Saturday’s Grade 1, $300,000 American Oaks Stakes at Santa Anita Park features eight 3-year-old fillies (early entrant Amandine raced on Dec. 26), most running the 1 1/4-mile distance on turf for the first time. Four enter the race having won their most recent races, three of those coming in graded stakes. Of that trio, two fillies - Californiagoldrush and Princess Warrior – earned their wins in Grade 2 stakes. Californiagoldrush won the Sands Point Stakes and Princess Warrior won the Mrs. Revere Stakes. Colonia won the Grade 3 Valley View Stakes in October in her most recent race and may be up to the task as well, but was third and beaten by Californiagoldrush in the Sands Point prior to that. Paved may be this good as well, having won the Grade 2 Honeymoon Stakes in June and then finishing second by a half-length in the Grade 1 Rodeo Drive Stakes this fall before a 12th place finish in the Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf. Kodiak West has a similar record as she won in November when making her second start in the U.S., seven months after having captured a minor stakes race in Spain. Competitionofideas ships in from New York for North American leading trainer Chad Brown. Her only stakes try came in a race rained off the grass last month, and she won two straight turf races prior to that so she may be a contender. Retro finished third in the Surfer Girl Stakes last year as a 2-year-old and is winless in three tries this year, while K P Pergoliscious has one win in seven races and appears overmatched after finishing a non-threatening fifth behind Kodiak West last month.
Paved was facing some of the toughest turf fillies and mares in the North America, if not the world, when checking in 12th in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf. but she ran exceptionally well just before that in the Rodeo Drive Stakes at the same mile and one-quarter distance of the American Oaks. In the Rodeo Drive, Paved earned a career-best and field-high 115 Equibase Speed Figure when second, just a half-length behind Vasilika, a filly who won her seventh race and second graded stakes in a row. In June, Paved won the Honeymoon Stakes over the course with a 107 figure. As such, Paved should be a strong contender in the American Oaks.
Californiagoldrush won the first two starts of her career, on opening day of the 2017-18 winter-spring meeting at Santa Anita and then again in February. After a six-month rest, she was ambitiously placed in the Del Mar Oaks Presented by the Jockey Club last summer and wasn't disgraced a bit when third of 12, earning a new career-best 109 figure. Shipped to New York one month later, Californiagoldrush beat a decent field to win the Sands Point Stakes with a 100 figure, although that win came over a very wet turf course labeled yielding. Rested three months since then, this filly who has proven capable of running big races off a layoff could have a strong say in the outcome if able to duplicate the effort shown in the Del Mar Oaks.
The rest of the field, with their best Equibase Speed Figures, is Colonia (107), Competitionofideas (94), K P Pergoliscious (98), Kodiak West (100), Princess Warrior (103) and Retro (98).