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First Four From FG Oaks Bound for Kentucky Oaks
Once again this year, the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks is likely to serve as a preview of the Grade I Kentucky Oaks five weeks later.
On Saturday morning, the connections of the first four horses under the wire in Friday’s 44th running of the Fair Grounds Oaks all admitted that the Kentucky Oaks on April 30 is their next planned target, and the fact that four of the last five Fair Grounds Oaks winners have gone on to win the Kentucky Oaks underlines the strong connection between the two Churchill Downs Incorporated properties.
Of course Mark Stanley’s Quiet Temper, as the half-length heroine of Friday’s Fair Grounds Oaks, becomes the only filly with a chance to extend that win parlay to five-out-of-six, and her trainer Dale Romans updated her status during training hours Saturday morning.
“She looks good,” Romans said. “She came out of the race fine and she will leave for Kentucky Monday morning. She’s a really good filly. I’ve only been fortunate enough to saddle one other filly in the Kentucky Oaks. Her name was Sweeping Story and she finished third behind Silverbulletday in 1999. I’m looking forward to going back there with this one.”
Southern Equine Stable’s Champagne d’Oro made the pace in all but the last strides of Friday’s Fair Grounds Oaks at almost 13-1 before being collared by the winner, but gamely held the place, finishing a neck to the good of the dead-heated third place finishers. Trainer Eric Guillot was asked what the plans were for the future.
“Everything is good with us this morning,” said Guillot. “We’re looking at the Kentucky Oaks for her next start. I think leaving from the 10-hole cost us the race. I wish those two heads yesterday finished the other way around. But that’s horseracing. It can be very stressful if you let it get to you. I got in this game to have fun. I didn’t get in it to make a lot of money. If you let it get to you, you could die of a heart attack before you get to 50 years old. I just don’t let it get to me.”
L.T.B. Inc and Miles Childers’ Sheer Beauty and Charles Fipke’s Seeking the Title finished on even terms for the show spot in Friday’s Oaks and both appear headed to Louisville.
“Absolutely,” said trainer Bernie Flint, when asked if Sheer Beauty was going to be pointed to the Kentucky Oaks. “That’s home to us and Louisville is where we’re headed. She was flying at the end yesterday. That was a good race for me. She wants to go longer. The extra ground (sixteenth of a mile) will really help us.”
“That’s our plan,” said Dallas Stewart, Seeking the Title’s trainer on Saturday morning, when asked if that daughter of Seeking the Gold would be pointed for the Kentucky Oaks. “We’re looking forward to going to Louisville (and the Kentucky Oaks) with her, and everything is OK with her this morning.”
Martin Racing Stable and Dan Morgan’s Jody Slew, who won the first two legs of Fair Grounds’ sophomore filly series before running seventh in the Oaks after days of missed training, may still be pointed to the Kentucky Oaks. “She wasn’t quite ready today,” said trainer Bret Calhoun immediately after Friday’s race. “We just wanted to keep her on schedule. Hopefully, we’ll continue to move forward with her.”
Rachel Alexandra Looking Good in Sunday Gallop; Work to Come Monday
Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra came on the Fair Grounds race track for a gallop during training hours at about 6:30 a.m. Sunday, one day prior to her next scheduled work Monday morning.
“This morning she was the most relaxed I’ve ever seen her the day before a work,” said Fair Grounds clocker Billy Pettingill. “She just went about her business and looked terrific going along out there. It was a really good morning for her.”
Pletcher-Trained Trio Gets Away Early Sunday Morning
Saturday’s $750,000 Louisiana Derby champion Mission Impazible, owned by Twin Creeks Racing Stable; New Orleans Handicap hero Battle Plan, owned by Overbrook Farm; and Mervin Muniz Memorial Handicap winner Blues Street, owned by Anstu Stables, all came out of their Louisiana Derby Day races without issues and shipped out from New Orleans at about 7 a.m. Sunday, according to stall superintendent Mario Torres.
All three of Saturday’s Grade II stakes winners are conditioned by Todd Pletcher, who won his second Louisiana Derby in four years after saddling Michael and Doreen Tabor’s Circular Quay to take down winning honors in the 2007 renewal.
Hotep Likely to Get Blinkers Back On
Sam-Son Farm’s Hotep, the full-brother to that farm’s 2009 Queen’s Plate winner Eye of the Leopard, came out of Saturday’s Louisiana Derby without problems despite his 11th-place finish in the showcase race of the Fair Grounds season.
“He came back too good,” joked trainer Mark Frostad Sunday morning. “He didn’t even drink much water after the race. It might be time to put the blinkers back on him. He’s just not putting out.”