To set the stage for his press conference Sunday morning to reflect on this fourth victory, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert brought the star of the 141st Kentucky Derby -- American Pharoah -- out of the barn to pose for the cameras.
It was a record-breaking 141st running of the $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) at Churchill Downs Racetrack which culminated as 123,763 fans, the highest attendance of all time, watched a memorable win by Lovely Maria. The prior attendance record was 116,046, set in 2010, during the 136th running of the Kentucky Oaks.
Larry Jones, trainer of Lovely Maria (winner)/I’m a Chatterbox (third) – “She did good. She sure did. Very similar going into the Keeneland race. She's a filly just doing good. She worked so well here. I knew she didn't have to carry her track with her. Chatterbox came closing. She came closing. She got squeezed back a little bit early, but she came closing. ... Third in the Kentucky Oaks. We can live with that.''
Kerwin Clark, jockey of Lovely Maria, winner – “I’ve been riding for 40 years and I won my first Grade I last month at Keeneland (in the Ashland) with this horse. Then we won this race today. I am very blessed. Blessed to have this horse; to have (trainer) Larry Jones in my life and believing in me, and to have Mr. (Brereton) Jones believe in me and stick with me.”
Robert Luttrell’s homebred Promise Me Silver kept her record perfect with an eighth straight victory in taking the 60th running of the $200,000 Eight Belles (GIII) Presented by Twinspires.com for 3-year-old fillies.
Lovely Maria (Majesticperfection) played second fiddle to stablemate I’m a Chatterbox (Munnings) all winter long, but trainer Larry Jones kept reporting that the bay lass was improving every day.
On Friday, the three-year-old miss lived up to her conditioner’s faith when taking the 141st running of the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs under jockey Kerwin Clark.
Sumaya U.S. Stables’ Protonico, passed in the stretch by Noble Bird, battled back on the inside to post a head victory in the 12th running of the $400,000 Alysheba (GII) Presented by Big Fish Games.
Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by John Velazquez, Protonico covered the 1 1/16 miles on a fast main track in 1:42.34.