Untapable, Rachel Alexandra Victress Pretty Mischievous Eyes Local Hat Trick in Fair Grounds Oaks
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Contact: Kevin Kilroy
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After a flat effort in the Rachel Alexandra, can Hoosier Philly return to her winning ways?
100-40-30-20-10 Kentucky Oaks points are on the line as the Championship Series begins in New Orleans with the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) presented by Fasig-Tipton.
New Orleans, La (March, 20 2023) – With only one blemish to her otherwise perfect 4 for 5 record, Godolphin’s homebred Pretty Mischievous looks to maintain her local dominance against a field of four other 3-year-old fillies in Saturday’s $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) presented by Fasig-Tipton at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
The 1 1/16 miles Fair Grounds Oaks was carded as the 11th of 15 races on the Louisiana Derby Day card with a post time of 5:08 p.m. CT. Saturday’s program also features the $1 million Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2). Both races for 3-year-olds are the first preps to offer 100-40-30-20-10 qualifying points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve and the Longines Kentucky Oaks.
Along with the duo of 3-year-old stakes events, Saturday’s program also includes the $500,000 New Orleans Classic (G2) presented by Relyne GI by Hagyard, the $300,000 Muniz Memorial (G2) presented by Horse Racing Nation, the $100,000 Tom Benson Stakes, the $100,000 Costa Rising Stakes (LA), the $100,000 Crescent City Derby(LA), and the $100,000 Crescent City Oaks (LA).
Winning the Rachel Alexandra (G2) at 8-1 was evidence that Godolphin’s filly Pretty Mischievous had flown under the radar as headlines and bettors have gravitated towards others in the 3-year-old filly division. Capping off her 3-2-0-1 freshman campaign with a win in the Untapable should have enlarged what might have been a blip on the screen to a blown-up presence to be reckoned with, but in the Rachel, it was Hoosier Philly and Chop Chop, two fillies who had not yet replicated their 2-year-old talents, who garnered most of the attention. Logging a trio of local works since last raced, Pretty Mischievous has been training well, filling out, and maturing nicely for the Brendan Walsh barn ahead of her second start as a 3-year-old.
“Physically she’s done super,” Walsh said. “Every time I’ve gone away and come back (to Fair Grounds), she’s gotten stronger. That’s what she’s done all winter. People still don’t give her the credit she deserves. You don’t go four for five without being pretty good. I touted this filly from the get-go. I thought she was going to be really nice and I think she’s proven to be.”
In the Kentucky Oaks Futures Wager, which closed three weeks after the Rachel Alexandra, Pretty Mischievous was made the seventh choice in the field at 15-1 behind Wet Paint, Wonder Wheel, Hoosier Philly, Punchbowl, Julia Shining, and “All Other 3-year-old Fillies.” As a 2-year-old she won the $100,000 Untapable, an allowance and her maiden, both at Churchill Downs. Her only loss came in the Golden Rod (G2) where she stumbled out of the gates losing three lengths and ended in third, just over five lengths behind the winner Hoosier Philly.
“She’s very adaptable,” Walsh said. “She’s very easy to ride. She can go to the front; she can come from behind. She can do whatever. She’s in great order. Sure looking forward to it. She’s been working great, put in a great work yesterday (March 18). She’s ready to roll. (The Fair Grounds Oaks) will be a good test, but again she’s passed them all so far, and I would be amazed if she’s not right there again on Saturday.”
The Into Mischief filly by the Tapit dam Pretty City Dancer will break from post No. 3 under her Untapable-jockey Brian Hernandez Jr., looking to add to her 63 Oaks qualifying points.
The Triple Crown nominee Hoosier Philly has carried the high expectations of her connections and her backers into each of her four starts. A lot of the hype surrounding Gold Standard Racing Stables’ Hoosier Philly extends from not just her open-length victories but also from the high praise of her trainer Tom Amoss who said prior to kicking off her sophomore campaign that “if she stays healthy she is going to wow the world.” Sent off as the favorite in all of her races, most recently she was bet down to 2-5 in the Rachel Alexandra before stumbling out of the gate and finding herself tucked in behind horses. Hoosier Philly never mustered a serious bid, resulting in a distant third-place finish.
