The Kentucky Oaks (G1) is fast approaching, and this week will be the final Report before the race. I'll finish my analysis of the runners, starting with the bottom five of my Top 10 list and continuing with the rest of the prospective field, including recent defectors.
Thanks to a special partnership among three groups associated with the “Ladies First” theme of Kentucky Oaks Day, a select number of one-day only tickets for Friday, May 6 in Section 125 were put on sale for $74 on Wednesday afternoon. The tickets are available exclusively online on a first-come, first-serve basis at www.churchilldowns.com/oaksonly.
ARIENZA –Robert and Lawana Low’s regally bred Arienza galloped a mile before the renovation break under exercise rider Eva Jansson for trainer Dan Peitz.
Peitz, who also is considering the $100,000 Eight Belles (GIII) to be run May 6 for Arienza, said the daughter of 2002 Horse of the Year Azeri by Giant’s Causeway probably would work again on Friday. Arienza worked a half-mile in :49.40 here last Friday.
Two fillies likely to be among the top betting choices for the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (GI) -- E. Paul Robsham’s R Heat Lightning, winner of the Gulfstream Oaks (GII) and the likely Kentucky Oaks favorite, and Five D Thoroughbreds and Wind River Stables’ Golden Rod (GII) and Rachel Alexandra (GIII) winner Kathmanblu – braved a steady rain and sloppy track conditions just after the track maintenance break for Saturday workouts at Churchill Downs.
The prospect of an overflow field for the 137th and richest running of the Kentucky Oaks (G1) appeared more likely on Friday when the names of Fleur De Lis Stable's SUAVE VOIR FAIRE (Suave) and Palides Investment's ROYAL DELTA (Empire Maker) were added to the list of possible contenders.
Suave Voir Faire breezed five furlongs in 1:02 1/5 on Friday at Highpointe Training Center in LaGrange, Kentucky, and trainer Daniel "Speedy" Smithwick Jr., who is among the co-owners of the dark bay, said she would likely be entered in the Oaks.
Since 2000, only four winners of the Kentucky Oaks (G1) were not named champion three-year-old filly. That puts the odds squarely on the side of this year's winner to be honored with an Eclipse at the end of the year, but first the race needs to be run. Just two weeks remain until we find out who will be crowned Queen of the Lilies.
The final prep for the Kentucky Oaks was run last Sunday, if one can even call it a prep. No one in the about seven-furlong Beaumont S. (G2) is expected to line up in the nine-furlong Oaks, but I'll give a brief recap of the race anyway.
Jess Stonestreet Jackson, a pioneering architect of the ascendant American wine industry, and more recently famed as the owner of Horses of the Year Curlin and Rachel Alexandra, died Thursday at his Geyserville, California, home after a long and courageous battle with cancer. He was 81.
The proprietor of Kendall-Jackson winery, Jackson campaigned his horses under the banner of Stonestreet Stables. Those silks are due to be carried by former Kentucky Derby (G1) hopeful ASTROLOGY (A.P. Indy) in Saturday's Jerome H. (G2) at Aqueduct.
EAST (Maryland, New York) / POSSIBLE OAKS FAVORITE R HEAT LIGHTNING SHARP IN FINAL NEW YORK WORK, HEADS TO CHURCHILL DOWNS ON MONDAY – E. Paul Robsham Stables’ R Heat Lightning, the possible favorite for the 137th and richest running of the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) on May 6 at Churchill Downs, turned heads with a “bullet” half-mile work on Saturday at Belmont Park.
Three new shooters have added their names to the Kentucky Oaks (G1) after the late nomination period closed on Wednesday. ARIENZA (Giant's Causeway), ST. JOHN'S RIVER (Include) and STREET STORM (Stormy Atlantic) were all made eligible to run on the first Friday in May after their connections paid the $1,500 fee.
A trio of 3-year-old fillies headed by Robert and Lawana Low’s Arienza, runner-up to Joyful Victory in Oaklawn Park’s Fantasy (Grade II), and Dede McGehee’s Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) runner-up St. John’s River make up the roster of late nominees that are now eligible to compete in the 137th running of the $1 million guaranteed Kentucky Oaks (GI) on Friday, May 6 at Churchill Downs.
MIDWEST (Illinois, Kentucky) / GRADE I WINNERS TURBULENT DESCENT, TELL A KELLY RETURN SUNDAY IN KEENELAND’S BEAUMONT – Sunday’s $150,000 Beaumont Stakes (Grade II) at Keeneland attracted a power-packed field of six 3-year-old fillies headed by Grade I winners Turbulent Descent and Tell a Kelly, but the race is not expected to generate any starters for the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) at Churchill Downs.
Wednesday, April 13 is the deadline for the first late nominations to Churchill Downs’ 137th running of the $1 million guaranteed Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) and the 25th running of the $500,000-added Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI).
MIDWEST (Illinois, Kentucky) / CALIFORNIA EXPORT LILACS AND LACE STUNS ASHLAND FIELD AT 48-1 – Lilacs and Lace, dismissed at odds of 48-1 despite stakes success in Northern California, led most of the way and held off Wyomia in the stretch to score a major upset in Keeneland’s 74th running of the $400,000 Central Bank Ashland Stakes (Grade I) and earned a start in Churchill Downs’ $1 million Kentucky Oaks (GI).
Fox Hill Farm's JOYFUL VICTORY (Tapit) patiently bided her time in third on the backstretch of Sunday's $285,000 Fantasy S. (G2) at Oaklawn Park, put in a three-wide rally rounding the turn and easily drew off from the highly regarded Arienza (Giant's Causeway) to take her second straight graded contest for trainer Larry Jones. With Mike Smith aboard, the gray dynamo cruised under the wire seven lengths the best while finishing 1 1/16 miles in 1:44 3/5 over the fast dirt.