- Road to the Kentucky Derby
- Racing & Wagering
Sign, Seaneen Girl likely to meet in Rachel Alexandra
The Road to the Fair Grounds Oaks kicks off in the $125,000 Silverbulletday Stakes on January 19, the same day that Derby hopefuls contest the Grade 3 Lecomte. The Silverbulletday is worth 17 points (10 for first, four for second, two for third, one for fourth) toward Kentucky Oaks qualification.
Below are the leading Fair Grounds fillies to watch, listed alphabetically, based on past performances, published works and interviews with horsemen. Inclusion on this list does not necessarily mean that the horse is known to be under consideration for upcoming Fair Grounds stakes.
BLUEEYESINTHEREIN (Garry Simms) – Magna Graduate filly is two-for-two, including a win in the Grade 3 Debutante Stakes at Churchill Downs in June. Had first work since July at Fair Grounds on Saturday.
"She worked her first three-eighths and did it beautifully," Simms said. "We just took it nice and easy, :37 and change, wouldn't blow out a match. She had a little tibia fracture in her left hind. No surgery, just time off. We turned her out, gave her time, and she's doing great. I'm not going to rush her, but she'll get ready quick. I've got a lot of bottom in her. I worked her three-eighths but she went out a half in :50-and-something and she looked like I just jogged her."
BROTHERHOOD SINGER (Simms) – Dehere filly was third as the even-money favorite in the December 22 overnight $60,000 Letellier Memorial going six furlongs. She was an easy entry-level allowance winner at Churchill Downs in November after fading to seventh in her stakes debut in the Grade 2 Pocahontas.
"I think she'll go long," Simms said. "I backed off of her because she'd run quite a bit. She just needed the (last) race. It won't be so easy for them next time, I promise you. She'll stretch it out. She's a good filly. She's possible (for the Silverbulletday). I would prefer to keep mine separate but if they're all ready, what do you do?"
CLOUDY IN SANDIEGO (Steve Margolis) – Filly from the deceased War Pass's second and final crop came back to convincingly win last Friday's two-turn entry-level allowance gate to wire after a disappointing ninth-place finish in the November 17 Grade 3 Delta Downs Princess Stakes. Was fourth in the October 27 Pocahontas at Churchill following an October 2 win at Hoosier.
"I think she still had a little more in the tank; it's not like she was all out," Margolis said. "She's always acted like she had some quality and we just have to see if she can go on to the next level now. The Silverbulletday is back in three weeks, so we'll have to see. I don't think that last race was real hard on her and if she missed this one, then we'd have to wait seven weeks."
ESTONIA (Neil Howard) – Flashy Bull filly won a December 1 two-turn entry-level allowance by three lengths, her second victory in three starts.
"This time of year, with a two-year-old that's won two races, if you don't run in the Silverbulletday there's nowhere else to run," Howard said. "We are, obviously, thinking about it. She's training fine. She's an improving filly but she still has a long way to go. We know it's going to be a tall order, but if everything's fine with her and it looks like a chance for her to pick up some black type…"
FINDING MORE (Kellyn Gorder) – Washington-bred Trickey Trevor filly has won three in a row, including an October entry-level allowance at Churchill Downs and the Letellier Memorial going six furlongs at Fair Grounds.
"I think we will see if she can go two turns," assistant trainer Evan Downing said. "It does sound like she has more sprint breeding, but she won going seven-eighths last time (October 28 at Churchill) so we'll probably try."
FLASHY CAMPAIGN (Tom Amoss) – Political Force filly easily won at first asking going six furlongs opening weekend, then finished second to Cloudy in Sandiego as the odds-on choice in her first try stretching out in last Friday's entry-level allowance in the slop.
"The idea was to break," Amoss said, "and I thought she'd be on the front end, but that's not how it went. We were disappointed and we'll regroup and try again. Chances are she'll run in the (Silverbulletday)."
GAL ABOUT TOWN (Bret Calhoun) – City Zip filly was second in both of Churchill's fall Grade 2 juvenile filly stakes, the Golden Rod at 1 1/16 miles and the Pocahontas at one mile. She broke her maiden in September at Monmouth Park and beat winners handily at Keeneland in October.
"We're shooting for the Silverbulletday for her next start," Calhoun said. "I thought she ran great in the Golden Rod. We were a little disappointed she didn't win, but she ran great so we're happy with that."
GIVMETHREESTEPSMR (Simms) – Magna Graduate filly won impressively first time out sprinting at Ellis Park in July. Has four published works at Fair Grounds in December and is up to five-eighths in preparation for her return to the races.
"She's a pretty special filly," Simms said. "She was a June 15 foal, but we ran her the one time and she came up a little funny. She's on the same timetable as Circle Unbroken; they've been workmates from the first three-eighths on. They're both push-button, really easy horses to train. We've got high hopes for her; I think she's a good filly but we'll have to see as the competition gets tougher. She's pretty close, too. (The Silverbulletday) is the one I'm kind of looking at, if I can make it. I think she's that good and she'll run all day."
