Grade I for the first time. She’s had some nice races in her career so far, but I’ll look elsewhere in what is a very talented field.
(2) VAR FLYS (owner drsafbreds6, 19/1) will be one of the longer shots in the race. Like CAMP BABY, she has struggled to really make much noise when racing against graded stakes company, failing to hit the board in four lifetime graded starts. Even in two career ungraded stakes starts, her best effort was a close fourth, and that was early last year. She won in her first career start at this track last February, but has not visited the winner’s circle since. Her SP numbers have ticked up recently, but I don’t think it will be enough to be competitve here.
(3) ZIP ZIG (owner harrylanexp13, 11/1) has been a winning machine early in her career, having yet to lose in four career starts. She made the leap after her maiden win last June right into the Grade III Sorgento right here at California in August, where she coasted to a length and a half score under jockey M Grunhard, who will get the mount today for the first time since that race. Since that race, she has won two ungraded stakes events, both by that same margin of a length and half. She’ll look to take her winning ways to the Grade I level on Saturday in her first race this year, where she’s run into a tougher field. Even so, I think she’ll be ready to step up and be competitive.
(4) THE EDDA (owner derekcarlson0, 9/1) is a very well-bred filly (Ghostzapper x Seattle Slew x Storm Cat) who has some nice races along the way so far, although like others in this field, she has struggled to take that success to stakes races. In her two stakes race starts (an overnight and a Grade III), she finished in twelfth place. She comes into this race off very little rest, finishing fourth in a NW3L allowance race at Idaho just this past Saturday. Despite her pedigree, I’m not sure she’s ready to race at this level yet given her recent form.
(5) U HOT DEVIL (owner txmafia2, 7/1) comes into this race on a three race winning streak, having edged out a win last time out in the ungraded Red Jade Dirt Filly Mile at Kansas last month. The pedigree on this filly is impressive (Giant’s Causeway x Pulpit x Unbridled) and she is out of G1-winning mare PACKIN THE HEAT, who was a multiple G1 winner and earned over $2.5 million. In her four lifetime starts, she has never finished worse than second. This will be her first start in a graded stakes race, and she seems poised to take a step up from her last race, so I like her chances to be involved here.
(6) SEIGE OF YORKTOWN (owner lasthope1, 9/1) will make her fourth Grade I start of her career on Saturday, with her previous three graded starts all over this California main track. She had two very good races in the Walnut Tree Stakes and the Breeders’ Bowl Juvenile Filly, where she finished a close second in both races. After those great races, she threw in an absolute clunker last time out in the Movieland Starlet back in December. I’m not sure what to take from that race – she was never involved, but could she have been gassed from the two great races before? She’s had nearly two months off since, so maybe she makes a rebound on Saturday.
(7) SEPOY’S LADY (owner dkstables5, 7/1), like SEIGE OF YORKTOWN, is no stranger to Grade I races, as this will be her fifth straight Grade I start, with three of the four previous starts at this track. She is the only Grade I winner in this race, winning the Frickazee Stakes at New York back in October. This followed a solid second in the Dell Computer Debutante back in September. After the Frickazee win in October, she went up against the boys in the Breeders’ Bowl Juvenile, finishing tenth, but only 5 1/4 lengths back. She then finished a disappointing sixth in the Movieland Starlet back in December. This horse is a bit of a puzzle – she is a deep closer, so I’m not sure she’ll appreciate the cut back in distance. She won the Frickazee at this distance, but that looks like a noticeably softer field than this one. Will she have enough time?
(8) RANSOM WORLD (owner lightng126, 12/1) is one of the more intriguing horses in this field. After a fast start to her career, she had been laboring through some rough finishes in graded turf races last year. Owner lightng126 decided to try her on the dirt in December in the Grade III Reflection Futurity at Ontario, and it worked wonders. She finished a solid second at 13/1, with an SP number that was far improved from any of her turf starts. You’ll get a nice price on her again on Saturday, and I would not be surprised if she’s up with the leaders by the end of the race.
