A number of fillies have made their debuts on the Kentucky Oaks Leaderboard over the past couple of weeks. Here’s a rundown of the four Road to the Kentucky Oaks points contests that have taken place.
First up is the seven-furlong Forward Gal Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park, which was run Saturday, February 3. Take Charge Paula lived up to her 5-2 favoritism in the race for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.
The dark bay daughter of Take Charge Indy broke well from her 4 post and briefly led before Heavenhasmynikki slid up the inside to take over. Take Charge Paula bided her time outside that rival until rounding the final bend, when she drifted out widest of all. Easily taking over from there, the sophomore lass pulled away to score by 3 1/2 lengths under jockey Paco Lopez.
Take Charge Paula earned a nice win, and 93 BRIS Speed rating, in this spot. However, the real star was runner-up Sultry.
That Eddie Kenneally-trained filly raced near the rear of the field with Jose Ortiz aboard, appeared out of contention rounding the turn but suddenly angled out into the center of the track in the lane and rallied strongly while on the wrong lead to be second.
Sultry, already a stakes winner entering the Forward Gal, was awarded an 88 BRIS Speed figure. The Malibu Moon filly seems to be still learning and the biggest question is can she stretch out. Her past two tries didn’t produce good results – sixth-placings while going 1 1/16 miles in the Golden Rod Stakes (G2) and Pocahontas Stakes (G2) – but those came while the dark bay miss was a juvenile.
If Sultry continues to progress, she’ll be a force to be reckoned with.
One day after the Forward Gal and cross-country at Santa Anita Park, Dream Tree continued her success in the Las Virgenes Stakes (G2) going a mile.
The Bob Baffert pupil relaxed behind in third as Thirteen Squared and She’s No Drama led the way up front. Dream Tree was in no hurry on the backstretch, maintaining her pace while well out in the three path with jockey Drayden Van Dyke in the pilot’s seat.
After a little niggle from her jockey, the Uncle Mo filly easily reeled in the two front runners rounding the turn, took command entering the lane and pulled off for the 3 3/4-length score while merely shown the whip to keep her mind on task.
Dream Tree is now four-for-four in her career and was awarded a 91 BRIS Speed rating for her Las Virgenes win, tying the lowest she’s earned to date, which came in her maiden last October at Santa Anita. This is the first time she’s been back to the track, as she shipped to Del Mar to triumph in the Desi Arnaz Stakes and Los Alamitos for an easy win in the Starlet Stakes (G1) in her other two races.
That latter contest came at 1 1/16 miles, so the Kentucky-bred filly has already proven her ability to get a distance of ground. Currently sitting in second on the Leaderboard with 20 total points, Dream Tree will continue her quest for Kentucky Oaks glory in the Santa Anita Oaks (G1) on April 7.
A week later, two points contests, neither of which was graded, took place on Saturday, February 10.
Tampa Bay Downs’ Suncoast Stakes made its debut in the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series and saw C. S. Incharge deny even-money favorite Daisy for the three-quarter score.
Conditioned by Dale Romans and ridden by Joel Rosario, the Take Charge Indy lass tracked pacesetter So Refined throughout the mile-and-40-yard contest, took over in the lane and then held off Daisy’s late run to win.
C. S. Incharge was trying winners for the first time in this spot after wiring her maiden by 3 1/2 lengths over a sloppy, sealed track at Gulfstream Park on January 3. That was the bay filly’s fifth start, and she reputed herself well in the Suncoast but only earned an 82 BRIS Speed rating for her stakes bow. It was enough to get the win, and that’s what matters at the end of the day, but C. S. Incharge will have to improve if she hopes to keep up with the top contenders.
Daisy ran well in second while making her sophomore debut in the Suncoast after closing out 2017 with a fading fourth-place finish in the Demoiselle Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct. That followed the John Servis charge’s 4 3/4-length score in the Tempted Stakes (G3) going a mile over the same track. There is still time for progression from Daisy, who has yet to break out of the 80s in regards to BRIS Speed numbers.
Saturday also saw Oaklawn Park host the second in its four-race series for three-year-old fillies, the Martha Washington Stakes going a mile.
The contest lost a major contender when Amy’s Challenge skipped the race. Trained by Mac Robertson, the unbeaten miss beat boys in her first two starts, including a three-quarter length victory in Canterbury Park’s Shakopee Juvenile Stakes that netted the Artie Schiller lass a 105 BRIS Speed rating. She captured the Dixie Belle Stakes, the first in Oaklawn’s filly series, last out and is targeting the third race in that sequence, the March 10 Honeybee Stakes (G3).
Red Ruby took full advantage of the absence of Amy’s Challenge to pull off the 2 1/2-length victory under Robby Albarado. The gray daughter of Tiznow took up position on the rail in the five-filly field, backing up to be last entering the backstretch before picking up the pace and finding herself trapped down on the inside as first Secret Passion and then Sassy Sienna led the way.
Albarado kept Red Ruby running straight and true, and the filly followed Sassy Sienna as that one drew off rounding the turn. Angling to the outside of that rival, Red Ruby motored home over the sloppy, sealed track to take her stakes debut.
The Kellyn Gorder pupil broke her maiden last out on November 25 at Churchill Downs going 1 1/16 miles and garnered a nice 91 BRIS Speed figure for this toiling score. After the race, Gorder said the Honeybee is “the most logical spot” for Red Ruby, meaning the gray lass is now on course to face Amy’s Challenge.