“I think we have a good post (in the Fair Grounds Oaks),” Amoss said. “Drawing outside the field of five in a race where there are quite a few horses who want to be forwardly placed. If something unusual were to happen at the start, as it did last time, the ability to recover and not be closed in by other horses is a benefit.”
Prior to her 3-year-old debut, the Golden Rod-winner fired three morning bullets, impressing onlookers with how easily she covered ground. Hoosier Philly has three breezes coming into the Fair Grounds Oaks, her first two at 4 furlongs, going 5th best on March 3 and 17th best on March 10. Her final morning prep produced a 1:00 flat 5-furlong bullet.
“As with any thoroughbred in trying to gauge how they’re training, I think anything you see on Hoosier Philly is fairly subtle,” Amoss said. “But I think she’s coming into the race enthusiastically and I like that.”
Currently ranked ninth with 15 points in the Kentucky Oaks standings, Hoosier Philly is in a good position to earn her spot in the gate the first Friday in May. Jockey Edgar Morales retains the mount. Amoss has an interesting history in the Fair Grounds Oaks. He won the 2018 edition with Chocolate Martini, a filly he claimed just six weeks prior for just $30,000. In 2020, his Serengeti Empress ran 7th in the FG Oaks as the favorite, but returned to win the Kentucky Oaks at 13-1.
Ike and Dawn Thrash’s The Alys Look has been a pleasant surprise for Brad Cox this winter. An easy maiden winner early in the meet, she finished a good second behind Pretty Mischievous in the Untapable in advance of a game win over her favored stablemate Chop Chop in the SIlverbulletday. The Alys Look passed on the Rachel Alexandra (G2) by design, and she is fresh and ready for Saturday. Cox won the Fair Grounds Oaks in back-to-back years – 2020 with Bonny South and 2021 with Travel Column.
Brad King, Randy Andrews, Chris Coleman, Jim Cone, Suzanne Kirby, and Lee Lewis’ Christian d’Oro is a new addition to the Steve Asmussen barn. Going 4-2-2-0 while in the care of trainer Todd Fincher, the Bolt d’Oro filly has been racing at Zia Park and Sunland. Breaking her maiden in her last start as a 2-year-old, she followed it up with a gate-to-wire victory going 6 1/2 furlongs in the Borderplex Stakes at Sunland in January. In her first and only workout at Fair Grounds, Christian d’Oro breezed five furlongs in 1:01.20, the sixth best of 48 on Sunday, March 19.
“She appears to be the pace of the race,” Asmussen said. “We recently got her from Todd Fincher in good shape. She went over the (Fair Grounds) track nicely. She’s a classy filly to be around. But this will be the first time we run her.”
Steve Asmussen has won the Fair Grounds Oaks four times including a score last year with Joel Rosario aboard Echo Zulu. Rosario returns to guide Christian d’Oro from post No. 2.
Robert E. Masterson’s Southlawn earned her crack at this group with a resounding, local allowance victory on February 17 for trainer Norm Casse. Fourth past the opening quarter, she dragged leading rider Rey Gutierrez to the front down the backstretch, and she extended that margin of victory to eight lengths across the wire.
Here is the complete field for the Fair Grounds Oaks from the rail out (with jockey, trainer and morning line odds): 1. Southlawn (Rey Gutierrez, Norm Cassie, 8-1); 2. Christian d’Oro (Joel Rosario, Steve Asmussen, 15-1); 3. Pretty Mischievous (Brian Hernandez, Jr., Brendan Walsh, 8-5); 4. The Alys Look (Luis Saez, Brad Cox, 2-1); 5. Hoosier Philly (Edgar Morales, Tom Amoss, 2-1).
About Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots
Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, one of the nation’s oldest racetracks, has been in operation since 1872. Located in New Orleans, LA, Fair Grounds, which is owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global Select Market: CHDN), also operates a slot-machine gaming facility and 15 off-track betting parlors throughout Southeast Louisiana. The 151st Thoroughbred Racing Season – highlighted by the 110th running of the Louisiana Derby – will run from Nov 18, 2022 through March 26, 2023. More information is available online at www.fairgroundsracecourse.com.