Mamma Kimbo unexpectedly fired in a big way in her February 18 debut at Santa Anita, but it will be no great surprise if she replicates that fine showing in Wednesday's Grade 2, $300,000 Fantasy at Oaklawn Park. The 1 1/16-mile test for three-year-old fillies, a potential tune-up for the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, kicks off Oaklawn's annual Racing Festival of the South, which has been condensed this year into the final four days of the 2012 meet.
Following her fifth-place finish in the last week's Grade 2 Gulfstream Oaks, trainer Jose Garoffalo has indicated that Peras International's Grade 2-winning filly Yara is on target for a start in this year's running of the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks.
"That was the initial plan before her last race and we're going to stick to it," Garoffalo remarked Friday morning. "We're looking forward to running her in the Oaks; for now that's the plan."
Trainer Gary "Red Dog" Hartlage said Thursday morning that owner Anita Cauley wants a "fresh horse" for the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks May 4, so the decision has been made not to start their multiple Grade 2 winner On Fire Baby in either the Grade 2 Fantasy on April 11 or the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby on April 14. Both races had been under consideration since the Smoke Glacken filly won the Grade 3 Honeybee at Oaklawn on March 10.
Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Fillies victress Stephanie's Kitten returns to competition on Saturday when taking on six rivals in the Grade 1, $500,000 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland. The bay daughter of Kitten's Joy is seeking to become just the fifth filly to complete an Alcibiades-Ashland double after taking the former race in October during her juvenile campaign.
Brereton C. Jones' homebred Believe You Can took the lead on the backstretch of Saturday's Grade 2, $480,000 Fair Grounds Oaks and just held 4-5 favorite Summer Applause on the wire to score a head win under jockey Rosie Napravnik. Trained by Larry Jones, the Proud Citizen daughter was the 7-2 third pick in the five-filly field and gave back $9, $2.80 and $2.10 when finishing 1 1/16 miles on the fast Fair Grounds dirt in 1:43 4/5.
Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables and the Elkstone Group's Grace Hall reclaimed her winning attitude just in time to dominate Saturday's Grade 2, $300,000 Gulfstream Oaks under jockey Javier Castellano. The pair were forced to race three wide down the backstretch and swung wide into the lane before easily drawing off to a 6 1/2-length score on the wire.
Phil Daniels, Patsy London, John Winters and Terry Lovingier's Willa B Awesome was overlooked in Saturday's Grade 1, $300,000 Santa Anita Oaks while going against Eden's Moon and Reneesgotzip, but the Walther Solis trainee got the best of her rivals when gutting out a nose victory over the latter as the 13-1 third pick. Jockey Martin Pedroza guided the chestnut daughter of Awesome Gambler around the track, posting a final time of 1:42 2/5 for the 8 1/2-furlong distance on Santa Anita's fast dirt.
Eden's Moon thrust herself into Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks consideration with a scintillating 11 1/2-length maiden win on January 8, and solidified her position with a front-running victory while making her stakes debut next out in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes. On Saturday, the Bob Baffert-trained Malibu Moon daughter will face off against Las Virgenes second Reneesgotzip once again as the pair take part in the Grade 1, $300,000 Santa Anita Oaks in their final prep for the big dance.
Grace Hall was sent off the 4-5 choice to capture the Grade 2 Davona Dale in her seasonal bow on February 25, but an upset in the form of 64-1 longshot Yara just denied the Empire Maker filly from making a winning return. On Saturday, Grace Hall will be looking to exact revenge on her rival as the pair are entered in the Grade 2, $300,000 Gulfstream Oaks going nine furlongs.
Peachtree Stables and trainer Bob Baffert saddled Plum Pretty to an exhilarating 25-length victory in last year's Sunland Park Oaks prior to that filly's neck score in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks. History is on course to repeat itself as those same connections saw Princess Arabella make her stakes debut in the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks on Sunday and wire the field by eight lengths.
