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Barn Notes: Wednesday May 4 - Zazu Says 'Hello'
BOUQUET BOOTH/STREET STORM – Right Time Racing’s Kentucky Oaks duo of Bouquet Booth and Street Storm galloped a mile and a half after the morning renovation break on a chilly Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs over a fast track.
Alex Castanon was aboard Bouquet Booth and Williams Cano was on Street Storm, longshot chances in the Oaks with morning line odds of 20-1 and 50-1, respectively.
Bouquet Booth, who will be ridden by Robby Albarado, will break from post position eight and Street Storm will break from post position 10 under Shaun Bridgmohan.
“We got two good spots,” trainer Steve Margolis said. “We are not totally outside and didn’t get too far inside.”
DAISY DEVINE – James M. Miller’s Daisy Devine galloped one mile with Larry Melancon in the saddle during the Oaks-Derby training session, according to trainer Andrew McKeever.
“She schooled in the paddock yesterday and she stood in the gate on Sunday so we’re just going to gallop tomorrow and that’s it,” McKeever said.
The Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) winner, who will be ridden once again by Irish-born jockey James Graham, drew post No. 9 and was installed at 20-1 on the morning line. McKeever thought the post ideal, especially with most of the speed to her inside.
“The faster they go the better it is for her,” he said. “She’ll be stalking the pace, I would expect, just like he rode her in New Orleans, although I think there’ll be more speed this time.”
McKeever explained that Daisy Devine needs a target in front of her. In the Fair Grounds Oaks she assumed the lead with more than an eighth-of-a-mile to run and lost focus, nearly allowing St. John’s River to catch her in the final strides.
“She needs a little more to run at,” McKeever said.
As for the morning line odds, McKeever responded with a “no comment.”
The Fair Grounds Oaks has proven a strong indicator of Kentucky Oaks success, with four of the past six Fair Grounds Oaks winners (prior to Daisy Devine) going on to Kentucky Oaks glory (the past six runnings of the Fair Grounds Oaks stretches back seven years since the race was not run the spring after Hurricane Katrina). The fillies to have recently pulled off that Fair Grounds Oaks-Kentucky Oaks double are Rachel Alexandra (2009), Proud Spell (2008), Summerly (2005) and Ashado (2004).
“The tracks are a lot similar, especially when it’s muddy,” McKeever said about Fair Grounds and Churchill Downs.
HER SMILE – The Virginia-bred filly Her Smile went trackside at 8:30 during the period following the renovation break reserved for Oaks and Derby runners. With exercise rider Kevin Willey in the tack, the daughter of Include traversed a mile in an easy jog and spent a few moments standing in the starting gate.
Trainer Todd Pletcher, who watched her exercise (as well as those of his two Kentucky Derby colts, Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty) from the frontside, said all was good with his filly, a private purchase by celebrity chef Bobby Flay following her second-place finish in New York’s Comely Stakes (GIII) on April 9.
Her Smile drew post position seven in the 13-horse Oaks lineup and will be handled by Garrett Gomez for her nine-furlong journey.
HOLY HEAVENS – Drs. K.K. & Vilasini Jayaraman’s Holy Heavens galloped 1 ½ miles during the Oaks-Derby training session under Nathaniel Puello, who rode her in two starts at Delta Downs, including her maiden win.
“She’s happy and ready,” trainer Benard Chatters said.
Holy Heavens, a 50-1 outsider on the morning line, drew post position No. 11 for the Oaks.
“Post position doesn’t really matter to me the way she runs,” Chatters said. “She breaks and then she just kind of drops back. She’ll be coming off it so it doesn’t really matter whether she’s inside, outside. Although she broke her maiden from the 10 and she won the Martha Washington from an outside post, too, so maybe that’s her thing.
“We like where we are. It’s a long stretch so we don’t have to get in a rush. Just hope they have plenty of pace. A couple of them want to have the lead so that could make it interesting for us.”
Kent Desormeaux has the mount on Holy Heavens.
