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Catahawk, Miss Shake Em Bug head Friday's La Pacifica Handicap

April 15, 2009     E-mail this page to a friend!

Miss Shake Em Bug, with John Dahlke aboard, wins the Idaho Cup Futurity, August 9, 2008
(photo by Robert Cooke, Jr.)
By Orlando Gutierrez, Los Alamitos Race Course

Catahawk and Miss Shake Em Bug headline a contentious group of three-year-old fillies in the featured $30,000 La Pacifica Handicap on Friday night at Los Alamitos.

A winner of the Debutante Handicap in January, Catahawk turned in a fantastic effort that night for trainer Mario Loza, prevailing by a nose over Grade I-finalist Splendifferous. A runner-up in her trial to the La Primera Del Ano Derby in her last start, Catahawk made up considerable ground late after breaking slowly and getting bumped at the start. Moreover, she had been away from the races for two months coming into that trial effort and could improve in her second start off of the layoff.

Another major player in Friday's featured event figures to be Lin Melton's Miss Shake Em Bug. An import from the Idaho racing circuit earlier this season, she brings a strong resume into the La Pacifica Handicap. Among those impressive performances was a smashing two and a quarter length victory in the Idaho Cup Quarter Horse Futurity at Les Bois Park. Already a four-time winner from only seven starts, Miss Shake Em Bug could present a strong challenge to probable post-time favorite Catahawk. In her only start this season, she took on open-sex competition in an allowance event on March 21st, turning in a highly respectable effort behind a trio of Grade I stakes finalists including Hulapai, Bf Regal Rage, and Cartels First Card. Back in against fillies-restricted rivals for Friday night's race, she should turn in an even stronger effort for her owner John Flint.

Hope To See Ya Zoom could also pose a threat. A winner last time out at the 220-yard distance, she bested six rivals by an easy length. Idle for more than two months coming into this race, she'll try to make it two straight wins by taking Friday's La Pacifica Handicap. Additionally, her trainer Carlos Gonzalez has been superb so far in 2009, making eight trips to the winner's circle from only 23 starts, good enough for a 34% win clip.

Don't count out Shining First Love either. Although she's still a maiden, this three-year-old daughter of First Down Dash has run a number of bang-up races in her 12-start career. Such efforts include a narrow loss to California Juvenile Challenge winner Miracles N Perks in August and a solid third behind Winners Version and Moonlight Corona in her trial to the Golden State Million Futurity trials last season. She also qualified to the Los Alamitos Maiden Stakes earlier this year, a race she ran fifth in behind the talented Royal Proclamation, who has since come back to capture the El Primero Del Ano Derby as well.

Another horse to consider is Travel Alert. Owned by Ed Allred, she turned in back-to-back victories last year in the trials to the Kindergarten and Ed Burke Million Futurities. Since the start of the 2009 meet, she's started twice at the allowance level, finishing third behind Takeela Sunrise in her last out. Beaten by less than a length, she dueled throughout with a solid group of open-sex rivals, earning an 89 speed index for the effort.

Saving Faith, a winner at the $20,000 claiming level in her last out, and the Jaime Gomez-trained Marvelous Madison complete the field.