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NoCal Invader Marks Mine Rates Look at SA

With nine of the 11 entrants stretching out off of their most recent races, Saturday’s $300,000 California Breeders Champion Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at one mile figures to be hotly contested early.

Isolating a favorite will be difficult and it appears any one of four fillies could merit top billing: Steve Specht’s Marks Mine, Mike Puype’s Home Journey, Jeff Bonde’s Unusual Way, or Jerry Hollendorfer’s Doinghardtimeagain—and, top to bottom, a case could be made for any of the 11 to possibly win.

Marks Mine comes off an impressive 4 ½-length allowance win going six furlongs at Golden Gate Fields on Jan. 6 and was an eye-catching winner of the six furlong Golden Gate Debutante on Dec. 1. With a 5-3-1-1 mark and $99,150 in earnings, she’ll be trying two turns for the first time.

A Mr. and Mrs. Larry D. Williams homebred daughter of Benchmark, Marks Mine will be handled by Bay Area-based Abel Cedillo, who has ridden her in all of her starts.

Home Journey earned a race-best 85 Beyer Speed figure in winning a 6 ½ furlong allowance on Nov. 9, and was made the 3-5 favorite in the restricted Soviet Problem Stakes on Dec. 9 on the strength of that win. Although the daughter of Good Journey gave way and finished last in the seven furlong affair, she should be well supported on Saturday as she tries to rebound with regular rider Aaron Gryder.

Owned by GGG Stable or Sarno, Home Journey has earnings of $62,800 from a mark of 3-2-0-0.

A multiple stakes winning daughter of Unusual Heat, Unusual Way comes off a second-place run to Doinghardtimeagain in the Soviet Problem. Owned by Brown, Jr., or Lebherz, Unusual Way will stretch out for the first time on Saturday and will again be ridden by Rafael Bejarano. She has 6-3-1-0 record and $183,610 in earnings.

A gem of consistency, Doinghardtimeagain was second, beaten a half-length in the 1 1/16 miles Cal Cup Juvenile on Oct. 13 and she has two consecutive wins since, including the Soviet Problem score. A daughter of Ministers Wild Cat, she is a Tommy Town Thoroughbreds homebred. She has earnings of $198,500 from a mark of 4-2-2-0.



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