JOYFUL VICTORY – Fox Hill Farms’ Joyful Victory, the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the Kentucky Oaks, galloped with trainer Larry Jones up during the training period for Oaks and Derby horses after the renovation break.
Jones said horses were lively Wednesday morning after overnight temperatures dropped into the high 30s.
“We galloped a mile and an eighth total. A very sprightly mile and an eighth,” he said. “We did go stand in the gate and I guess she thought it might be race day so when we came out of there we had quite the spirited gallop. She’s doing good. All is well.”
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will ride Joyful Victory in the Oaks.
Jones said he is OK with the filly drawing the rail for the historic race with a field of 13 going 1 1/8 miles on Friday. He said there is a big difference between drawing the rail in the Oaks and rail in the Kentucky Derby.
“People think it’s a mile and a quarter since it’s Derby Weekend and that is not a good thing,” he said. “We’re breaking from the mile and an eighth and the only time you don’t want the one hole is when you’re coming up off that chute (going a mile and a quarter), they run you right into the rail with 20 horses. Even if you come out of the chute with 12 horses, the one hole would be OK. But with 20 it makes it tough.
“At a mile and a eighth, this is a good spot. The only issue we have is we have to stand in the gate longer than the others. That’s why I stood her this morning and I’ll go stand her tomorrow. She needs to relax a little more . I’m happy.”
Jones said the inside post position should enable Smith and Joyful Victory to sit a stalking trip.
“Lilacs and Lace, which is right next to us, won the Ashland going gate to wire, so I’ve got to feel like they’re going to let her run on out of there,” Jones said. “I know Summer Soiree is going to run on out of there and you’re expecting Plum Pretty to get on out. Plum Pretty is going to have to go a little bit so she doesn’t lose a lot of ground in the first turn.
“I think those three will be committed to what they have to do. We ought to be able to tuck right in behind them and sit in a nice spot along the rail. Just looking at it, I wouldn’t expect us to be any worse than fourth or fifth coming out of the first turn. By saving the ground, we ought to sitting there right behind them. It should be a good trip.
“We’ll see what happens. We’ll just draft. If that wind wants to blow we’ll just draft. I’m sure that Mike has been in the one hole sometime or other going a mile and an eighth. I bet he knows what to do.”
KATHMANBLU – Trainer Ken McPeek hopes history repeats itself in Friday’s Kentucky Oaks when he sends Kathmanblu to the post. Not only did she have her signature career victory over the Churchill Downs main track in last fall’s Golden Rod Stakes (GII), but she did so off a surface change and light training in the final days leading up to the race. And, she’s reuniting with jockey Julien Leparoux on Friday.
“We just jogged her lightly today for a reason,” McPeek said. “She had two very light days before the Golden Rod last year when the track was closed because of weather and that’s when she ran the best race of her life.”
As for the surface change, Kathmanblu moved from turf to dirt in the Golden Rod last fall, and will switch from Polytrack to dirt in the Oaks. But McPeek sloughed off any significance to changing surfaces.
“A good horse can run on anything, that’s the bottom line,” he said. “And she’s a good horse. In the Ashland, she ran 67 feet farther than the winner and was wide on both turns. She probably was the best horse that day and ran third.”
McPeek and Leparoux had a widely publicized disagreement over a few trips at Gulfstream Park this winter, a move that caused the trainer to not use the rider at all during the Keeneland meeting. Turns out, McPeek won the training title and Leparoux the jockeys’ title, while never once pairing. Oaks Day will be the first time McPeek goes back to Leparoux to ride, also giving him the call on Niji’s Grand Girl in the $100,000 Edgewood Stakes Presented by Kentucky National Insurance.
LILACS AND LACE – James Covello and partners’ Lilacs and Lace schooled in the starting gate and galloped 1 ¼ miles under exercise rider Eliel DeJesus Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs.
“She did really well. She looked absolutely fabulous. I really loved the way she went over the track today,” said trainer John Terranova, whose filly captured the Central Bank Ashland Stakes (GI) over Keeneland’s Polytrack surface last time out.
Lilacs and Lace will break from post position two in Friday’s Kentucky Oaks.
