DEL MAR, Calif. - Necessary Evil is not only perfect in two starts, she thrashed her rivals, including the colts in the Grade 3 Hollywood Juvenile Championship last month.
What is she going to do to a group of talented 2-year-old fillies in Friday's $150,000 Sorrento Stakes at Del Mar?
"She gets over the track better here," trainer Doug O'Neill said. "It's scary."
Owned by Dapple Stable and Glencrest Farm, Necessary Evil beat maidens by 3 3/4 lengths May 31 and won the six-furlong Juvenile Championship by three lengths in a hand-ride under jockey Joel Rosario on July 12.
Rosario, the leading rider at Del Mar through Sunday, has kept the mount for the Sorrento, a Grade 3 over 6 1/2 furlongs. He rode four of the 10 fillies in their last starts, including Well Deserved, who was second in the Landaluce Stakes on July 12, and the maiden winners Miss Heather Lee and Octogarian.
O'Neill starts three fillies in the Sorrento, including Octogarian and Southern Fireball. Octogarian was an easy winner of a maiden race at Hollywood Park on July 9 in her debut and will be ridden by Garrett Gomez on Friday.
"She's his kind of horse," O'Neill said. "Garrett's strength is knowing the pace and finishing up."
Gomez won the Wickerr Stakes last Friday at Del Mar but has otherwise struggled at this meeting, winning with just 4 of 56 mounts.
Southern Fireball has not started since finishing fourth as the even-money favorite behind Well Deserved in the Cinderella Stakes on June 11. She will be ridden by Victor Espinoza.
O'Neill is not keen on running all three in the same race.
"In an ideal world, there would be three options," he said. "The owners realize this is the place to try them out."
Necessary Evil and Well Deserved are the only stakes winners in the field. Well Deserved has drawn the rail, which did not thrill trainer David Hofmans.
"I'm not excited about the 1 hole," he said. "We'll probably be the second or third favorite. Our rider seems to think the same way."
With Rosario on Necessary Evil, Well Deserved will be ridden by Joe Talamo. In the Landaluce, Well Deserved was near the front early and was beaten three-quarters of a length by Repo, who returned to win the CTBA Stakes here July 24.