Racing News

Karlovy Vary sets sights on Oaks

  • Karlovy Vary (right) and Hard Not to Like could meet again at Churchill (Keeneland/Coady Photography)

Alex J. Campbell Jr.'s homebred Karlovy Vary was doing well on Sunday, the day after she scored a front-running win in the 75th running of the Grade 1 Ashland at odds of 15-1. Her next target is the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on May 4 at Churchill Downs.

"That's where she'll go as long as everything is good," trainer Rusty Arnold said.

The Ashland marked the first stakes win for Karlovy Vary, a daughter of Dynaformer who broke her maiden at Keeneland last October in the second start of her career. Campbell also raced the filly's dam, The Right Pew, a daughter of Pulpit, whose offspring can be a bit temperamental.

"She has her moments," Arnold said about Karlovy Vary. "She's got a little Pulpit in her, which is kind of a twofold situation. The Pulpits are great because they can run, but they can get a little wound up. She has those moments. Yesterday, she was very well behaved. I think that's what caused some of her problems at the end of her two-year-old year. She had not mentally grown up."

Not long after Karlovy Vary won an allowance race on the turf at Gulfstream Park on February 26 in her three-year-old debut, Arnold shipped her to Keeneland to give her plenty of time to settle in and train for the Ashland. Now the filly  will remain at Keeneland for about another two weeks before shipping to Churchill, where she will have about two weeks before the Kentucky Oaks.

"Her last two works will be at Churchill," Arnold said.

With the Ashland victory, Arnold scored his 239th career win at Keeneland. He is third behind D. Wayne Lukas (277 wins) and Bill Mott (245 wins) on the list of the track's all-time winningest trainers. He also added to his unique record at Keeneland, where he has saddled at least one winner at every meeting here since the spring of 1986, except for one season in the late 1980s when he did not saddle a starter.

Hillsbrook Farms' Ashland runner-up, Hard Not to Like, is scheduled to leave Keeneland on Monday morning for Woodbine, where trainer Gail Cox has a string of 24 horses.

"She ran really well," Cox said of Hard Not to Like's 2012 debut. "There is a chance she could come back for the (Kentucky) Oaks. We will go home and talk about it."

Hard Not to Like made her main track debut in the Ashland following five starts last year as two-year-old on grass.

"I thought she handled the Polytrack well," said Cox, whose filly wintered at Payson Park over the winter and trained on a dirt surface that she would encounter should she return for the Kentucky Oaks.

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