“It worked for us in the Ashland so hopefully it will work for us in the Oaks,” said Terranova, whose filly registered a front-running victory at Keeneland from the No. 2 post. “One thing is we’ll be able to save ground around the first turn.”
Javier Castellano will be aboard the daughter of Flower Alley.
PLUM PRETTY – Peachtree Stable’s Plum Pretty returned to the track and galloped once around the main track under exercise rider Peter Hutton Wednesday morning, two days after working a half-mile in :48.80.
Trainer Bob Baffert said the filly is doing well.
Plum Pretty earned her trip to the Kentucky Oaks with a 25-length victory in the Sunland Oaks. She drew post 12 in the field of 13 and is 5-1 on the morning line for the Oaks. Baffert said that he would have preferred to be more to the inside, but said his filly will be in the thick of things.
“There’s a lot of speed in there,” he said. “Summer Soiree is going to go. You can’t grab her, so she’s going to be out there winging it. Believe me, we’re going to be, as Trevor Denman says, ‘breathing down her throat.’ ”
ST. JOHN’S RIVER – Dede McGehee’s St. John’s River galloped 1 ¾ miles during the Oaks-Derby training session, according to regular exercise rider Robert Wright.
“She was very comfortable,” Wright said. “She played a little bit coming home. We’re in good shape.
“We stopped on the frontside for a bit, just to let her stick her head over the rail, let the fans pet her and take pictures. She’s that kind of horse; you can do that. She loves it and they loved it.”
St. John’s River drew the outside post position No. 13 for Friday’s race and is 30-1 on the morning line. Trainer Andy Leggio Jr. elected to reunite St. John’s River with the only rider to have won a race on her, Rosie Napravnik, the third all-time leading money earner amongst female jockeys at only 23 with $29,182,443 (Julie Krone leads with $90,126,584 and Rosemary Homeister, currently on a maternity break from race riding, has $42,819,391).
SUAVE VOIR FAIRE – Fleur de Lis Racing LLC’s Suave Voir Faire got reacquainted with the Churchill Downs surface the morning after her arrival from the HighPointe Training Center in La Grange, Ky., galloping 1 ¼ miles during the Oaks-Derby training session under Sal Gonzalez Jr., who rode her in her first four starts.
“She got a little bit warm but she’s moving beautifully, changed leads everywhere I saw her change leads, so I was pleased,” trainer Speedy Smithwick said. “She ate up everything last night, and she can be a bit of a finicky eater. She did real well last night.”
Suave Voir Fare, one of the longest shots in the field at 50-1 on the morning line, will break from post No. 5 with jockey Miguel Mena. She is scheduled to school in the paddock before and during today’s fifth race.
SUMMER SOIREE – Team Valor International’s Summer Soiree galloped a mile and a half in front of the large crowd gathered on the backstretch to watch the Oaks and Derby horses train when the track reopened after the renovation break at 8:30 a.m.
Summer Soiree, a decisive winner of the Bourbonette Oaks (GIII), will start from post No. 3 in the Kentucky Oaks. She is 5-1 on the morning line.
ZAZU – Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Moss’ Zazu, a gray daughter of Tapit, got her first feel for the Churchill Downs racing strip early Wednesday morning with a gallop of a mile and one-half under exercise rider Jose Ferrer.
Trainer John Sadler oversaw the exercise and later in the morning pronounced all well.
“She shipped fine (Tuesday) and handled the track the same way today,” the Southern California-based conditioner said outside Barn 36.
Also at the track Wednesday morning was owner Jerry Moss, the record industry executive who had the racing world all aglow the past several years with the exploits of his marvelous mare Zenyatta. Joining him on the backstretch was his stable manager, Dottie Ingordo-Shirreffs, who is also the wife of trainer John Shirreffs, the man who conditioned the now-retired Zenyatta, a winner of four Eclipse Awards and the reigning Horse of the Year.
Zazu will be ridden by Southern California ace Joel Rosario break from post position six in the 13-horse Oaks field Friday.