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HORSE RACING

Mrs Kipling to test Grade I skills in American Oaks

The 3-year-old filly owned by celebrity chef Bobby Flay and trained by Neil Drysdale won the Grade III Senorita Stakes in May but has never raced longer than six furlongs.

July 05, 2009|Eric Sondheimer

One of the most intriguing 3-year-old fillies running in today's Grade I $700,000 American Oaks at Hollywood Park is the Irish-bred Mrs Kipling, owned by celebrity chef Bobby Flay and trained by renowned turf specialist Neil Drysdale.

The most obvious question is what in the name of breeding logic is Mrs Kipling, a daughter of Australian sprint champion Exceed And Excel, doing in a 1 1/4 -mile turf marathon?

"We don't know if she can go 10 furlongs yet," Drysdale said. "It's an experiment."

The international field of 14 horses, seven of which are from outside California, presents a handicapping challenge because many have shown potential but no one knows which are capable of winning at the distance.

It is the eighth race on an 11-race card that includes the Grade I $300,000 Triple Bend Handicap at seven furlongs on the Cushion Track.

Flay bought Mrs Kipling in England for $235,000 on the advice of Drysdale after she had won two of five starts as a 2-year-old, none longer than six furlongs on the turf. But Drysdale saw that Mrs Kipling's dam was by the Darley stallion Carnegie, who won four times at 1 1/2 miles, adding to the puzzle of how far Mrs Kipling might run.

"If you looked at her on paper as a 2-year-old, she was running in five-furlong races," Flay said. "He discovered after bringing her to California and giving her time off that she wanted to go further. It surprised me in a good way."

Mrs Kipling won the Grade III Senorita Stakes at one mile on the turf at Hollywood Park on May 3 in the excellent time of 1:34.2. That earned her an invitation to what has become perhaps the most prestigious turf race for 3-year-old fillies in the United States. Jockey David Flores has the mount.

Flay said he watched the Senorita Stakes from home in New York while cooking dinner for his wife and father.

"That was pretty exciting," he said.

Flay, who owns five upscale restaurants and got into the horse-racing business about eight years ago, is hoping Mrs Kipling can deliver her first Grade I victory.

"She doesn't have to have the lead," he said. "She gets very relaxed, and that's a sign of a horse, in my opinion, that has a lot of class. You kind of press the button and she circles them at a moment's notice."

Drysdale said he was encouraged in that Mrs Kipling continued to grow between her 2-year-old and 3-year-old seasons.

"She's a very attractive filly," he said. "Sometimes you purchase a 2-year-old and that's what you get."

Flay might have lucked out on a hot new sire in that Darley's Exceed And Excel, a son of Danehill, has been enjoying success in his initial crop of sons and daughters.

Now comes the big test.

"My fingers are crossed, and I'm hoping she'll go the 10 furlongs," Drysdale said.

The Triple Bend, a 13-horse field of sprinters, includes the improving Bob Baffert-trained Zensational, a 3-year-old son of Unbridled's Song who has won two of his four starts and could develop into a Breeders' Cup sprint candidate.

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Monterey Jazz cruises

A rejuvenated Monterey Jazz ran away to a 3 1/4 -length victory over Artiste Royal on Saturday in the Grade II $150,000 American Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on the Hollywood Park turf course under jockey Tyler Baze.

Trained by Craig Dollase, Monterey Jazz has come to relish the turf course, setting a track record at one mile in his last start after having lost four consecutive races.

After Storm Military took an early lead, Monterey Jazz pulled away on the backstretch and was never challenged in an overpowering performance.

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Five wins for Rosario

Jockey Joel Rosario rode five winners Saturday at Hollywood Park, giving him 67 victories at the meeting.

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Smith to ride Mine That Bird

Jockey Mike Smith has agreed to ride Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird in the West Virginia Derby and the Travers Stakes. Smith rode Mine That Bird to a second-place finish in the Preakness.

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eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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