Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott's arsenal of three-year-old filly talent continued to get deeper Sunday at Gulfstream Park as Juddmonte Farm's Close Hatches passed her first distance test with flying colors drawing off to 1 1/4 length victory over Catalyst Stable and partners' Kimberly Jean in the 3RD race, 'a other than' allowance test going 1 1/16 miles under jockey Joel Rosario.
Kathleen Amaya and Raffaele Centofanti's Rose to Gold took command of the Grade 3, $150,000 Honeybee at Oaklawn Park on Saturday and turned back the pressing 2-5 favorite Flashy Gray to post a 2 3/4-length victory under jockey Calvin Borel. The Sal Santoro-trained daughter of Friends Lake set all the pace in the 1 1/16-mile contest before stopping the clock in 1:45 on the fast Oaklawn dirt.
Rose to Gold was sent off the even-money favorite in the February 9 Martha Washington at Oaklawn Park, but found herself passed in the stretch by 19-1 shot Sister Ginger, who would pull off the 2 3/4-length upset victory for trainer Steve Asmussen. On Saturday, those two fillies meet once again and Rose to Gold will try to turn the tables on her rival in the Grade 3, $150,000 Honeybee at the Hot Springs, Arkansas, oval.
Reigning 2-year-old filly champion and Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (Grade I) winner Beholder is joined by unbeaten two-time stakes winner Unlimited Budget and Hollywood Starlet (GI) winner Pure Fun atop a list of 120 nominations to the 139th running of the $1 million-guaranteed Kentucky Oaks (GI), America’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies, at Churchill Downs on Friday, May 3.
Flashy Gray, a winner of two of three career races for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott but untested in top level competition, emerged as a somewhat surprising fans’ choice over the “All Others” (#24) betting interest, reigning 2-year-old filly champion Beholder (#1) and unbeaten stakes winner Unlimited Budget (#23) when three days of betting concluded early Sunday evening in Churchill Downs’ 2013 Kentucky Oaks Future Wager (“KOFW”).
After two days of betting in Churchill Downs’ 2013 Kentucky Oaks Future Wager (“KOFW”), unbeaten Unlimited Budget (#23), reigning 2-year-old filly champion Beholder (#1) and the popular “All Others” (#24) wagering interest are atop a tightly-packed group that is battling to determine the betting favorite in the three-day betting pool that is set to close early Sunday evening..
Spendthrift Farm's Beholder proved to be fully recovered from a throat ulcer that was discovered after her runner-up effort in the Grade 2 Santa Ynez when wiring Saturday's Grade 1, $250,750 Las Virgenes at Santa Anita by 3 3/4 lengths under regular rider Garrett Gomez.
Despite missing by three parts of a length in her three-year-old bow on January 21, the wagering public didn't lose confidence in Beholder, sending her off the 4-5 favorite to return $3.60, $2.40 and $2.10.
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott does not have a victory in the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) among his vast collection of wins at Churchill Downs, but his impressive Flashy Gray (#9) is the early people’s choice to win America’s premiere race for 3-year-old fillies following the opening day of betting in the 2013 Kentucky Oaks Future Wager (“KOFW”).
Beaten narrowly by fellow Godolphin runners Music Chart and Lovely Pass, respectively, in her first two Carnival appearances, Shuruq exacted revenge in emphatic terms in Thursday's Group 3, $250,000 U.A.E. Oaks at Meydan. The Saeed bin Suroor filly relished the step up in trip to about 1 3/16 miles, and the addition of cheekpieces, to surge well clear of the Mahmood al Zarooni duo of Lovely Pass and Music Chart.
The top three from the January 26 Grade 3 Santa Ysabel and the top two from the January 21 Grade 2 Santa Ynez will join three others in the Santa Anita starting gate Saturday for the Grade 1, $250,000 Las Virgenes. The one-mile contest has drawn some of the top sophomore fillies on the West Coast and will be a chance at redemption for some and vindication for others.
Churchill Downs Racetrack’s only Kentucky Oaks Future Wager (“KOFW”) betting pool for 2013 features reigning 2-year-old filly champion Beholder; major stakes winners Dreaming of Julia, Executiveprivilege and Live Lively and an array of rising 3-year-old filly stars, but fans are expected to settle on the Mutuel Field (#24), also known as “All Others”, as the favorite in this week’s three-day betting pool.
Eclipse Award winner Beholder worked five furlongs on Santa Anita's fast main track Sunday in :59 3/5 under regular rider Garrett Gomez.
"Beautiful," Richard Mandella said of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner's work in preparation for Saturday's Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes at one mile.
Beholder was upset by 20-1 shot Renee's Titan in the Grade 2, 6 1/2-furlong Santa Ynez Stakes on January 21, losing by three-quarters of a length in her three-year-old debut, and the Henny Hughes filly will get a rematch on Saturday.
Repole Stable's Unlimited Budget moved her record to an unbeaten three-for-three on Saturday when capturing the Grade 3, $200,000 Rachel Alexandra at Fair Grounds by 3 3/4 lengths. Jockey Rosie Napravnik guided the Todd Pletcher trainee through the 1 1/16-mile contest in 1:45 1/5 on the fast main track, and Unlimited Budget paid $5, $3.60 and $3 as the 3-2 favorite in the 10-strong field.
Lee Lewis' Live Lively was making her stakes debut in Saturday's Grade 2, $245,000 Davona Dale at Gulfstream Park and proceeded to lead all the way home as the 2-1 second choice under jockey Joel Rosario. Trained by Mark Hennig, the Medaglia d'Oro filly set splits of :23 2/5, :46 3/5, 1:10 1/5 and 1:35 1/5 before finishing 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track in 1:42 1/5.
The early nomination deadline is fast approaching for owners and trainers who are pointing young racing stars in their care to the 139th running of the $1 million-guaranteed Kentucky Oaks (Grade I), America’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies on Friday, May 3 at Churchill Downs.
Only four fillies have signed on to challenge Grade 1 Frizette heroine Dreaming of Julia in Saturday's Grade 2, $250,000 Davona Dale on the Fountain of Youth undercard at Gulfstream Park. As with the Fountain of Youth for the Kentucky Derby hopefuls, the Davona Dale is part of the next stage on the new scoring system for the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, with the winner now receiving 50 points.
Unlimited Budget, who knocked out two wins in the span of 15 days last November, including the Grade 2 Demoiselle, will kick off her sophomore season in the Grade 3, $200,000 Rachel Alexandra on Saturday at Fair Grounds. The 1 1/16-mile test is a stepping stone to the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks.
Lee Lewis' three-year-old filly Live Lively was very impressive winning a seven-furlong allowance race at Gulfstream Park on New Year's Day by 11 1/4 lengths for trainer Mark Hennig and is on target to make her stakes debut and first start around two turns in the Grade 2 Davona Dale Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on February 23.
"It's a big test for her with the step up in class and first start going a distance," Hennig said Friday morning from Palm Meadows.
Trainer Tom Proctor confirmed Saturday from his wintertime base of operations in Southern California that he plans on shipping Midnight Ballet to New Orleans to contest the Grade 3 Rachel Alexandra on February 23 as part of the Louisiana Derby Preview Day, and also that newly unretired Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens would be coming to Fair Grounds for the mount on the filly.