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Liberty Girl faces Rose to Gold in Martha Washington
Liberty Girl was one of the most impressive winners from Oaklawn Park's January 11 opening day, when she drew off to take a first-level allowance by 4 1/4 lengths in her three-year-old debut. On Saturday, the A. P. Warrior filly takes another step forward as one of nine fillies entered in the $75,000 Martha Washington.
The one-mile race, part of Oaklawn's series leading to the Grade 3, $400,000 Fantasy on April 10, will offer a total of 17 points based on Churchill Downs' new criteria for making the Grade 1, $1 million Kentucky Oaks on May 3.
"She's doing really well," said trainer Eoin Harty, who is in Hot Springs for a few days to oversee his string of horses. "At first, I was a little hesitant to run her back (in the Martha Washington) but she's spent the time since her last race training so well, I went ahead. She's been so bright and showing all the right signs. Normally, it would seem to be a little quick, but she bounced right out of that race.
"Without looking at the competition, I couldn't say whether she's going to dominate or wasn't up to the class, but I can say if she's the filly that we think and hope she is, she should handle the step up well."
Liberty Girl took four tries to break her maiden, finally getting the job done on November 17 at Churchill when taking a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight by a nose. She got a jockey switch to Robby Albarado for her optional claiming score last out, and he retains the mount on the bay miss Saturday.
Liberty Girl has big shoes to fill as a daughter of Grade 1-placed stakes winner Champagne Glow. That Saratoga Six mare previously produced dual Grade 1 victress Champagne d'Oro and 2011 Belmont Stakes upsetter Ruler on Ice.
Liberty Girl's biggest challenge in her stakes bow is Rose to Gold, who is three-for-four in her career after capturing the Grade 3 Delta Downs Princess in her last start on November 17. Thus far, the Friends Lake filly's only loss came on the synthetic Polytrack at Keeneland when a one-paced 12th in the Grade 1 Alcibiades.
Prior to that, the chestnut lass dominated by 13 lengths to break her maiden in the Lindsay Frolic before recording a 13 1/2-length romp in the Brave Raj, both at Calder. Rose to Gold will get a jockey switch to Juan Leyva for her sophomore bow in the Martha Washington.
Also in with a chance is American Sugar, who posted a seven-length score in the Dixie Belle going six furlongs over the track on January 20. The Lynn Chleborad pupil also boasts wins in the Prairie Gold Lassie and E. L. Gaylord Memorial from last year, and keeps Alex Birzer aboard for this one.