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Unlimited Budget Wins $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (GII)
By Graham Ross, Staff Writer
NEW ORLEANS (Saturday, March 30, 2013) – Repole Stables’ Unlimited Budget remains undefeated after posting an impressive 1 3/4-length tally in Saturday’s 45th renewal of the $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) on Louisiana Derby Day at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
Five of the last eight Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks winners have gone on to victory in the Grade I Kentucky Oaks later in the spring and Unlimited Budget could be favored to make it six out of nine. On Saturday, she was placed just off the early pace and challenged outside the leaders when set down for the drive.
The daughter of Jim Tafel’s Kentucky Derby winning Street Sense earned 100 points toward a start in the Kentucky Oaks with her Fair Grounds Oaks score and is now assured a position in the starting gate at the Twin Spires oval assuming she remains in the fine form she showed in two starts in New Orleans this season. She also was a facile winner of the Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes on Feb. 23 in the Crescent City and now has 160 total points.
Conditioned by five-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher and ridden by jockey Javier Castellano, Unlimited Budget returned mutuels of $3.80, $2.40 and $2.10 on Saturday, toured the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:43.22 and increased her career earnings to $610,200 with her fourth victory from four lifetime starts.
“A beautiful trip,” said Castellano. “That’s what I was looking for today. I mean, phenomenal…I really like this horse…a wonderful filly.”
West Point Thoroughbreds’ Flashy Gray, second choice in the wagering, fought the winner valiantly, staying right with her until the late stages to pay $2.60 and $2.40.
“We were in good position and I’m just trying to keep my filly as close as we can,” said Flashy Gray’s jockey Junior Alvarado. “When Castellano went by me I thought we might finish second but far back. But she kept fighting and stayed on to the end.”
Naveed Chowhan’s Seaneen Girl got up for third, 2 1/4-lengths behind Flashy Gray and paid $5 to show while Maggi Moss’s So Many Ways set early fractions of 23.32 and 45.40 before tiring.