Mary Clare Schmitt Pleasanton Oaks Preview

By Dennis Miller

The 7th race on Sunday is the first running of the Mary Clare Schmitt Pleasanton Oaks. It is a race named in the memory of Mary Clare Schmitt who passed away earlier this year.

Married to George Schmitt, the pair were an iconic duo in the horse racing world not just in Pleasanton but throughout California. They started as just owners but got into the breeding of race horses, and their aftercare of horses has been the template of success.

There are eight runners going to post here in the 6-furlong sprint for 3-year-old fillies. There is a purse of $75,000 of which $45,000 goes to the winner.

Here is the field in post-position order:

1) Lady Wolf (Marcia Stortz trainer, William Antongeorgi III jockey, 10/1). Bred for speed, the horse made its debut opening weekend here and went gate to wire for the win. One of two owned by George Schmitt, I expect her to be among the early leaders.

2) Jersey Sunset (Stortz, Carlos Herrera, 15/1). This is the other Schmitt runner and while still a maiden through six starts she has run some good ones, finishing second twice and third once. Another one that shows speed.

3) Tom’s Regret (Steve Miyadi, Kyle Frey, 5/2). Has been off since May 28 and has been running in the best series of races in this field. Two back she was a hard finishing second in the Grade III Senorita at Santa Anita. She has hit the board in all seven of her career starts with five of the races being stakes races. In fact, she has $246,000 in earnings already, more than the other seven horses have accumulated. Last year she won thee Kentucky Juvenile at Churchill Downs.

4) I’m a Risque Girl (Andy Mathis, Armando Ayuso, 6/1). She has two starts and showed improvements between from the first to the second, running fourth, then third. That is nice form for an allowance race but will need more here to make an impact.

5) Pappy’s Girl (Monty Meier, Hugo Herrera, 15/1). The odds are about right for a horse that comes in here from winning an $8,000 maiden race. Did draw off nicely in the maiden score but this has to be a big ask in this spot.

6) Rousing Jewel (Steve Specht, Frank Alvarado, 4/1). She’s coming off a pair of turf stakes at Golden Gate Fields which were not kind to her.  Has been very strong over the synthetic but has only one start over a dirt track and that was a fifth in a stake at Santa Anita. She seems comfortable running from just off the pace and making her run in the lane.

7) Just a Little Luck (Mathis, Evin Roman, 7/2). She has had two very strong works over the track to prepare for this one. Has two third in three starts over the dirt including one here in straight maiden company last year. Has the speed to contend and get into good position on the backstretch. It is going to be a big ask to beat the favorite, but I do like this one.

8) Big Sis Little Sis (Reid France, Alexander Chavez, 6/1). The strong barn has been quiet thus far in Pleasanton, but this could up some people. Has a maiden win at GGF, then went down to pair of turf stake at Santa Anita (5th), then back up for a turf stake locally (5th as well). Has not started on the dirt but popped a bullet work over the track last week so she appears to like the surface.

What happens: I always try to beat the Southern California shipper like I did last week in the She’s a Tiger but there are sometimes that is just going to happen. There is just so much here with Tom’s Regret that I can’t realistically make a case for another horse on the win end. Obviously, you want to see one of the Schmitt runners win the race named after his wife but it will take a monster effort. I like Jersey Sunset over Lady Wolf of the Schmitt runners as I think the Lady Wolf may need a little more seasoning. I think the second choice will be Rousing Jewel as the second choice and pulling off a stake win seems to be specialty of Steve Specht. In the end, Tom’s Regret gets it done.