The $200,000 Summertime Oaks (GII) will be run for the fifth time at Santa Anita Park on Saturday after being transferred from Hollywood Park when it closed in 2013. Formerly known as the Hollywood Oaks, the race kept its 1 1/16-mile distance as well as its prestige for California-based 3-year-old fillies.
Since it was first contested and won by MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer’s Honeymoon in 1946, a number of good fillies have taken down the top prize in this event, including A Gleam, Fran’s Valentine, Gorgeous, Hollywood Wildcat, Lakeway, Sharp Cat, Manistique, Affluent, Adoration and Songbird. This year, six will head postward in search of a spot on that winner’s list, only one having previously achieved a victory in graded stakes company.
The hot California weather from earlier in the week has subsided a bit, giving way to pleasant temperatures. No rain is in the forecast with the afternoon high reaching into the lower 70s. The main track at Santa Anita will be fast and the turf course firm. The Summertime Oaks has been carded as the day’s sixth race with a post time of 3:00 p.m. PT.
Chocolate Martini, who ran for a tag as low as $15,000 as recently as January, but who was haltered for $25,000 back in February, makes her first start since her respectable fifth-place finish in the May 4 Kentucky Oaks (GI). This daughter of Broken Vow won her first two starts after trainer Tom Amoss claimed her, including the Fair Grounds Oaks (GII), and now ships West for another grab at a graded win. Overall she has the strongest numbers in this field in her last three (all since being haltered) and she will love a hot pace in front of her — which is probable with the presence of Thirteen Squared and Ollie’s Candy.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, fresh off saddling his second Triple Crown winner in three years, sends out Thirteen Squared in search of his fifth victory in this race. The well-bred Arnold Zetcher homebred is a daughter of House of Fortune, who won this race back in 2004, and while she hasn’t won in six months, she’s been finishing well against some top runners like Midnight Bisou and Dream Tree. Though she’s not won over this track, Thirteen Squared has been training well and gets Tyler Baze in the irons again. Her rail post isn’t ideal, but as a frontrunner, she will have no choice but to get to the front after the break. Her best Brisnet figures, especially speed and early pace, are good enough to win.
Ollie’s Candy makes her stakes debut after winning her first two career starts in maiden and allowance company by a combined 14 ¼ lengths. The daughter of Candy Ride also makes her dirt debut and her first around two turns. She’s bred for the stretch-out, so she should be OK in that department and, if she can handle the jump in class, she may be good enough. Her numbers are OK overall and good enough to earn a larger piece. As an early speed type, she will benefit from the outside post and other speed horses in front of her, which should help jockey Kent Desormeaux put her in a good spot either on the lead or right behind it.
Fool’s Paradise is coming off a nice allowance win by five widening lengths at a mile a month ago. This daughter of Pioneerof the Nile may have found a soft enough spot to get a graded placing. She has a tactical turn of foot that she can use to her advantage, sitting off the pace under Tyler Conner and waiting for the right time to move on the frontrunners.
Zusha has a win and a pair of thirds in maiden and allowance company. She also makes her stakes and route debut and, if she can handle two turns for the first time, she could upset. Her numbers overall are strong and she’s been training great over her home track of Santa Anita.
Exuberance was second to Dream Tree, who at the time was the division leader, in the Las Virgenes Stakes (GII) back in February. She has otherwise struggled in stakes company and will need her best here.