Mucho Unusual, a change-of-tactics last-to-first winner of the Grade 2, $200,000 San Clemente Stakes on July 20, will be facing her stiffest competition in the biggest field of her career in Saturday's $300,000 Del Mar Oaks presented by The Jockey Club at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in Del Mar, Calif.
The second Grade 1, along with the TVG Pacific Classic, on a day of five graded stakes, reached the maximum of 14 entries Wednesday morning.
Mucho Unusual, a daughter of Mucho Macho Man bred and owned by George Krikorian and trained by Tim Yakteen, went counter to a previous forwardly-placed running style in sweeping from 10th to first in the San Clemente. Her fourth victory in seven career starts came at the expense of fellow Oaks probables Apache Princess and Over Emphasize.
In addition to the locally-based rivals, Mucho Unusual figures to face great challenges from out-of-state shippers Dog Tag, from the stable of the nation's leading trainer, Chad Brown, and Hard Legacy, trained by Norm Casse.
In two starts this year, Dog Tag, a daughter of War Front, won the ungraded Hilltop at Pimlico and was third in the Grade 3 Lake George at Saratoga. Hard Legacy, a daughter of Hard Spun, comes in off a front-running victory in the Grade 3 Regret in June at Churchill Downs.
The field from the rail: Cambier Parc (John Velazquez), Maxim Rate (Brice Blanc), Strike at Dawn (Geovanni Franco), Hard Legacy (Julien Leparoux), Raymundos Secret (Florent Geroux), Keeper Ofthe Stars (Abel Cedillo), Dogtag (Drayden Van Dyke), Apache Princess (Kent Desormeaux), Sold It (Mario Gutierrez), Mucho Unusual (Mike Smith), Lady Prancealot (Joe Talamo), Out Of Balance (Victor Espinoza), Wildlife (Rafael Bejarano) and Hidden Message (Flavien Prat).
The Oaks will go as the ninth race on the program.
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