- Road to the Kentucky Derby
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John Asher's Kentucky Oaks 136 Update for Monday, March 22
FLORIDA / PLETCHER’S DEVIL MAY CARE REBOUNDS IN BONNIE MISS – A pair of disappointing runs had sent Glencrest Farm’s Devil May Care tumbling from the roster of 3-year-old fillies considered major contenders for the $500,000-added Kentucky Oaks (Grade I), but a rebound win in Saturday’s $200,000 Bonnie Miss (GII) at Gulfstream Park has lifted her back to the top of the list of potential Oaks favorites.
The winner of Belmont Park’s Frizette (GI) at two, Devil May Care was coming off poor back-to-back runs in November’s Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI), in which she finished 11th of 12 over the synthetic Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita, and the Silverbulletday (GIII) at Fair Grounds, where the daughter of Malibu Moon beat only one filly in a field of six in her debut as a 3-year-old.
Davona Dale (GII) winner Amen Hallelujah and highly regarded Christine Daae were the strong favorites for the 1 1/8-mile Bonnie Miss, but neither was a match for the resurgent Devil May Care as the Todd Pletcher trainee blew past the former at the top of the stretch and, after a somewhat erratic run to the finish, won by 2 ¾ lengths under John Velazquez. Devil May Care covered the distance over a fast track in 1:49.06 – slightly faster than the winning time turned in by Ice Box in his upset victory over males in the Florida Derby (GI) a short time later.
“We’ve always thought a lot of this filly,” Pletcher said, “but I’m not surprised that some could be a little skeptical after her last two races.”
Pletcher, who won the Kentucky Oaks with Ashado (2004) and Rags to Riches (2007), said the next start for Devil May Care would come in America’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies on Friday, April 30 at Churchill Downs. He attributed the filly’s poor races on her distaste for the synthetic track in the Breeders’ Cup and an eventful experience at Fair Grounds when she misbehaved in the starting gate prior to the Silverbulletday.
Trainer Rick Dutrow said Amen Hallelujah would also head to the Oaks. Joanie’s Catch was third in the Bonnie Miss, with California invader Switch in fourth and Christine Daae finished a disappointing fifth.
SOUTH / PLETCHER’S AILALEA FAVORED IN FAIR GROUNDS OAKS, LOCAL HERO JODY SLEW QUESTIONABLE BECAUSE OF INJURY – Starlight Partners’ Ailalea, winner of the Tempted (GIII) last fall at Aqueduct for trainer Todd Pletcher, is a tepid 3-1 morning line favorite in a field of 11 3-year-old fillies entered in Friday’s 44th running of the Fair Grounds Oaks (GII).
Four of the last five winners of the Kentucky Oaks prepped in the Fair Grounds Oaks, including Rachel Alexandra, who won last year’s renewal on the way to a record 20 ¼-length victory in the Kentucky Oaks and eventual honors as the 2009 Horse of the Year.
Ailalea finished sixth in the Forward Gal (GII) at Gulfstream Park in her only start of her 3-year-old season and her first outing since an easy win in the Tempted in early November. The daughter of Pulpit has a record of 2-0-1 in five races and will be ridden by Javier Castellano.
The Fair Grounds Oaks field includes Jody Slew and Quiet Temper, the 1-2 finishers in the Silverbulletday (GIII) on Feb. 20 at the New Orleans track.
Martin Racing Stable’s Jody Slew, who also won the Tiffany Lass at Fair Grounds, is bidding to become the first horse to sweep the trio of Fair Grounds’ stakes races for 3-year-old fillies, but her participation in the race is in question because of an injury suffered by the filly last week. Trainer Bret Calhoun said the filly bruised herself in a stall mishap and could miss Friday’s race.
“It’s not anything serious,” Calhoun said on Saturday. “She’s a little sore.”
Jody Slew missed a scheduled Friday workout because of the injury. On Sunday, Calhoun reported that she jogged a mile and galloped a mile that morning and “looked good doing it.”
“She looked very happy out there, so we’ll continue to take it day-by-day this week and not make any decisions until we have to. But her performance [Sunday] was very encouraging.”
Calhoun’s filly got up in the last jump to edge Quiet Temper in the Silverbulletday, but their roles are reversed in the morning line odds for the Fair Grounds Oaks. Mark Stanley’s Quiet Temper is the 7-2 second choice and Jody Slew is listed at odds of 5-1. Regular rider Miguel Mena is scheduled to ride Jody Slew if she goes in Friday’s race, while Robby Albarado will be aboard the Dale Romans-trained Quiet Temper.
Others in the field of the 1 1/16-mile race include Mambo Fever, Visavis, Champagne d’Oro, Seeking the Title, Sheer Beauty, Shezacrazygirl, Camille’s Appeal and The Rumor’s True.
HOT DIXIE CHICK ROLLS AT OAKLAWN – Grace Stable’s odds on favorite Hot Dixie Chick returned from a six-month break to score an easy 5 ¾-length win in Saturday’s $60,000 Prima Donna at Oaklawn Park.
The Steve Asmussen-trained winner of the Spinaway (GI) won for the fourth time in five races. Robby Albarado was in the saddle as the winner covered six furlongs on a wet-fast track in 1:10.82.
“She’s an incredible talent,” Asmussen said. “I’m glad to get that race in. It looked like Dixie Chick.”
Biorra rallied to finish second, three lengths clear of Woman Soldier.
Although Hot Dixie Chick is nominated to the Kentucky Oaks, she is not expected to be pointed toward the 1 1/8-mile race at Churchill Downs.
EAST / LIAM’S DREAM SURPRISES IN CICADA – Mrs. And Mrs. William Warren’s Liam’s Dream, ridden by Anna Rose Napravnik, overcame a poor start and scooted through a narrow opening along the rail to score a 1 ½-length win over Romantic Hideaway in Saturday’s $100,000 Cicada (GIII) at Aqueduct.
Heavily favored Bickersons, winner of Gulfstream’s Forward Gal (GII) finished sixth.
Liam’s Dream covered six furlongs in 1:10.10 over a fast inner track at Aqueduct. She finished a distant third in the Forward Gal in her previous start. A member of the only foal crop by Horse of the Year Saint Liam, the filly is not nominated to the Kentucky Oaks.