- Road to the Kentucky Derby
- Racing & Wagering
Kentucky Oaks 138 Barn Notes
BELIEVE YOU CAN – Brereton Jones’ homebred Kentucky Oaks heroine Believe You Can came out of the race in great shape, trainer Larry Jones said while accepting congratulations at his barn early on Kentucky Derby Day.
“Boy, she’s wanting treats and she thinks she deserves some reward!” Jones said as his filly poked her head out of her stall. “She gets all kind of peppermints, carrots, sweet potatoes, you name it. Whatever she wants she’s pretty well going to get.
“She ate every bite of her supper so right now we’re good. She sure looks bright and happy.”
Believe You Can walked the shedrow at about 7:30 a.m. Her scheduled day to return to the track for light exercise is Tuesday.
“I’m going to be gone to New York but I might stick around here long enough to jog her and make sure everything’s OK,” Jones said. “But we’re not in a hurry now and we could walk her for a week if we need to.”
While Jones hasn’t penciled in anything for Believe You Can’s next start, he said it’s possible she could keep following the same path as his first Kentucky Oaks winner, Proud Spell, which has worked well to this point.
“We have been focusing on the Oaks all winter long,” Jones said. “This was the game plan and thank goodness we were able to follow our steps. We didn’t know that there was life after the Kentucky Oaks; we’ve got to go back and think now. I do know we could do like with Proud Spell and go back to the Mother Goose (GI, $300,000 at 1 1/16 miles on July 21), and the Alabama (GI, $600,000 at 1 ¼ miles on August 18) will be our primary goal for the summer. But we’re going to have to do something with her between now and then and we’ll let her tell us. We’re not going to get in a big hurry with her because she’s shown she races well fresh and distance isn’t a problem. But I would say the Mother Goose would be a primary target.”
Jones was effusive in his praise of Rosie Napravnik’s ride on Believe You Can, historic because she’s a woman but brilliant for her decisiveness.
“There was a lot of speed in the race and I just told her, ‘Rosie, on paper there’s a lot of speed but a lot of times when I’ve seen races with a lot of speed everybody’s afraid to go. So you’ve got to make up your mind when this thing opens and you see what everyone’s doing.’ I said, ‘You have my blessings on whatever you decide and I’m not going to second-guess you, honey. You’ve got to ride it and do what you got to do.’ When she saw that nobody was sending hard she let her get into the race and we saw it was the right choice.”
Jones already knew that if they made the lead at any point in the final quarter-mile of the Kentucky Oaks they’d have a big shot. Believe You Can’s tenaciousness had been on full display a month before when she gamely held off Summer Applause in the $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (GII).
“We carried fractions that day that should’ve made her lay down and say, ‘I’m done,’ but she wouldn’t,” Jones said. “I saw a horse with an iron constitution that day and I knew I had me another Proud Spell because Proud Spell refused to be passed down the lane. No horse in her career ever passed her down the lane and this horse here is trying to do the same thing. If you’re not in front of her turning for home you’re not finishing in front of her.”
Speaking of the Fair Grounds Oaks, the win by Believe You Can means five of the past eight Fair Grounds Oaks winners have gone on to win the Kentucky Oaks: Ashado (2004), Summerly (2005), Proud Spell (2008), Rachel Alexandra (2009) and Believe You Can. The race was not run in 2006, the year after Hurricane Katrina.
“There is no better place to prep,” Jones said. “What can you say? It works.”
Jones’ second Kentucky Oaks triumph reversed a spate of bad luck for his barn. Several familiar faces have gone missing in recent weeks and none has been more conspicuous in their absence than the trainer’s wife, Cindy Jones, who suffered three broken ribs, a broken arm and a dislocated shoulder when kicked by a yearling on the couple’s Arkansas farm. Cindy Jones was unable to attend the Kentucky Oaks.
“She’s going to try to get here, maybe, tomorrow afternoon,” Jones said. “She didn’t want to get into all the bumping and hugging. That can be painful for her.
