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Del Mar: Cambina, Nereid Meet Again

July 16, 2011.Nereid riden by Joseph Talamo, and Cambina riden by Martin Garcia finish in a dead heat in the American Oaks Stakes at Hollywood Park, Inglewood, CA

The Grade I, $250,000 American Oaks on July 16 at Hollywood Park concluded in a dead heat between Cambina and Nereid. It was the  first dead heat in a Grade 1 race at Hollywood Park in  21 years.

Saturday, in the Grade I, $250,000 Del Mar Oaks,  the co-winners and three others from the six-horse American Oaks field will be joined by standout east coast invader Summer Soiree and the 1-3 finishers from the Oaks-prep San Clemente Handicap in a field of 10 for what promises to be an intriguing 55th running of the 1 1/8 mile turf event.

Nereid, the lesser-regarded behind Star Billing of a pair of John Shirreffs trainees in the American Oaks, led from the start of the 1 ¼-mile race to the last instant when Cambina drew even for the photo finish. Last of six after the first half mile of the race, Cambina made a determined late run and recovered from a  bump that nearly turned the diminutive filly sideways inside the eighth pole.

“It was a pretty scary moment,” trainer Jeff Bonde recalled Friday morning. “She was making her run and got bumped pretty hard, but she was able to re-rally and get a dead heat which we were happy about.

“Fortunately she came out of it without any nicks and that’s what we cared about the most.  She’s trained very well for this (Del Mar Oaks) race.  Hopefully we’ll get a fair run at it and she’ll do it.”

Cambina, an Irish-bred daughter of Hawk Wing,  is owned by a partnership that includes Alan Bilich, Jason Cline and George Schmitt. Purchased privately in the fall of 2010, Cambina won three stakes in a row at Santa Anita from February through April, capped by the Grade II Providencia.  Third-place finishes in the Senorita and Honeymoon stakes at Hollywood Park preceded the American Oaks.

Friday morning, Mersad Metanovic, racing manager for the Bonde stable and the man who found Cambina, showed a visitor to the stall where the chestnut filly was standing quietly in a corner.

“She’s so small, but you can’t measure her heart and she’s got as big a heart as any horse on the racetrack,” Metanovic said.  “Put her heart in some of the guys in the barn and we’d have all champions.”

Star Billing (third), Entrustment (fourth) and Bizzy Caroline (fifth) are also following up the American Oaks with the Del Mar Oaks which, at 1 1/8 miles, is an eighth of a mile shorter. Up In Time and Celestial Kitten come out of winning and third-place efforts in the San Clemente, a race in which Sarah’s Secret saw a four-race winning streak to start her career come to an end.

Sarah’s Secret, a winner over Oaks entrants Star Billing, Cambina, Singapore Lily, Up In Time and Entrustment while winning the Honeymoon Handicap,  will be sent out seeking to rebound.



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