O’Neill: Vegas Magic ‘A Better Version Of Herself Every Day’ Leading Up To Del Mar Debutante

Trainer Doug O’Neill hopes to deprive Bob Baffert of his fourth consecutive G1 TVG Del Mar Debutante. Nothing personal, you know. It’s just that he has a pair of talented 2-year-old fillies that have shown they have what it takes to win a prestigious race like the one on Saturday.

A field of eight is expected for the 72nd running of the Debutante. O’ Neill has two of them, Vegas Magic and Satin Doll. The former is coming to the party off of her impressive victory in the G2 Sorrento last month.

“She came out of her last in great shape,” O’Neill says. “She’s training well and we’re excited about her chances. She seems like a better version of herself every day.”

Vegas Magic, a daughter of Good Magic, is undefeated after three starts, including a victory in the $75,000 Everitt Nevin up at Pleasanton in July which followed her maiden win at Santa Anita in June.

“The water definitely gets a little deeper in a race like this but we’re optimistic she’s got a big chance to improve and get it done,” O’Neill said.

His other entry is Satin Doll, who finished fourth to Vegas Magic in the Sorrento last out. He’s confident of an improved effort this time around.

“We’re hoping to get her back to her maiden win,” O’Neill says. “It was on this track, she has Kyle Frey back on her and she’s training well. She’s going to have to step up her game from the last race but we’re optimistic she will.”

Trainer Bob Baffert matches O’Neill’s pair of aces with a two gems of his own in the Debutante. Home Cooking won by nine lengths to break her maiden at Del Mar last out and Baffert is hoping for something similar on Saturday.

“She sat off the pace and they went really fast early,” Baffert says, “and that had a lot to do with it. A lot of horses look better when there’s a speed duel and you can sit off of it. She can go to the lead, but she can sit off, too. And going 7/8’s, if you go too fast, you break :22, you’re not going to get there.”

The other Baffert horse is Fast and Shiny, a first-out winner by Bernardini.

“The distance should help her,” Baffert says. “She’ll be coming from off the pace. We just got to get the trip; it’s all about the trip and how you break and all. I think the race is wide open, there are some nice horses in there.”

The Debutante is run at seven furlongs, the farthest any of the eight fillies have run so far in their young careers. All have broken their maidens with the exception of Kissed by Fire, who ran second to Justique in her debut at Del Mar in July and Ice Dancing from the Richard Mandella barn. She ran third in her debut behind And Tell Me Nolies, who is also running in the Debutante.

The TVG Debutante goes off as the eighth race on the 11-race Saturday program.

Here’s the field from the rail with the jockeys and morning line odds: Vegas Magic (Abel Cedillo, 3-1); Kissed By Fire (Joe Bravo, 8-1); And Tell Me Nolies (Ramon Vazquez, 3-1); Satin Doll (20-1); Fast and Shiny (Juan Hernandez, 8-1); Home Cooking (Mike Smith, 9/5); Arella Star (Hector Berrios, 15-1), and Ice Dancing (Flavien Prat, 8-1).

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