R HEAT LIGHTNING (Trippi), a smashing 7 1/4-length winner of the February 26 Davona Dale S. (G2), tops a field of seven three-year-old fillies in Saturday's $300,000 Gulfstream Oaks (G2) at 1 1/8 miles. The Todd Pletcher pupil figures to be a strong favorite in her final tune-up for the Kentucky Oaks (G1) on May 6.
Robert and Lawana Low's regally-bred filly ARIENZA (Giant's Causeway) stamped herself a serious contender for the April 10 Fantasy S. (G2) with an impressive front-running victory in a one-mile allowance at Oaklawn Park on Sunday. The daughter of 2002 Horse of the Year and three-time Apple Blossom (G1) winner Azeri remained undefeated after two career starts, winning the 10TH race by 2 1/2 lengths over Hidatsa (Proud Citizen).
There could have been no double about who was best in Sunday's $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks, not after PLUM PRETTY (Medaglia d'Oro) asserted her dominance in the 1 1/16-mile test. All jockey Martin Garcia had to do was stay in the saddle as the bay lass drew off to a whopping 25-length victory as the 1-20 favorite.
Many were expecting Saturday's $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) to be the coming-out party for Rachel Alexandra S. (G3) runner-up Inglorious (Hennessy), but it was James M. Miller's DAISY DEVINE (Kafwain) who asserted her authority over the 1 1/16-mile contest.
Wahoo Partners LLC & Bret and Brereton C. Jones' SUMMER SOIREE (War Front) took the lead when the gates opened on Saturday's $100,000 Bourbonette Oaks (G3) at Turfway Park and never looked back en route to a dominating 10 3/4-length victory under Gabriel Saez. The bay filly was never challenged in the one-mile Polytrack test, posting splits of :24 4/5, :48 2/5, 1:12 3/5 and 1:25 2/5 before stopping the clock in 1:38 3/5 for trainer Larry Jones.
Last week was pretty light in terms of Kentucky Oaks (G1) preps, but this weekend more than makes up for it. With the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), Bourbonette Oaks (G3) and Sunland Park Oaks all scheduled, the Oaks trail is heating up again.
The Santa Paula S., which was downgraded from Grade 3 status this year, featured a field of six fillies last Sunday and turned into yet another easy win for the up-and-coming MILDLY OFFENSIVE (Sharp Humor).
SOUTH (Arkansas, Louisiana) / INGLORIOUS FAVORED IN FAIR GROUNDS OAKS AS KATHMANBLU PASSES – Carl Moore Management LLC’s Inglorious made an unexpected transition from major contender to morning line favorite for Saturday’s$500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (Grade II) when the connections of Kathmanbludecided to pass on the New Orleans race in favor of Keeneland’s Grade I Central Bank Ashland Stakes for her final prep for the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (GI).
With the defection of Rachel Alexandra S. (G3) winner Kathmanblu (Bluegrass Cat) to the April 9 Ashland S. (G1), INGLORIOUS (Hennessy) has become the top draw for Saturday's $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2). The bay lass finished well in the Rachel Alexandra to take second and could return to the winner's circle in Saturday's 1 1/16-mile test over the New Orleans oval.
A field of 11 three-year-old fillies was entered on Wednesday for Saturday's $100,000 Bourbonette Oaks (G3), the highlight of the Spiral S. (G2) undercard at Turfway Park, and the winner just may earn a spot in the starting gate for the May 6 Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs.
Now that winter has passed, it’s time to start planning for the springtime’s most extravagant and glamorous sports party: the Kentucky Derby.
The Kentucky Oaks (G1) lost a starter on March 5 following TURBULENT DESCENT's (Congrats) victory over ZAZU (Tapit) in the Santa Anita Oaks (G1). However, it's not the loser who has bowed out. Turbulent Descent's connections indicated that she would bypass the first Friday in May and instead point for a summer campaign in New York. Her main goals at this point appear to be the June 11 Acorn S. (G1) and August 6 Test S. (G1).
Trainer Steve Margolis will likely run both LITTLE MISS HOLLY (Maria's Mon) and SWITCHING GEARS (Tapit) in the March 26 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2).
The Margolis filly who might have been expected to take part, BOUQUET BOOTH (Flower Alley), will skip the Fair Grounds Oaks after finishing fourth in the February 19 Rachel Alexandra S. (G3). Bouquet Booth had previously won the Silverbulletday S. at Fair Grounds and the Delta Downs Princess S. (G3).
KENTUCKY OAKS FUTURE WAGER / POOL ENDS WITH KATHMANBLU AS SOLID FAVORITE – The single pool of Churchill Downs’ 2011 Kentucky Oaks Future Wager (“KOFW”) looked very much like a wide open affair heading into the three-day betting pool, but Five D Thoroughbreds and Wind River Stable’s Kathmanblu (#11) turned the race for the role of favorite in the pool into a runaway.
Fox Hill Farms' JOYFUL VICTORY (Tapit) was content to track behind the early pace in Saturday's $125,000 Honeybee S. (G3) at Oaklawn Park, but asserted her superiority in the stretch of the 1 1/16-mile test. Coming wide around the turn, the gray lass quickly took command and easily drew off to be 8 3/4 lengths clear on the wire while stopping the clock in 1:44 4/5 in her three-year-old bow.
Beverly Anderson and Edward Seltzer's WYOMIA (Vindication) settled off the pace through the early part of Saturday's $55,500 Suncoast S. at Tampa Bay Downs, angled in to split horses in midstretch, and just ran down Devilish Lady (Sweetsouthernsaint) by a head on the wire.
Local rider Frederic Lenclud picked up the mount on the Curtis Garrison trainee in the mile-and-40-yard test and guided Wyomia to finish up in 1:39 4/5 over the fast dirt.