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Kentucky Oaks 137 Barn Notes
PLUM PRETTY – Assistant trainer Jim Barnes reported that Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty came back “super good” from her impressive score in Friday’s $1 million Kentucky Oaks. The Medaglia d’Oro filly got a perfect trip for rider Martin Garcia, fired well clear at the head of the lane, then had enough in the tank to hold off the fast-closing St. John’s River by a neck.
Future plans for Plum Pretty – who picked up a first prize of $570,400 after covering nine furlongs in 1:49.50 – had yet to be made.
“Bob (trainer Bob Baffert) will be making that call at some point soon,” Barnes said. A return to the trainer’s Southern California headquarters led the list of likely guesses.
ST. JOHN’S RIVER – Dede McGehee’s homebred St. John’s River was bucking and playing in her stall Saturday morning, looking nothing like one would expect from a filly who passed every horse but one while weaving through the field in a million-dollar race.
“Look at her,” trainer Andy Leggio Jr. said at Barn 43 as St. John’s River watched another horse walking around the barn. “She’s peeved that’s not her out there doing that. She’s in great shape.”
St. John’s River came within a neck of catching winner Plum Pretty, thanks in large part to a heady rail trip under 23-year-old jockey Rosie Napravnik that drew comparisons to vintage Calvin Borel.
“She gave her a great ride,” Leggio said. “When she cut that corner turning for home I thought, we’re going to win this race. But we just couldn’t get there.”
With a better start St. John’s River very well could have won the race, but she spotted the field a few lengths by breaking to the right from her outside post.
“I think it was because she went in last and they rang the bell before she got settled,” Leggio said. “She went out a little bit and that probably cost her a length just getting her straight. I think if she breaks straight she wins by two or three lengths, but that’s racing and that goes with the territory.”
Leggio spent 90 minutes in traffic after the Oaks as he tried to get from the grandstand back to Barn 43. By the time he made it he was ready to share his thoughts on what the rest of this year could hold for St. John’s River.
“I wanted to get through this one first but now that this race is over and I know the kind of horse she is I’m thinking Breeders’ Cup and I’m going to try to keep her happy and healthy until that race.
The 2011 Breeders’ Cup World Championships will return to Churchill Downs for the second consecutive year and a record eighth time overall on Nov. 4-5.
“That’s the time of the year when they run against older horses. Once you get to September, October, November, it’s no problem. We’ll run her in a little race here and there but we want to make it easy on her until the big race comes along.”
St. John’s River will leave Louisville by van late Sunday afternoon for Leggio’s summer base at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La.
“She’ll get two weeks of just walking and she’ll probably get six weeks off,” Leggio said.
ZAZU – Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Moss’ racy gray filly Zazu stood tall in her Barn 36 stall Saturday morning following her third-place run in Friday’s $1 million Kentucky Oaks. She looked none-the-worse-for-wear for an effort in which she finished less than three lengths behind winner Plum Pretty.
“She’s doing fine,” said Caesar Aguilar, assistant to trainer John Sadler. “No problems.”
Sadler had grabbed an early morning flight back to his Southern California base at Hollywood Park. The filly would follow him Sunday morning.
“She’s on a flight tomorrow morning,” Aguilar said. “We’ll be back in California tomorrow night.”
JOYFUL VICTORY – “Well, we didn’t have a joyful victory, we had a joyful fourth-place finish,” trainer Larry Jones said Saturday morning. “We changed her name.”
Fox Hill Farms’ Joyful Victory was reported to be doing well by Jones the morning after she finished fourth in the Kentucky Oaks and suffered her first defeat in three 2011 starts.
Jones said Joyful Victory would leave for Delaware Park on Sunday to join the rest of Jones’ stable.
“She might go to New York for the Mother Goose (a Grade I, $250,000 race at 1 1/16 miles on June 25) or stay at Delaware for the Delaware Oaks (a $300,000 Grade II race at 1 1/16 miles on July 9).”
BOUQUET BOOTH/STREET STORM – Right Time Racing’s Kentucky Oaks duo of Bouquet Booth and Street Storm came out of their fifth- and eighth-place showings in Friday’s $1 million race in good order according to trainer Steve Margolis.
“I was happy with both of them,” Margolis said. “Bouquet Booth, I thought she had a shot in the stretch and then she flattened out. She only got beat a nose and a half-length for third and she beat some nice horses.
“Street Storm didn’t like the kick back, but she passed four of five horses. She may come back in the Regret (a $125,000 Grade III race at 1 1/16 miles on the turf here June 18) and Bouquet Booth maybe in the Dogwood (a $100,000 Grade III race at a mile on the main track on June 4).”