Grade 3 victress Summer Applause has been installed as the 8-5 morning-line choice for the Grade 2, $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks on Saturday over five rivals. The 1 1/16-mile contest is the New Orleans track's final leg of Fair Grounds' sophomore filly series that also serves as a prep for the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on May 4.
New York-born trainer Steve Margolis breezed Ballis's three-year-old filly Inny Minnie in 1:01 1/5 during training hours at Fair Grounds on Sunday and is now planning on running the Hard Spun filly in Saturday's Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks due to the late withdrawal of Avie's Sense.
Tall Oaks Farm's Avie's Sense, who was the early second choice for the Fair Grounds Oaks, was not entered Sunday for Fair Grounds' feminine fixture due to an unspecified setback, trainer Josie Carroll confirmed when reached by phone on her way to Florida.
Martha Washington Stakes winner Amie's Dini posted her first workout at Oaklawn since her game runner-up performance in the Grade 3 Honeybee Stakes on March 10 with an easy breeze Sunday.
Under jockey Jon Court, the daughter of Bandini was clocked going a half-mile in "49 3/5 for trainer Ron Moquett and owners Mike Walker and Lou Sutterfield.
"She's a happy girl right now," Moquett said. "This was just to let her know she's going in the right direction."
After showing some minor antics while being loaded into the starting gate for Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Bourbonette Oaks at Turfway Park, the Todd Pletcher-trained In Lingerie lulled her rivals to sleep en route to an easy six-length win in the one-mile Polytrack test. Sent to the front by John Velazquez, In Lingerie set tepid splits of :25 1/5, :49 and 1:13 4/5, and then opened up on the field in the final quarter-mile to finish up the distance in 1:38 1/5. She returned $3.60, $2.60 and $2.20 as the 4-5 favorite.
Trainer Michael Matz, who is preparing Union Rags to headline the Grade 1, $1 million Florida Derby on March 31, has a potential starter for the Grade 2, $300,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks on the same day in And Why Not.
"And Why Not may be running in the Oaks here or an allowance race the week after on the grass," Matz said. "But I definitely want to try and get her to the (Grade 1 Kentucky) Oaks. I think she's that type of filly and I think the distance would be perfect for her."
More Than Love could throw her hat into the Kentucky Oaks ring with a winning run in Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Bourbonette Oaks at Turfway Park. The John Terranova pupil will be getting blinkers added to help her chances in the one-mile Polytrack contest, which will be her first non-turf race.
The online voting process to determine who will march in this year’s Survivors Parade presented by Kroger on Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill Downs will close Friday at 5 p.m. ET. The 138 nominees who receive the most votes on www.KentuckyOaks.com will be invited to parade down the stretch of the historic Louisville racetrack’s main track before the 138th running of the $1 million Kentucky Oaks plus two (2) complimentary reserved seats to the May 4 event.
Princess Arabella heads a field of seven sophomore fillies in the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks at Sunland Park on Sunday.
Trained by Bob Baffert, who saddled subsequent Kentucky Oaks victress Plum Pretty to a 25-length romp last year, Princess Arabella has posted impressive victories in both career starts and will be making her stakes debut in the 1 1/16-mile test with regular rider Martin Garcia.
Grade 2-placed stakes winner Glinda the Good is the top challenger.
The perfect Kentucky Derby appetizer returns Thursday, May 3 as Churchill Downs stages its third annual Taste of Derby – a celebration of cuisine and racing on the eve of the Kentucky Oaks. Taste of Derby attendees will mingle with horse racing and Hollywood celebrities and savor exquisite cuisine and delectable wines from racing destinations across the country as nationally-renowned chefs serve samples of their regional specialties.
Anita Cauley's homebred On Fire Baby was sent off the 2-5 favorite in Saturday's Grade 3, $125,000 Honeybee Stakes at Oaklawn Park, but the gray miss had to work for the win as 3-1 second choice Amie's Dini refused to yield in the lane. It was only nearing the wire that On Fire Baby managed to pull away, posting a two-length victory under jockey Joe Johnson to return $2.80, $2.40 and $2.10 to her backers.