DEL MAR, Calif. – In any other year, Enola Gray might be the best 3-year-old filly in California. But this is Songbird’s season, and everyone else is playing catch-up.
Enola Gray, who won her career debut by more than 16 lengths a day after Songbird won her sixth stakes, is favored to stay unbeaten Sunday at Del Mar, where she runs one mile in the Grade 3 Torrey Pines for 3-year-old fillies.
The $100,000 race is not a slam dunk. Enola Gray, a front-runner, drew the rail in a field that includes several with similar styles. None are as quick as Enola Gray.
“With her, I don’t mind the rail at all,” trainer Phil D’Amato said. “It’s the shortest way around, and she’s going to be speed. They’ll have to come catch her.”
So far, none have. Enola Gray is 3 for 3, including a recent Del Mar sprint romp that earned a 100 Beyer Speed Figure. Only two females at this meet earned higher figures – Beholder and Stellar Wind.
Although eight were entered in the Torrey Pines, the pace will soften when Uptown Twirl is scratched. Trainer John Sadler said Uptown Twirl was likely to run in a $75,000 sprint stakes on Sept. 10 at Los Alamitos.
That leaves seven in the Torrey Pines, including a stablemate of Enola Gray, the Grade 2-placed Bellamentary, who D’Amato said is “training up a storm.” The other entrants are the graded-stakes-placed She’s a Warrior, the Vladimir Cerin-trained Kay Kay and Nine Point Nine, and the turf fillies Dreamarcher and Belvoir Bay.
Even without Uptown Twirl, Enola Gray might not have an easy lead due to Nine Point Nine.
“I don’t mind providing a little extra pace,” Cerin said.
His second entrant is the stretch runner Kay Kay, who would benefit from a pace duel.
Enola Gray, by Grazen
Last 3 Beyers: 100-94-99
The inside post dictates a front-running strategy for Enola Gray, whose previous start around two turns was a front-running win in the Melair Stakes at Santa Anita.
Tyler Baze is the regular rider for Enola Gray and will be aboard Sunday.
Enola Gray is not Breeders’ Cup eligible, and D’Amato said her fall campaign was more likely to target a race such as the Grade 2, $250,000 Raven Run on Oct. 22 at Keeneland
She’s a Warrior, by Majestic Warrior
Last 3 Beyers: 81-75-86
A deep closer, She’s a Warrior requires a pace meltdown to flatter her closing rally.
She placed in two graded stakes before winning a maiden race last time out in her eighth start.
Peter Eurton trains the filly, whose rider is Mario Gutierrez.
Kay Kay, by Pleasantly Perfect
Last 3 Beyers: 78-88-76
She returns from a two-month layoff. “She’s been training really well,” Cerin said. “I haven’t asked her to work hard, just to finish well. She’s been doing that.”
Kay Kay’s second-place finish at odds-on in an allowance two months ago is explained by timing. She was wheeling back 12 days after finishing third in a Grade 2 won by Songbird.
Bellamentary, by Bellamy Road
Last 3 Beyers: 88-83-77
She typically produces speed but is more likely to adopt a stalking position Sunday.
“If she wanted to sit midpack, or if she wanted to sit second, she could,” D’Amato said. “I’ve put her in so many scenarios working down here. She likes this track.”