KATHMANBLU – Trainer Ken McPeek's filly Kathmanblu had a rough go in the Kentucky Oaks on Friday, a race in which she finished sixth, beaten 10 lengths, and exit with some abrasions. Sent off as the third wagering choice at 4-1, Kathmanblu failed to deliver on her victory in last fall's Golden Rod (GII) at Churchill Downs.
“She came out of the race with some cuts, nicks and scratches," McPeek said Saturday morning. "She got beat up a little in the race. Nothing major, but it's somewhat disappointing how she ran.”
The Oaks may or may not be her only stakes engagement of the 2011 Spring Meet.
“We'll regroup with her and look at either the Regret if she's doing well enough or give her some time off,” McPeek said.
The Regret (GIII), for 3-year-old fillies at a mile and an eighth on turf, is scheduled for June 18.
DAISY DEVINE – James M. Miller’s Daisy Devine came back from her seventh-place run in the Oaks in good order and with no excuses following a clean stalking trip that had the Kafwain filly in striking position.
“I might’ve had her a little flat,” trainer Andrew McKeever said while searching for answers Derby morning. “She seemed to be pretty good going into the race. I don’t think she could’ve won but I think she’s better than what she ran.”
Daisy Devine will van to Keeneland on Sunday and will get a short break in Bluegrass country.
“I’ll send her back to Gerry Sheridan’s farm for two weeks,” McKeever said. “She was turned out there last year. I’ll just give here two weeks off and she won’t miss anything; you could run her a week after that if you wanted to. She’ll get two weeks just to chill out, get some good grass and some good weather before it gets really hot.”
McKeever has not pinpointed any specific races for Daisy Devine to run in this summer but said they’ll “spot her around the country and try to pick up money with her.”
SUAVE VOIR FAIRE – Fleur de Lis Racing LLC’s Suave Voir Faire ran evenly throughout the Oaks to finish ninth as the longest shot in the field.
“She took what appeared to be a bit of a funny step at the three-eighths pole,” trainer Speedy Smithwick said. “After that she never came back on down the lane.”
Plans for Suave Voir Fare remain undetermined.
“She’ll live to battle another day,” Smithwick said.
SUMMER SOIREE – Team Valor International’s Summer Soiree came out of her 10th-place Oaks finish in good order according to trainer Graham Motion.
Motion said the filly would go to Fair Hill training center in Maryland where Motion maintains the bulk of his stable and “likely point to some grass races, which we feel that is where her future is.”
Summer Soiree led the field through the first six furlongs before she was overtaken by Plum Pretty.
“She got bumped leaving the gate and the rest is history,” Motion said of Summer Soiree who took the field through early fractions of :23.65 and :46.99. “We had hoped to get away from there easy.”
HER SMILE – Celebrity chef Bobby Flay’s last-minute acquisition returned from her run in Friday’s $1 million Kentucky Oaks in good order and was spending a quiet morning at trainer Todd Pletcher’s Barn 34.
“She came back fine,” assistant trainer Mike McCarthy said on a clear Kentucky morning leading up to Kentucky Derby 137. “We might have been a little ambitious yesterday, but sometimes you’ve just got to give it a try.”
Her Smile finished 11th of 13 in the nine-furlong classic after being purchased privately by Flay with a run in the Oaks in mind.
Final shipping plans for the Pletcher barn – including Her Smile, Kentucky Derby runner Stay Thirsty and late Derby withdrawal Uncle Mo – were scheduled to be made Tuesday. A return to New York appeared to be most likely for Her Smile.
LILACS AND LACE – Reynaldo Abreu, assistant to trainer John Terranova, pronounced Lilacs and Lace to be “sound and bright” Saturday morning. The 3-year-old filly finished 12th after stalking the pace into the stretch in Friday’s Kentucky Oaks.
“She came out of the race fine. We just feel like she didn’t handle the track,” Abreu said. “That’s not her best surface that’s for sure. She was cooled out in a half hour.”
The Central Bank Ashland Stakes (GI) winner will be given a few weeks off before being returned to serious training.
HOLY HEAVENS – Drs. K.K. & Vilasini Jayaraman’s Holy Heavens was outrun early in the Kentucky Oaks and lost any chance of significantly improving her position when she was fanned seven-wide into the stretch. The Holy Bull filly checked in last of 13.
“She was six-wide on the first turn, too,” trainer Benard Chatters said Saturday morning. “She still kind of put herself into position but you can’t go that wide around both turns in a race like this. I’m not disappointed in my filly; she just had a terrible trip.”
The Holy Bull filly will remain in Kentucky with Chatters, either at Churchill Downs or the Trackside Training Center.
“I’ll look for a ‘non-three’ for her,” Chatters said, referring to one of the allowance conditions she remains eligible for.