Tarifa Wears Down Our Pretty Woman to Take Fair Grounds Oaks

New Orleans, La (March 23, 2024) – Roughed up a bit early and rank on the backstretch, the Godolphin homebred Tarfia would eventually settle, stalk, pounce and wear down the pacesetting Our Pretty Woman to win Saturday’s $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) presented by Fasig-Tipton. 

Away cleanly under Flavien Prat, the 1.50-1 favorite Tarifa, who won the Rachel Alexandra (G2) at Fair Grounds five weeks ago, traded bumps with the longshot Midsummer March into the first turn. Eager on the backstretch while chasing the front running Our Pretty Woman through reasonable fractions of 23.84 and 47.93, Tarfia was all in nearing the quarter-pole. The daughter of Bernardini eventually wore down a stubborn Our Pretty Woman to prevail by ¾ of a length in a final time of 1:43.25 for the 1 1/16 miles distance on a fast track.

V V’s Dream, who sat a loose pocket trip on the backstretch, was another 3 ¼ lengths back in third. It was a long way back to the Louisiana-bred Accommodate Eva in fourth. Intricate, the 2.00-1 second choice off her win the in Golden Rod (G2) as a 2-year-old and her runner-up performance in the Rachel Alexandra (G2), finished a disappointing fifth. Midsummer March was last in the field of six.

Tarifa earned 100 points for Saturday’s win, and she now leads all 3-year-old fillies with 150. Our Pretty Woman earned her first 50. V V’s Dream added 25 to raise her total to 48. Accommodate Eva banked her first 15 points and Intricate, who had 35 coming in, added 10 more (45 total) despite her poor performance.

Tarifa returned $5.00, $3.20 and $2.60. Our Pretty Woman paid $4.00 and $3.60 and V V’s Dream returned $3.20 to show.

Tarifa, who is perfect from three starts as a sophomore with all of her wins coming at Fair Grounds, raised her career totals to 5-4-0-0 for $518,935.

“She showed some early speed but once we got to the first turn, she was very keen,” Prat said. “Then she relaxed well when we got to the backside and she made a nice run down the lane. It was good to see her get competitive when she needed to. It will be a different deal when there are a lot of horses around her.”

It was the third Fair Grounds Oaks win in the last five years for Cox. He won the 2020 edition with Bonny South and followed up the next year with Travel Column.

“I would like to tell you she is settling down and relaxing, but that didn’t work out well in the first turn,” Cox said of Tarifa performance. Still, she was able to overcome it. She needs to learn to relax in the race, and obviously next time we will be facing a larger field. She needs to learn to chill out and relax. We will continue to work with her. She is a young filly who is still learning and I am proud of what she has accomplished this far. She is not a real big filly but she has handled everything we’ve asked from her and hopefully she steps forward.”

Steve Asmussen, trainer of second-place finisher Our Pretty Woman

“I’m proud of her effort. The thing is now hopefully she moves forward from it. She’ll go to Churchill on Monday with the rest of the barn. I’ll discuss it with the owners and do what’s best for (Our Pretty Woman).”

Joel Rosario, jockey of second-place finisher Our Pretty Woman

“She ran very well. It wasn’t too much pressure (from Tarifa), everything went how I thought the race would unfold. Tarifa seemed to benefit from having more races in her than my filly.”

Ken MCPeek, trainer of third-place finisher V V’s Dream

“She’s been really good to us. Maybe an Eight Belles filly, maybe she doesn’t want to go quite that far. Maybe the Black-Eyed Susan. I’ll talk to Mike (the owner) and see if he wants to go for the Oaks. She’ll have to be screaming at us to do it. She hates the mud. We got her on a fast track and she ran better. But the winner today ran a really good race.”