- Road to the Kentucky Derby
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'Road to the Kentucky Oaks' begins with Pocahontas
The Grade 2, $150,000 Pocahontas for two-year-old fillies, one of four stakes on Saturday's "Downs After Dark" program, kicks off the "Road to the Kentucky Oaks" series that determines eligibility for the 140th running of the Kentucky Oaks on May 2, 2014. A field of eight will contest the 1 1/16-mile event on the main track.
As part of the "Prep Season" portion of the scoring system, the Pocahontas awards points on a 10-4-2-1 scale to the top four respective finishers.
All but three members of the field are exiting maiden wins, and Elena Strikes will be one of the favorites following a third in the Grade 3 Schuylerville at Saratoga. The Todd Pletcher-trained filly captured her career debut at Monmouth Park by 2 3/4 lengths two starts back and was making up ground late in the Schuylerville, finishing only 1 1/4 lengths back of dead-heat winners Bahnah and Brazen Persuasion. John Velazquez will be in to pilot the daughter of Smart Strike.
Nevada Deputy is also stakes-placed, recording a fast-finishing third in the Donnie Wilhite Memorial at Louisiana Downs on turf last month. Ricardo Santana Jr. picks up the mount of the Pollard's Vision filly for trainer Steve Asmussen.
Harlan's Special ran second in her previous two career tries and will try to break through with a first win in the Pocahontas.
Looking to advance off easy maiden scores are Stonetastic, who took her debut by 12 lengths at Monmouth Park, and Milam, a 3 3/4-length victress at Ellis Park. Stonetastic is conditioned by Kelly Breen and will keep Joe Bravo in the saddle, and Brian Hernandez Jr. retains the mount on Milam for Eddie Kenneally.
Asmussen is also responsible for Untapable, who will make her first appearance since capturing her first start on June 20 at Churchill Downs. Rosie Napravnik returns aboard the bay daughter of Tapit.
Rosalind exits a 2 1/2-length maiden triumph on the turf at Ellis Park, and Gulfstream maiden claiming winner Redheaded Witch completes the Pocahontas field.