Oak Leaf: 'Kelly' ready to stretch out

Updated: October 2, 2010, 3:35 PM ET
By Brad Free | Daily Racing Form

INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- Tell a Kelly remains the top 2-year-old filly in California, but circumstances change Sunday when she races a longer distance against a tougher field than she crushed in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante at seven furlongs one month ago.

The Grade 1 Oak Leaf Stakes, over 1 1/16 miles at Hollywood Park, is the West Coast prep for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Tell a Kelly's trainer, John Sadler, believes distance is a non-factor.

"I don't think it's an issue," he said. "I worked her three times here, with the training designed to stretch her out. I'm confident she'll be running at the end."

If she delivers the same explosive rally that propelled her to a 4 1/2-length Debutante win, Tell a Kelly and jockey Alonso Quinonez can win the Oak Leaf. It will not be easy, because two rivals have greatly improved.

True Way of Grace scored an impressive stakes win Sept. 18 at Fairplex Park; Izshelegal has regained her best form after tailing off in summer. Those two are the main threats in the Oak Leaf, which drew seven entrants.

Tell a Kelly raced three times in six weeks at Del Mar.

"She hasn't backed up," Sadler said. "She has great energy for a 2-year-old, which is kind of rare."

She also blew away a rabbit workmate Sept. 27 in a sharp seven-furlong drill and enters the Oak Leaf as the deserving favorite.

True Way of Grace also has been ambitiously campaigned and wheels back 15 days after winning the $91,000 Barretts Debutante at Fairplex Park.

"She acted like she never ran," trainer Alexis Barba said.

True Way of Grace lost twice against maidens prior to the stakes.

"Fillies are a little more delicate sometimes, and I'm not seeing delicate in this one," Barba said.