Racing News

Kentucky Oaks 137 Update for April 4

R Heat Lightning Sizzles In Gulfstream Oaks; Ashland, Fantasy Set for Weekend

| Churchill Downs | 04/04/2011 #
  • R Heat Lightning could be the Kentucky Oaks favorite after a dominant win in the Gulfstream Oaks (Coglianese Photos)

  • Dancinginherdreams galloped on Monday, April 4 at Churchill Downs as she trained toward the April 9 Ashland (Reed Palmer)

FLORIDA / PLETCHER’S R HEAT LIGHTNING HEADS GULFSTREAM PARK OAKS – Paul R. Robsham StablesR Heat Lightning was considered a major contender for the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) heading into Saturday’s $300,000 Gulfstream Oaks (GII), but her 8 ¼-length demolition of six rivals at Gulfstream Park could make her the filly to beat in America’s greatest race for 3-year-old fillies on Friday, May 6 race at Churchill Downs.

                The 3-year-old daughter of Trippi, the odds-on 3-5 favorite in the Gulfstream Oaks, rallied three wide on the far turn in her debut at the Kentucky Oaks distance of 1 1/8 miles and drew away easily under jockey John Velazquez.  Island School rallied for second and 50-1 shot Salary Drive salvaged third.  It’s Tricky, the 9-5 second choice, never threatened and finished fourth.

                R Heat Lightning, trained by two-time Kentucky Oaks winner Todd Pletcher, covered the distance in 1:49.27.

Pletcher’s filly won Saratoga’s Spinaway (GI) and was runner-up to unbeaten champion Awesome Feather in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) at Churchill Downs at two. Saturday’s win was preceded this year by a romp in Gulfstream’s one-mile Davona Dale (GII), and her combined victory margin in the two races is 15 ½ lengths.

“I wasn’t surprised that she ran that kind of race today after the way she ran the last time,” Pletcher said.  “I didn’t think she got quite the respect she deserved after winning the Spinaway and finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup last year, but now I think she’ll be recognized at the head of the class.”

                Trainer Shug McGaughey said runner-up Island School could also head to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Oaks.

                “It’s very hard to catch up over this track from the back, but we always want to let her run her race, and that’s what we did today,” McGaughey said.  “We thought going two turns was what she’d like, and she’ll keep improving.”               

MIDWEST (Illinois, Kentucky) / ASHLAND FIELD TAKES SHAPE – Kathmanblu, the favorite in 2011 Kentucky Oaks Future Wager, looms as the likely favorite for Saturday’s 74th running of the $400,000 Central Bank Ashland Stakes (GI).

                Trainer Ken McPeek skipped the Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) for a run in the Keeneland race by Kathmanblu, who carries a three-race winning streak that includes Churchill Downs’ Golden Rod (GII) and Fair Grounds’ Rachel Alexandra (GIII).

                Other likely starters for the 1 1/16-mile race Ashland, which will be run over Keeneland’s synthetic Polytrack, include Pocahontas (GII) winner Dancinginherdreams; Mazarine (GIII) and Suncoast winner Wyomia; Delightful Mary, third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and winner of the filly division of the recent Ocala Breeders’ Sales (“OBS”) Championships in Florida; Delta Princess (GIII) and Silverbulletday winner Bouquet Booth; Draw It and Excited.

SOUTH (Arkansas, Louisiana) / HEARTS ON FIRE LIKELY FOR INSTANT RACING – The field for Saturday’s $300,000 Fantasy (GII) at Oaklawn Park figures to be something less than crowded, but trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel said on Sunday that his promising 3-year-old filly Hearts On Fire would probably run in the $100,000 Instant Racing on April 15.

“I’m just not sure our filly is quite up to the level of the leaders around her quite yet,” Von Hemel said.

Honeybee (GIII) winner Joyful Victory and unbeaten Arienza are expected to head the Fantasy field. 

California Chrome Cruises to Victory in 140th Kentucky Derby before Crowd of 164,906

Steven Coburn and Perry Martin's favored California Chrome, ridden by Victor Espinoza, took command at the head of the stretch en route to a 1 3/4-length victory over Commanding Curve to win the 140th running of the $2,202,800 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I). A sun-splashed crowd of 164,906, the second-largest attendance in Kentucky Derby history, watched California Chrome give jockey Victor Espinoza a second Derby victory to go with his triumph on War Emblem in 2002.

Global View Nips Storming Inti at Wire to Win 23rd Running of Grade II American Turf

Glen Hill Farm's Global View caught Storming Inti in the closing strides

Midnight Lucky Romps in 28th Running of Grade I Humana Distaff

Midnight Lucky, making her first start in more than 11 months, took the lead out of the gate

Coffee Clique Catches Dame Marie Late to Win 29th Running of Grade II Churchill Distaff Turf Mile

Coffee Clique squeezed through an opening along the hedge

Derby Week Concludes with Memorable Kentucky Derby 140 as California Chrome Wins America’s Greatest Race

164,906 fans pack historic Churchill Downs

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