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Grandacious, Summer Soiree square off in Martha Washington
Nine sophomore fillies have been assembled for Saturday's $75,000 Martha Washington S. at Oaklawn Park, and a couple of top contenders, GRANDACIOUS (Grand Slam) and SUMMER SOIREE (War Front), will be seeking their first stakes victory in the one-mile event.
Grandacious reeled off a pair of wire-to-wire wins over maiden and allowance rivals before trying stakes company in the Delta Princess S. (G3) two starts back, and the bay miss nearly led all the way once again, weakening slightly to third in deep stretch, beaten less than a length. The Bret Calhoun runner was flattered when the Delta Princess winner, Bouquet Booth (Flower Alley), came back to capture the Silverbulletday S. at Fair Grounds in her next outing, and the runner-up, Niji's Grand Girl (Candy Ride [Arg]), posted a sharp allowance score at Gulfstream Park in her following appearance. Grandacious didn't display her customary speed when finishing second in the January 14 My Trusty Cat S. at Delta Downs last out, but the quick filly is eligible to set the pace Saturday under Jesse Campbell.
Summer Soiree merits serious respect following a 9 3/4-length allowance romp at Oaklawn on January 30, and trainer Larry Jones noted the benefit of returning from a 13-day rest given the recent sub-zero wind chills and snowfall that has kept most of the Martha Washington competitors off the track in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
"We got in the last day they had any live racing, so I'm hoping that gives her a little bit of a fitness edge," said Jones while busily "shedrowing" his string Thursday morning. "It's certainly not the way we would have designed going into a stakes, but we are playing the cards we've been dealt."
Third in the Blue Hen S. three starts back, Summer Soiree will retain the services of Gabriel Saez in her stakes return.
The top two respective finishers in the January 15 Dixie Belle S., MAZUCAMBERA (Milwaukee Brew) and ROMA JEAN (Bandini), are both back for the Martha Washington. Mazucambera, who was claimed for $30,000 from her maiden win at Churchill Downs two starts ago, stepped up to face winners for the first time with new trainer Martin Rouck and was dismissed at 16-1 odds in the Dixie Belle. She'll keep Alex Birzer in the saddle. Roma Jean captured a maiden special weight at Remington Park two back and was also overlooked at 16-1 last time. Regular pilot Bryan McNeil has the call.
JAZZIN' OKIE (Candy Ride [Arg]) will bring a two-race win streak into the Martha Washington for trainer Donnie Von Hemel, and MISS KINDERHOOK (Pleasantly Perfect) has won two of her last three attempts, most recently recording a 4 1/4-length allowance tally at Fair Grounds for conditioner Richard Jackson.
SCARLET MISS (Pure Prize), PLAYGIRL PROSPECT (Running Stag) and HOLY HEAVENS (Holy Bull) round out the field.