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Willa B Awesome Heads Hollywood Oaks

Hollywood Park logo.
Photo: Hollywood Park
Willa B Awesome will try for her third graded stakes victory of 2012 in the $150,000-guaranteed Hollywood Oaks Saturday at Betfair Hollywood Park.

A Grade II for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles over Cushion Track, the Oaks is the eighth of nine races. Post time is 1 p.m. Track gates will open at 9:55 a.m. for simulcasts.

Owned by a partnership that includes Phil Daniels, Patsy London, John Winters and breeder Terry Lovingier and trained by Walther Solis, Willa B Awesome already has victories this year in the Grade III Santa Ysabel and Grade I Santa Anita Oaks.

Additonally, the daughter of Awesome Gambler and the Nineeleven mare Cause I’m Tricky won the Melair Stakes – which is restricted to California breds – in her first start of the Spring/Summer meet April 28. The Melair – along with the Snow Chief Stakes – were the two primary events on the California Gold Rush Day card.

Should Willa B Awesome prevail Saturday, she would become the first Melair winner to repeat in the Hollywood Oaks. The last California bred to win the Oaks was Lethal Heat in 2008.

Never off the board in four races over Cushion Track – including a pair of wins – Willa B Awesome is 5-for-13 lifetime with earnings of $593,896.

Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who won the 2006 Oaks with Hystericalady, will send out a pair – Killer Graces and Via Villaggio – this year.

Owned by a partnership that includes Hollendorfer, Daniel Borislow, Gillian Campbell and Steve Melen, Killer Graces has earned her three carreer wins in stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park.

The daughter of Congaree and the Old Trieste mare Heatherdoesntbluff won the Cinderella and Landaluce in succession during the Spring/Summer meet in 2011, then capped her year with a 14-1 upset in the Grade I Hollywood Starlet.

No worse than second in five races over Cushion Track, Killer Graces has started 11 times and banked $432,830.

Owned by California Horse Racing Board member Steve Beneto, Via Villaggio has won three of 10 and earned $121,070. The Bernardini filly out of the Alhaarth mare Hoh Buzzard is already a stakes winner at the meet, surprising Sister Moon in the Grade III Railbird Stakes May 19.

Eden’s Moon, whose biggest win came in the Grade I Las Virgenes March 3 at Santa Anita, returns to Betfair Hollywood Park for the first time since she finished second behind Reneesgotzip in her debut last Dec. 16.

Owned by Kaleem Shah and trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, Eden’s Moon will try to rebound after finishing last – 48 ¾ lengths behind winner Believe You Can – in the Grade I Kentucky Oaks May 4 at Churchill Downs.

Third behind Willa B Awesome in the Santa Anita Oaks, the daughter of Malibu Moon and the Giant’s Causeway mare Eden’s Causeway has won two of five and earned $238,600. Baffert is aiming for his third win in the Hollywood Oaks after scoring with Santa Catarina (2003) and Tough Tiz’s Sis (2006).

An impressive winner versus older rivals in a June 7 allowance, Starlight Magic will be making her first appearance in a graded event.

Trained by Mark Glatt for owner Cory Wagner, the Marino Marini filly out of the General Meeting mare Star’s Millennium has three wins in seven attempts and a bankroll of $209,900.

She has won two of three at the Oaks distance, including a 1 ¾ length victory in the California Cup Juvenile Fillies last Oct. 29. She wound up third in the Melair, 3 ½ lengths behind Willa B Awesome.

An 11 ½ length winner against maidens May 3 in her first try at the Oaks distance, Potesta will get a much tougher test for owners Anthony Fanticola and Joseph Scardino and trainer Mike Mitchell. The Macho Uno filly out of the Furiously mare Katzen has earned $42,400 in two races.

A winner twice in three starts over synthetic – both on Polytrack at Turfway Park – Open Water will be making her first start since finishing third at 31-1 in the Las Virgenes.

Trained by Eric Guillot for Southern Equine Stable LLC and Mike Smith, the Include filly out of the A.P. Indy mare Biscayne Bay has two wins in six outings and earnings of $63,500.

Customer Base has been off the board in two previous appearances in Grade II events – 11th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf last Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs and fifth in the Golden Rod Nov. 25 at the same venue –for Glen Hill Farm and trainer Tom Proctor.

The daughter of Lemon Drop Kid and the Tale of the Cat mare Little Cat Feet has won two of six and earned $79,246.

From inside out, the field for the Hollywood Oaks: Will B Awesome, Martin Pedroza rides, 121 pounds; Starlight Magic, Garrett Gomez, 117; Customer Base, Kevin Krigger, 115; Eden’s Moon, Rafael Bejarano, 119; Open Water, Victor Espinoza, 115; Potesta, Joe Talamo, 113; Via Villaggio, Joel Rosario, 115 and Killer Graces, Mike Smith, 119.



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