ROYAL HEROINE MILE S. | PURSE: $500,000 | FILLIES AND MARES | 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP | GRADE 2 | ONE-MILE (TURF)
Just a few hours after retired Kentucky Derby and Preakness hero I'll Have Another paraded for the final time at Hollywood Park on Saturday, owner J. Paul Reddam and jockey Mario Gutierrez had another reason to bask in the spotlight, courtesy of Quiet Oasis' scraping home in the Grade 2, $150,000 Royal Heroine Mile. The Ben Cecil filly outdueled a pair of stubborn foes in Mega Dream and Briecat in a three-way photo to earn her second career stakes victory.
Quiet Oasis' first stakes score also had an I'll Have Another connection. She captured the Grade 3 Wilshire Handicap over this same turf course and distance on April 29, the Sunday before I'll Have Another rocketed to stardom at Churchill Downs. This was a more poignant occasion. Instead of Quiet Oasis serving as an auspicious harbinger, she was bidding the former Reddam colorbearer adieu before he embarks for stud duty in Japan.
As in the Wilshire, Briecat grabbed the early lead and carved out fractions of :24 1/5, :47 4/5 and 1:11 2/5. Mega Dream stalked alongside Ninth Infantry, Nereid was well spotted in fourth, and Quiet Oasis strode in fifth, ahead of 8-5 favorite All Star Heart. City to City and Up in Time were unhurried at the back.
Briecat continued to hold sway entering the stretch, and when Mega Dream ranged up to challenge, Briecat dug in determinedly along the inside. Then Quiet Oasis rallied wider out, and as she swept past, she appeared on the verge of forging clear. But Mega Dream came again, and Briecat was still boxing on, to produce a thrilling finish.
Quiet Oasis prevailed by a head, with Briecat another neck away in third. After covering the firm-turf mile in 1:35, Quiet Oasis paid $8, $3.80 and $3.20 as the 3-1 second choice.
Nereid checked in fourth, trailed by Ninth Infantry, Up in Time, City to City and a disappointing All Star Heart, who never picked up her game.
Quiet Oasis now sports a 10-4-2-1 mark and $262,379 in earnings. Most recently runner-up to Belle Royale in the Grade 1 Gamely on Memorial Day, she was furnishing another compliment to that now-sidelined rival. Gamely third Capital Plan had since come back to capture the Grade 3 Beverly Hills Handicap on June 24.
The Irish-bred Quiet Oasis was originally based with Brian Meehan in England. The daughter of Oasis Dream finished a close fourth in her stakes debut in the Group 3 C.L. Weld Park Stakes and seventh in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.
Quiet Oasis stayed stateside and joined Cecil ahead of a 2011 campaign, which barely had a chance to get going. After missing by inches to Cambina in the Grade 3 La Habra on the downhill turf at Santa Anita, she was sidelined for nearly eight months. She returned to action with a good-looking 2 3/4-length allowance score, booking her a ticket to the November 25 Grade 1 Matriarch, where she faded to sixth. Quiet Oasis made her four-year-old debut in the Wilshire, and she is better than ever at present.
"In England she had made a little bit of a noise," Reddam revealed, "but we weren't worried about that. We bought her from our trainer (Meehan) in England and she's stretched out like a pro. The other difference is that now she's able to relax more and settle. When she first got here, she was very, very keen and would kind of take herself out of the race. She's like a different race horse now and I would give full credit to Ben and his team."
Cecil commented on the same issue.
"The problem with her early on is that she was very headstrong and rank," Cecil said. "The nice thing is she's gotten more and more relaxed. She hasn't done much wrong since she's been here. Her one not-so-great race was the Matriarch and she really didn't run a bad race. She was still plenty aggressive at that time. My exercise rider has done a really good job of getting her to settle."
Gutierrez has also played a part in the morning routine.
"This is just great," Gutierrez enthused. "She didn't fight me at all today and was a real professional. I've been working her in the mornings, and I knew she was really feeling good for this race. She's been settling down really nicely in her works. I thought if she could settle like that in the afternoon, nobody could beat her."
Bred by Breeding Capital PLC and Swettenham Stud, Quiet Oasis is a full sister to French Group 3 hero Young Pretender. They were produced by the winning Sunday Silence mare Silent Heir, who is in turn a half-sister to Australian Group 3 scorer Castlethorpe.
Quiet Oasis' third dam, English and Irish champion Park Express, is responsible for European champion, Group 1 Epsom Derby star and hot freshman sire New Approach; multiple Japanese stakes victor Shinko Forest; and Group 3 queen Dazzling Park.
Park Express also factors as the ancestress of Irish Group 1 winner Alfred Nobel and current Group 1 Epsom Oaks heroine Was, who is expected to contest the Group 1 Irish Oaks on July 22.