KATHMANBLU (Bluegrass Cat) was the big story over the past two weeks, but a couple of new shooters have popped up and could offer that one a real challenge come Kentucky Oaks Day. They'll have to move forward, but anything can happen in the two months leading up to the big day.
FLORIDA / DANCINGINHERDREAMS LOOKS TO REBOUND IN DAVONA DALE – John C. Oxley’s Dancinginherdreams suffered her first career defeat in her 2011 racing debut, but that has not deterred admirers who are expected to make the nearly white filly 3-year-old favorite in Saturday’s $250,000 Davona Dale (Grade (GII) at Florida’s Gulfstream Park.
HARLAN'S RUBY (Harlan's Holiday), the runner-up in the Alcibiades S. (G1) two starts back at Keeneland, will revert to Polytrack for her three-year-old debut in Saturday's $50,000 Valdale S. at Turfway Park. Only eighth when last seen in the November 5 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) on the dirt at Churchill Downs, the Ken McPeek trainee figures to enjoy the surface switch.
Under a pitch-perfect ride by master tactician Frankie Dettori, Godolphin's KHAWLAH (Cape Cross [Ire]) struck the front while prohibitive favorite Mahbooba (Galileo [Ire]) was still awaiting room, and the Saeed bin Suroor filly proved more than capable of springing the upset in Thursday's $250,000 U.A.E. Oaks (UAE-G3). Staying on powerfully for the length of the stretch, Khawlah fended off the prolonged challenge of Mahbooba by 1 1/4 lengths in a stakes-record 1:58 2/5 for about 1 3/16 miles on Meydan's Tapeta.
Continuing a commitment to new Kentucky Oaks Day traditions established two years ago, Churchill Downs Racetrack, the home of the world-famous Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks, and Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, the world’s largest breast cancer organization, have renewed their partnership to raise funds to aid in breast cancer awareness and research through events on Friday, May 6 – the day prior to the famed “Run for the Roses.”
POMEROYS PISTOL (Pomeroy) handed DANCINGINHERDREAMS (Tapit) a first career loss when holding that rival by three parts of a length in the January 30 Forward Gal S. (G2), and on Saturday will attempt to prove that victory was no aberration when going in the $250,000 Davona Dale S. (G2) back at Gulfstream Park.
Looking to derail her chances will be the returning Dancinginherdreams, third-placer EVIL QUEEN (Hear No Evil) and fourth-place R HEAT LIGHTNING (Trippi), along with five newcomers.
This week's 2011 Dubai International Racing Carnival meeting will feature a seven-race, all Thoroughbred, card highlighted by the 10th running of the UAE Oaks (UAE-G3) on Thursday.
Five D Thoroughbreds and Wind River Stables' KATHMANBLU (Bluegrass Cat) was touted as the filly to beat in Saturday's $147,000 Rachel Alexandra S. (G3) at Fair Grounds, and didn't disappoint her numerous backers when pulling off the 1 1/4-length victory under jockey Julien Leparoux.
One of the unintended consequences of this weekend's soaking rainstorm forecast for Southern California is that Monday's $100,000 La Habra S. (G3) has the potential to develop into a prep for the Kentucky Oaks (G1). Scheduled for about 6 1/2 furlongs on the turf, the La Habra might have to be moved to the main track if the turf does not dry out sufficiently.
Seven three-year-old fillies will do battle in Saturday's $150,000 Rachel Alexandra S. (G3) at 1 1/16 miles, a tune-up for next month's Fair Grounds Oaks (G2). Renamed this season from the Silverbulletday to honor the 2009 Horse of the Year, the race is lead by Grade 2 vixen KATHMANBLU (Bluegrass Cat), who stole some of the colt Santiva's (Giant's Causeway) thunder at Churchill on November 27 with an 8 1/2-length romp in the Golden Rod.
Drs KK and Vilasini Devi Jayarman's homebred HOLY HEAVENS (Holy Bull) came three-wide into the stretch of Saturday's $75,000 Martha Washington S. at Oaklawn Park and pulled out a one-length victory on the wire. With Israel Ocampo aboard, the Benard Chatters pupil dueled late with leader Scarlet Mist (Pure Prize) and just got the best of that rival when completing the mile test on the fast dirt in 1:42 4/5.
Augustin Stable's DYNAMIC HOLIDAY (Harlan's Holiday) had to make her way through a full field in Saturday's $105,000 Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs, which was being run on turf for the first time in the race's 28 year history, but veteran reinsman Ramon Dominguez never flinched as the bay lass split horses en route to a 1 3/4-length victory.
Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) champion Awesome Feather (Awesome of Course) is out of Kentucky Oaks (G1) consideration at this point with tendon issues. Her racing future was very much in doubt for a time, but recent news offers hope the talented bay could return to the track.
Nine sophomore fillies have been assembled for Saturday's $75,000 Martha Washington S. at Oaklawn Park, and a couple of top contenders, GRANDACIOUS (Grand Slam) and SUMMER SOIREE (War Front), will be seeking their first stakes victory in the one-mile event.
At Fair Grounds on Saturday, Winchell Thoroughbreds' WICKED DEED (Harlan's Holiday) survived an early pace scramble in the $56,400 Tiffany Lass S. and proceeded to romp by an impressive 5 1/4 lengths in her stakes debut for Steve Asmussen.
With Anna Napravnik aboard, the 7-5 second choice mixed it up between rivals in the four-filly field, gained a slim advantage, and poured it on down the stretch to win convincingly.
Flash Mash (Smarty Jones), the 4-5 favorite, was parked out wide in fourth throughout, but managed to get up by a nose for runner-up honors.
Saturday was already going to be a big day for Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Moss at Santa Anita, for they were to accept the inaugural Secretariat Vox Populi Award on behalf of their retired fan-favorite Zenyatta. The popular owners took the spotlight a little earlier than expected, however, with another "Z" -- ZAZU (Tapit) -- who ironically ended the unbeaten run of 2-5 favorite Turbulent Descent (Congrats) in the $250,000 Las Virgenes S. (G1).
TURBULENT DESCENT (Congrats) puts her undefeated mark on the line Saturday while taking on six rivals in the one-mile Las Virgenes S. (G1) at Santa Anita. The Mike Puype trainee broke her maiden at the Oak Tree meet run at Hollywood Park, then remained at that venue to add the Moccasin S. and Hollywood Starlet S. (G1) to her resume. The bay lass is trying a conventional dirt track for the first time in the Las Virgenes, and retains the services of regular David Flores for her sophomore bow.