“April was a tough month. On March 31 this filly won and apparently we used up our quota of good luck that month. On April 1, April Fool’s Day, Mark Valeski had his lost shoe fiasco (in the Louisiana Derby). A few days later Cindy gets hurt. Then Havre de Grace gets a career-ending injury. Then Robi Jo, who looked so good at Fair Grounds and who we thought we’d have a big shot with in the Edgewood, has to be retired due to a tendon injury.”
Then on Tuesday, they withdrew Mark Valeski from Kentucky Derby consideration.
“May’s turning around, though,” Jones said. “Maybe we’ll be OK.”
BROADWAY’S ALIBI – E. Paul Robsham Stables’ Broadway’s Alibi was doing fine Saturday morning after her second-place finish behind Believe You Can in Friday’s Kentucky Oaks (GI).
Stable manager Anna Ford reported that the 3-year-old daughter of Vindication will ship to Belmont Park on Sunday.
“We’ll take a couple weeks (before deciding on her next start),” Ford said. “We'll take our time. We’re not in any hurry.”
Although Broadway’s Alibi lost by three-quarters of a length after setting the pace, her connections were pleased with her effort under John Velazquez.
“Johnny said he could feel her struggling a little bit (with the track), which is amazing that she managed to do as good as she did,” Ford said.
GRACE HALL – The beaten favorite in Friday’s Kentucky Oaks, Grace Hall, came out of her third-place finish in good order, reported trainer Anthony Dutrow Saturday morning.
“She’s very good,” said Dutrow, whose filly will ship Sunday to Delaware Park or Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland.
Dutrow offered no excuses on the morning-after Grace Hall’s performance in which she closed from sixth under Javier Castellano to third without menacing 1-2 finishers, Believe You Can and Broadway’s Alibi.
“She just didn’t run fast enough,” he said. “I thought we got a dream trip and we were unable to run them down.”
Dutrow offered no immediate plans for Grace Hall, noting that the Alabama at Saratoga and the Cotillion at Parx as likely goals.
SUMMER APPLAUSE – Gillian Campbell, R Group Management and Greenwood Lodge Farm’s Summer Applause came out of her fourth-place effort in “perfect” condition, according to Mark Cornett, racing manager for the ownership group.
The Harlan’s Holiday filly likely will get about six weeks off before pointing for an undetermined race in June to set her up for late-summer tries in the Coaching Club American Oaks and the Alabama at Saratoga Race Course.
“Our next goal is to get her Grade I-placed, at least, or hopefully a Grade I win,” Cornett said. “Since she’s already a stakes winner it’s important to get that Grade I placing for that residual value.”
The Kentucky Oaks may sting a bit more, Cornett suggested, knowing that they beat the winner on the square two starts back. At the same time, that result bolsters Summer Applause’s reputation, who Cornett says has proven herself to be among the top 3-year-old fillies in the country.
“Broadway’s Alibi and Believe You Can really had it their own way on the front end, I thought,” Cornett said. “They were both sitting up there very relaxed and comfortable with their ears pricked. When Eden’s Moon didn’t break that really messed up the pace scenario. When you look back the only filly that really closed any ground was Summer Applause.”
ON FIRE BABY – Trainer Gary Hartlage said that Anita Cauley’s On Fire Baby came out of her fifth-place finish in Friday’s Kentucky Oaks (GI) in good order.
“We live to fight another day,” Hartlage said of the half-sister to High Heels, who had finished third in the 2007 Kentucky Oaks. “The hole was there, but she just didn’t fire.”
The next start for On Fire Baby, winner of the Pocahontas (GII) and Golden Rod (GII), is undetermined.
“We haven’t even thought about that yet,” Hartlage said.
HARD NOT TO LIKE – Aside from taking a lot of dirt during the running of Friday’s Kentucky Oaks, according to her trainer Gail Cox, Hard Not to Like exited the race in good shape. She left Churchill Downs Saturday at 5 a.m. aboard a van heading back to the trainer’s headquarters at Woodbine Race Course near Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
It was the filly’s first time to race on dirt.
“I went by the barn this morning to get her on the van,” Cox said, “and then I got ready to fly back home.”
As for Cox’s experience, she said, “It was just a wonderful experience. Everything was nice at the track.”
