By Dennis Miller
Over the years the stakes races at the Alameda County Fair have been named after people or horses that have a special place in the lore of Pleasanton racing.
Such is the case this year with the inaugural running of the She’s a Tiger stakes to be held Saturday, June 26.
The race is for fillies and mares at 1-and-1/16 miles and is the eighth on the Pleasanton card, scheduled for a 6:15 p.m. post time.
She’s a Tiger was trained by Pleasanton’s Jeff Bonde, with Pleasanton’s Allen Aldrich as one of her owners. She made her initial start at the Alameda County Fair on June 22, 2013, and it was a winning one.
The buzz about the horse on the backside was so great that she went to the gate as the 1-5 favorite. Breaking out to a four length lead at the first call, she ended up turning the five-furlong race in to a glorified workout, winning by nine lengths.
From there she went to Hollywood Park, announcing to the rest of the country she was the real deal, winning the Landaluce. Next, She’s a Tiger jumped up to a Grade II race – the Sorrento – at Del Mar, finishing ½-length behind winner Concave.
She came back in the Del Mar Debutante, this time winning the race under the guidance of Gary Stevens for the first time, beating Concave, Awesome Baby, and Fascinating in the process.
Four weeks later, she moved up to the Chandelier – a Grade I race – but fell by a head to Secret Compass.
That set up the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita. She’s a Tiger was four lengths clear turning for home but got a challenge from a hard-charging Ria Antonio. With 50 yards to go the two were even.
The two bumped, but She’s a Tiger battled and crossed the line first. However, in a controversial decision, She’s a Tiger was disqualified for causing interference and placed second.
A little over a month later, She’s a Tiger brought home the much sought after hardware, being named the Champion 2-year-old Filly at the Eclipse awards, collecting 212 of the 249 votes.
She would see one more race, finishing 7th in the Eight Belles at Churchill Downs in May of 2014. Following the race, she was retired.
Seven horses will go to post Saturday in hopes of becoming the first winner of “The She’s a Tiger,” stakes.
The field for The She’s a Tiger by post-position:
Tiz Fake News (Jonathan Wong trainer/Assael Espinoza/10-1): Comes into the race off a series of good races comprised of optional claimers and one allowance effort. The horse has shown speed throughout her seven career starts. There was one graded stakes event – the Grade III Santa Ysable at Santa Anita in March of 2020. She was eased in that race and went to the shelf for nine months. There has been a series of strong works in the morning, but this might be too much.
Time Voyage (Manuel Badilla/William Antongeorgi III/6-1): Has had two starts in the United States since shipping from England. The 4-year-old opened winning a $25,000 optional claimer over the synthetic track at Golden Gate Fields in April, then came back and was fifth in early June in a $62,500 claimer, also at Golden Gate. In the two starts she has shown different form, coming from off the pace in the win, while pushing the pace in the second start before fading late. This will be the first dirt start.
Clockstrikestwelve (Jonathan Wong/Evin A. Roman/3-1): The second Wong entry in the race brings a vast amount more experience. The last two starts for the 5-year-old came in graded stakes races, but neither was great. Two back in the Grade I Beholder, she finished 6th beaten 9-plus lengths by the world class Swiss Skydiver. Next came the Grade II Santa Margarita, also at Santa Anita where she was fifth out of five horses, beaten 22-lengths. The horse likes to come off the pace and there does figure to be some good pace to run at. Certainly, has seem some big races and this will be not as strong of a field, but closing win on a speed favoring track may be a big ask.
Northwest Factor (Manuel Badilla/Irving Orozco/7-2): Was claimed here last year after winning a $25,000 claiming race, going wire to wire. Sure, this is a big step up, but her form this year has been good, winning twice in five starts. The one stakes race – the Golden Poppy at Golden Gate Fields – wasn’t pretty as he finished last in a six-horse field. That race was on the turf, a surface the horse has shown little affinity for so I will draw a line through that start. Possessing front end speed, she has two wins and a second in the races surrounding the Golden Poppy.
Miss Stormy D (Geovanni Franco/Carla Gaines/5-2): The shipper from Southern California is the deserving morning-line favorite. Although she did finish one back of Clockstrikestwelve in the Beholder, she was third in the Santa Margarita. She started the year with a second in the Grade III La Canada and despite not finding the winners’ circle this year, she has seen some tough races and hit the board in three of five starts. Dirt is the preferred surface, and she has hit the board in six of her nine dirt starts. Running style shows she likes to be on the lead and will be one of the speed horses here.
Wise Rachel (Quinn Howey/Frank Alvarado/6-1): Some serious Pleasanton karma here for this race. The horse is owned by Sir Vronski LLC (Aldrich) and is ridden by Alvarado, who rode She’s a Tiger early on. After one start in 2020, the horse has come with a steady series of races this year, winning once, and finishing second twice in five starts. The series of optional claimers included four at Turf Paradise in Arizona so there is plenty of dirt experience. The last start was a fourth at Golden Gate in a $62,500 optional claimer where competitor Blue Diva finished second. The running style suggests Wise Rachel will opt to stalk the pace and get first run at the leaders when they turn for home.
Blue Diva (Isidro Tamayo/Kyle Frey/6-1): As mentioned above, she was second in her last start, a $62,5000 claimer at Golden Gate, finishing in front of Wise Rachel in the process. It was the first start of the year for the horse, so she figures to be better here. She has seen a lot of stakes action over here 26 races and has hit the board 17 times. However, she seems far more in favor of synthetic surfaces, hitting the board in 11-of-13 starts.