MADAME CACTUS (Steve Asmussen) – Cactus Ridge filly broke her maiden by more than six lengths sprinting at Santa Anita and came back to win the My Trusty Cat at Delta by two. Finished fourth in the Delta Downs Princess as the favorite and returned to the track with an easy half-mile work at Fair Grounds on December 17.
"We sent her to the Fair Grounds and backed off on her for a little bit, tack-walked her and let her transition from a two-year-old to a three-year-old," owner Marc Ferrell of VinMar Farm said. "We have our eyes set on the Silverbulletday as her return race and that'll be the first step. She showed such a turn of foot in her first three races, to come up to that fourth one in that fashion was a little bit disappointing. But it all made sense in the final analysis; she got shuffled back to last and whatever could have gone wrong did. She's probably going to work in company on Wednesday."
MAGICAL MOON (Al Stall Jr.) – Malibu Moon filly broke her maiden on the Saratoga turf by more than 10 lengths and came back to run third in the Grade 1 Alcibiades over Keeneland's Polytrack. Has posted two easy three-furlong works, on December 24 and again on Sunday.
"She went to South Carolina just to hang around after the Alcibiades," Stall said. "She's a 'non-winners of two,' so we'll do that first and go from there. We'll get her back on the dirt, though, just to see if she likes it. She's trained so well on it we can't figure out why she ran like she did in her first race (a fifth at Churchill Downs in June)."
MELODY LADY (Asmussen) – Bred to be a champion by Unbridled's Song out of multiple Grade 1 winner and 2003 Fair Grounds Oaks heroine Lady Tak, the gray filly won a December 13 six-furlong maiden special weight by 2 3/4 lengths with little urging.
"In her first start she kind of faltered and stopped, which was a surprise to Steve and to us, but she ran big to break her maiden," co-owner John Sikura of Hill 'n' Dale Equine Holdings said. "Baby steps and we'll see where she takes us. It's early yet and all options are open. We'll leave it to Steve to find the next spot and hopefully she'll pass the next test. Lady Tak was a phenomenal race filly, world-class, and hopefully this filly will continue on and be black-type quality."
SEANEEN GIRL (Bernie Flint) – Spring at Last filly posted a 31-1 upset in the Golden Rod at Churchill Downs. Made her first five starts over Woodbine's Polytrack, including a runner-up finish in the Grade 3 Mazarine in October. Has four works over the Fair Grounds track in December.
"We're only going to run her two times here, and then she's going to the (Kentucky) Oaks," Flint said. "We'll probably wait for the one in February (the Grade 3 Rachel Alexandra on February 23). I don't want to use her too much. We've got enough points. I don't ask much of her now. She's rested, she's growing, she looks good and we just need her to keep going that way."
SIGN (Stall) – Pulpit filly is two-for-two, including a win in the Pocahontas at Churchill Downs. Hasn't worked since but is expected to make her highly anticipated 2013 debut in the Rachel Alexandra.
"She's back in training," Stall said. "We gave her some time off; she had one of those bone bruise deals in her hind ankle. We just gave her a little breather and we're starting her again. I guess she's still on schedule for the Rachel Alexandra."
SITTIN AT THE BAR (Brett Brinkman) – By Into Mischief, the top Louisiana-bred filly at the meet won the December 8 Louisiana Champions Day Lassie by eight lengths and added Monday's fillies' division of the restricted Louisiana Futurity. In November she finished third versus open company in the Delta Princess. Another easy win against state-bred company today could prompt the connections to consider one of the upcoming open stakes.
"She came out of that race (the Delta Princess) in good order," Brinkman said, "and we were undecided and then as we progressed along, she made us more confident. She is a classy filly."
SMITTEN (Larry Jones) – Tapit filly broke her maiden in a December 16 two-turn maiden special weight.
"We're going to nominate her (to the Silverbulletday)," Jones said, "and we'll see if an allowance race goes or not. It's so hard to get the allowance races to go. But I'm sure going to run her somewhere in January, the good Lord willing. I don't know if she's there yet, but I do think this filly could be a really nice horse."
TOUCH MAGIC (Pat Devereux) – Lion Heart filly just missed in the Delta Princess, finishing second by a half-length. Returned to South Florida following that start but is back in Louisiana at the Evangeline Training Center after being purchased privately by the Coteau Grove Farm of Keith and Ginger Myers.
"We nominated to the Silverbulletday and that's our plan, to go there next," Devereux said. "She's doing great. We hope she'll stretch out as the spring goes on, but she's a nice filly either way. She just hasn't done anything wrong. We vetted her out comprehensively and she scored well everywhere. She was just about the best available we could buy; we wanted a good filly turning three and she is one. I'm going to try to bring her to Fair Grounds to work her on Sunday (January 6)."