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SANTA ANITA : Serena's Song Adds West Coast to Lukases' Winning Package


Four weeks before Breeders' Cup day at Churchill Downs, Wayne Lukas is sitting pretty in the 2-year-old division after the rejuvenated barn had a successful Saturday in New York and California.

Timber Country verified his trainer's confidence in the Champagne, but it is the Juvenile Fillies where the trainer looks to have a stranglehold.

A few hours after heavily favored Flanders' 21-length victory in the Frizette, Serena's Song surprised 1-2 choice Call Now in the $200,000 Oak Leaf Stakes at Santa Anita.

After looking like a worn-out filly in two starts at Del Mar, including a 9 3/4-length defeat by Call Now in the Debutante, Serena's Song responded to the five weeks between races and the new surroundings.

Surprisingly able to get in front of the favorite early, the daughter of Rahy simply improved her position and went on to win by nearly three lengths in 1:41 4/5 for the 1 1/16 miles.

In providing Corey Nakatani with his fourth victory of the day, Serena's Song, the 7-2 second choice, gave Lukas his seventh Oak Leaf victory, but first since One Of A Klein in 1988.

"This is the first time I had ridden her, but I had been working her in the mornings and she had been working unbelievably since she got back from Del Mar," Nakatani said. "I think they might have changed the bridle on her, too."

Lukas' son, Jeff, saddled Serena's Song in his father's absence and he said the extra distance also helped.

"We had a different racetrack and there was more distance involved," Jeff Lukas said. "The filly performed very well. She went about her business and the next step will be the Breeders' Cup. We're looking forward to that."

Call Now, who won the Debutante by 4 1/2 lengths, finished 4 1/2 lengths ahead of 18-1 shot Mama Mucci in losing for the second time in four starts.

"She really tried hard," jockey Alex Solis said. "The other filly just had more experience than mine. I haven't lost any faith in her. Actually, my faith in her got stronger with this race. I wondered how she would relax going long, and she relaxed very well. I'm sorry we lost, but it's not the Breeders' Cup yet."


Sandpit, a multiple-stakes winner in Brazil making his third start in this country, is the 2-1 morning-line favorite against six rivals in the $300,000 Oak Tree Invitational, the first of two stakes races on today's card.

Second behind Tertian in his American debut, Sandpit won by five in the Live The Dream Handicap at Del Mar, but he will be facing tougher opponents in the 1 1/2-mile Invitational, which was won last year by eventual horse of the year Kotashaan.

Grand Flotilla, the beaten favorite in the Del Mar Handicap, is the 5-2 second choice. Gary Stevens will again ride for trainer Jenine Sahadi. Approach The Bench, beaten by a nose in the Del Mar Handicap and winner of the Eddie Read before that, Cafe Milano, Run Softly, Navire and Regency round out the field.


Oak Tree will offer the $200,000 Norfolk Stakes for the 25th time today and the field might be the weakest in the history of the race.

In a race won by the likes of Flying Paster, Stalwart, Roving Boy, Snow Chief, Grand Canyon, Best Pal and Betrando over the years, Desert Mirage, a maiden, is the 3-1 second choice on the morning line in the field of nine.

The Richard Mulhall-trained entry of Supremo, second in the Del Mar Futurity, and Strong Ally, another maiden, is the 4-5 favorite in the 1 1/16-mile race, which was downgraded to a Grade II race last year.


Scheduled to ride Alex The Great and Slick Twist in two of the Breeders' Cup Preview races Saturday at Belmont Park, jockey Pat Valenzuela took off both mounts because of food poisoning.

Valenzuela, who also took off his mounts Friday at Santa Anita, called Belmont Park steward John Joyce from a local hotel and said he was "very ill" and would be unable to ride.

Horse Racing Notes

After a two-day carryover in the Pick Six, there was one winning ticket Saturday at Oak Tree and it was worth $503,343.80 to an unidentified bettor. There were no winning favorites in races 4-9 and the biggest surprise was provided by Bolger's Lead, who paid $34 under Laffit Pincay Jr.

The Pick Six payoff was not the largest in Oak Tree history, however. A single winning ticket was worth $609,010 on Oct. 13, 1990.

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