(9) BLACK HOLE DRAGON (owner aryahound, 7/1) is one of three horses in this race by Giant’s Causeway, and is out of G2-winning mare DARKEST DRAGON. She rolled through her 2-year-old campaign, wrapping up with a win in the ungraded English Bark Dirt Juvenile Fillies at Kansas in December. She then came here to California to race in the Grade III Santa Jezebel on New Year’s Day, but only could manage a sixth-place finish. Her 96 SP number back in December would be very competitive here, but just like some others in here, you have to wonder whether to draw a line through the last race.
(10) KEEPING SOME FAITH (owner psalms, 16/1) is a Saudi Arabian-bred filly by Stratford Hill, and is looking to build on a nice win in the ungraded Pico Pequeno Dirt Filly Route last month here at California. She has actually been based in California since last summer, and has generally been pretty successful in her four starts here. She only finished off the board once, and that was in an ungraded stakes race back in October. The SP number of 94 last time out makes me think she can contend here, although this will be a significant cutback in distance from her last race. Don’t count her out at a nice price.
(11) UPSTATE BORN (owner derekcarlson11, 10/1) will be coming off a good third-place finish in the Radical T Dirt Juvenile Fillies, an ungraded stakes race at Idaho back in late December. Before that, she finished second here at California in an owner-restricted stakes race in a field of 18. She does have some graded experience from last summer and fall, finishing seventh 3 1/4 lengths behind SEPOY’S LADY in the Grade I Frickazee Stakes. Before that, she did hit the board in the Grade II Iron Deck at New York back in August, finishing third only a quarter length back. Her recent form is promising, and I can’t rule her out of being in contention.
(12) GALLEGUITA (owner argentino11, 15/1) is another filly with a nice pedigree (Giant’s Causeway x Awesome Again x Unbridled’s Song), but it’s hard to gauge how good she is right now given her recent form. She broke her maiden in her first try over this surface last March, and did get to the winner’s circle in the ungraded Storm Goddess Dirt Juvenile Fillies back in July. Her next start was here at California, finishing last in the Dell Computer Debutante. After picking up a win in the allowance ranks next time out in a NW3L, she wound up in a hot race at New York last month, fading to third as the favorite. Given that last line, she’ll be hard to endorse in this spot.
(13) URBANE FRIENDS (owner birdsong, 23/1) is a New Mexico-bred who will be one of the longer shots on the board. She had a great start to her career, rattling off three straight wins including the Grade II Vermont BB Juvenile Filly last May over a sloppy track. After that race, she has struggled to produce in subsequent graded stakes races, finishing ninth, twelfth and twelfth. She does have an allowance victory from last November at New Mexico, but given her recent struggles in stakes races, I find it hard to believe that she’ll make a whole lot of noise in this race.
(14) ONE F CURLIN (owner loubrown, 6/1) draws the outside post as the favorite, coming off a decisive win in the Grade III Santa Jezebel Stakes on New Year’s Day, beating that field by 2 3/4 lengths with an SP of 99, the best this field has produced. She is a versatile filly, having won two straight on the turf going into her last race. California seems to be her favorite spot, as three of her four wins are at this track. She likes to be close to the lead early, so expect jockey A Liggis to charge out of post 14 early, trying to get good position going into the first turn. She seems to be the one to beat.
(14) ONE F CURLIN, 6/1 – Hard to go against the favorite, despite the post. She’ll need to find a good stalking position heading into the first turn, but she could be primed for a good race.
(6) SEIGE OF YORKTOWN, 9/1 – I’ll take a chance and draw a line through the last race. She should be well-rested now, and if she’s anything like she was in the BB Juvenile Filly, she’ll be tough here.
(8) RANSOM WORLD, 12/1 – That last race, her first on the dirt, was an eye-catcher. Hard to know if that was a fluke or not, but I’ll throw her in the trifecta.
(5) U HOT DEVIL, 7/1 – Trying to make it four wins in a row. This is certainly a step up, but I think she’ll be ready for it.
Good luck to all!