SACRISTY – Sacristy split the 14 Oaks fillies with a seventh-place finish, and came out of the race with no notable issues, reported Kelsey Danner, assistant to trainer Wayne Catalano.
“She came back fine and is doing good,” Danner said. “She got shuffled back farther than we thought in the Oaks, but she tried.”
Sacristy, a sprinter making her first route race, mildly rallied from last of 14. No immediate plans are set for what’s next.
AMIE’S DINI – Trainer Ron Moquett reported that his Oaks eighth-place finisher Amie’s Dini exited the race no worse for the wear.
“She came back happy and perfect, just tired,” Moquett said. “After that trip, let’s just say she knows what the outside rail looks like.”
Amie’s Dini was bumped at the start and raced wide throughout. No immediate goals were on tap, Moquett said, but Oklahoma-based co-owner Mike Walker indicated earlier in the week that one of the filly’s major goals this year will be the Remington Park Oaks, a race these connections won last year with Tourmaline.
AND WHY NOT – Helen K. Groves’ And Why Not was reported to be fine Saturday Morning following her ninth-place finish in Friday’s Kentucky Oaks (GI).
“She came out fine. She’s over there grazing. She ate up everything,” trainer Michael Matz said. “I was just hoping they would come back to her a little bit more, but they didn’t.”
Matz said he had no immediate stakes plans for And Why Not.
“We’re just going to pick the easiest spot we can find to build back her confidence,” said Matz, who was scheduled to saddle Union Rags for a start in the Kentucky Derby later in the day.
JEMIMA’S PEARL/EDEN’S MOON – Gillian Campbell, R Group Management Ltd. and Greenwood Lodge Farm’s Jemima’s Pearl (10th) and Kaleem Shah’s Eden’s Moon (14th) came out of the Kentucky Oaks in good shape, trainer Bob Baffert said Saturday morning.
“They look fine,” Baffert said. “They didn’t really run much. I’m really disappointed that they didn’t run.”
Baffert said the fillies will head back to California for a freshening.
COLONIAL EMPRESS – Trainer D. Wayne Lukas’ maiden filly exited the race in good order, the stable reported this morning. Lukas indicated that the Oaks would be the last stakes shot before dropping back into the maiden ranks and regrouping.
Colonial Empress finished 11th in the Oaks after pressing the pace from a wide draw and fading.
KARLOVY VARY – Jack Bohannan, assistant to trainer Rusty Arnold, said that Alex Campbell Jr.’s Karlovy Vary was doing well Saturday morning following her 12th-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks (GI).
“She ate a lot of mud yesterday,” Bohannan said. “I think we are going to keep her on turf or Polytrack. We learned a lesson yesterday.”
Karlovy Vary had entered the Oaks off a victory in the Central Bank Ashland (GI) at Keeneland over Polytrack.
“She had run such a big race over there that we had to try,” Bohannan said.
Arnold said Karlovy Vary would ship back to her main base at Keeneland on Monday and be pointed to the Arlington Oaks (GIII) at 1 1/8 miles on the turf on July 21.
“I am not saying we will not try her on the dirt again,” Arnold said. “But I can say it will not be in the near future.”
YARA – Peras International’s Yara appeared none the worse for wear while standing in her stall the morning after a dull 13th-place effort in the Kentucky Oaks.
“She came back perfect,” trainer Jose Garoffalo said. “She ate good today. The most important thing is that she came back perfect.”
The Davona Dale (GII) winner had a trip that was far from ideal. Her head was cocked when the gates sprung, she raced in the back of the field behind a pace that was softer than her connections had hoped, and she lost sight of the leaders through the stretch. Jesus Castanon did not persist with the filly once all hope was lost and they ultimately checked in 37 ¼ lengths behind Believe You Can.
“She doesn’t like the wet track too much and she took a bad step at the start,” Garoffalo said. “It was a bad trip.”
Garoffalo declined to speculate about where Yara might show up next, saying that he will continue to monitor her recovery from the Oaks while checking the condition books back in Florida.
Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN) also operates Trackside at Churchill Downs, which offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 5, 2012, and its Spring Meet is scheduled for April 28-July 1. The track has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships a record eight times. Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at www.churchilldowns.com.