Chandelier: Fascinating starts on rail

Updated: September 26, 2013, 11:30 PM ET
By Evan Hammonds | Bloodhorse



She's a Tiger and Fascinating, the one-two finishers in last month's Del Mar Debutante, square off again in the $250,000 Chandelier Stakes Sept. 28 at Santa Anita Park.

With a 3 p.m. PDT post time, the Chandelier -- for 2-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles -- is the first of five Grade 1 stakes on the card at the "Great Race Place." All starters will carry 122 pounds.

She's a Tiger, a daughter of Tale of the Cat -- Shandra Smiles, by Cahill Road, held off the late run of Fascinating in the seven-furlong Debutante Aug. 31 over the Polytrack surface at Del Mar. A race over dirt with an additional turn and 1 ½ furlongs adds intrigue to the matchup with Fascinating, who rallied from eighth to miss by a half-length in the Debutante. Also in the mix is post positions: Fascinating, who will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, breaks from the rail in the Chandelier while She's a Tiger will break from the outside post 8 under Gary Stevens.

Bred in Kentucky by Dr. Rodney Orr, She's a Tiger broke her maiden on dirt at Pleasanton in mid-June, then went wire-to-wire at Betfair Hollywood Park in the six-furlong Landaluce Stakes. At Del Mar she ran second, beaten a half-length by Concave in the 6 ½-furlong Sorrento Stakes Aug. 7 prior to the Debutante. She races for Mark Dedomenico, Allen Aldrich, Lisa Hernandez, and Stuart Downey. A $150,000 Keeneland September sale graduate, She's a Tiger is trained by Jeff Bonde.

John Sikura's Hill 'n' Dale Equine Holdings and Bruce Lunsford's Fascinating cost a bit more as a yearling at last year's September sale. The half sister to 2012 dual classic runner-up Bodemeister brought a final bid of $1.3 million. Bred in Virginia by Audley Farm, Fascinating is by two-time leading sire Smart Strike out of Untouched Talent (by Storm Cat), who won the Sorrento Stakes and ran second in the Del Mar Debutante in 2006 for John Sikura, Tommy Town Thoroughbreds, et al, and was trained by...Bonde.

Fascinating has made three starts, but has yet to break her maiden. She ran third in a pair of maiden special weight races at Del Mar prior to her closing effort in the Debutante. The additional ground figures to make a difference for the bay filly. She worked a half in :47 flat, handily, Sept. 23 over the strip at Santa Anita.

The Chandelier is far from a two-horse race. Baffert has another pair of fillies in Awesome Baby and Secret Compass. Kaleem Shah's Awesome Baby, a Kentucky-bred by Awesome Again -- Miss Attractive, by Running Stag, broke her maiden with ease at 4-5 at Del Mar Aug. 4, but faded to finish seventh as the 11-10 choice in the Debutante. The $220,000 September sale buy will be ridden by Martin Garcia.

Westrock Stables' Secret Compass was fourth in the Debutante after breaking her maiden at Del Mar July 28. Bred in Kentucky by Liberation Farm and Jim and Pam Robinson's Brandywine Farm, the daughter of Discreet Cat -- Maria's Pride, by Maria's Mon, went a half in :47 ⅕ Sept. 23 and will be ridden in the Chandelier by Rosie Napravnik.

Also in the mix will be C R K Stable's Antiquity, an impressive maiden winner first time out Aug. 25. The $450,000 September sale graduate is trained by John Sadler. By top sire Pulpit, Antiquity is the second foal out of Stylish Wildcat, a two-time stakes winner in 2007. Antiquity also prepped Sept. 23 for the Chandelier, working six furlongs in 1:13 ⅖.

The Chandelier, previously run as the Oak Leaf Stakes, has been a fair harbinger of future success in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies when the World Championships are run on the West Coast. In 2003 Halfbridled won both the Oak Leaf and the Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita on her way to an Eclipse Award, as did Stardom Bound in 2008. Last year's Chandelier winner, Executiveprivilege, ran second to champion Beholder in the Breeders' Cup.

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