Only two contests in the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series of points races are actually carded at the Kentucky Oaks (G1) distance of 1 1/8 miles, and the second of that pair will take place on Saturday.
Both nine-furlong events are run at Aqueduct, with the Demoiselle (G2) having been captured last November by Lewis Bay. That filly will enter the gate as part of a seven-filly field in the other 1 1/8-mile contest, the $300,000 Gazelle (G2) on Saturday, which will award 100-40-20-10 points toward a starting berth in the May 6 Kentucky Oaks.
Lewis Bay romped by six lengths to take her maiden prior to the Demoiselle, and returned on February 27 to be second in the Davona Dale (G2) at Gulfstream Park in her first foray outside of New York. The Chad Brown-trained daughter of Bernardini hasn’t exactly been burning up the track and faces a tough rival in Clair de Lune in the Gazelle. Regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr. returns to the saddle on Lewis Bay.
Clair de Lune will be piloted by Jose Ortiz for a third straight time on Saturday. Also trained by Brown, the Malibu Moon filly dropped her initial start over Aqueduct’s inner dirt on December 27 but returned February 11 to take a one-mile maiden on that track by 2 1/2 front-running lengths. Clair de Lune repeated that effort against allowance/optional claiming rivals on March 11, but scored by 6 1/2 lengths on that occasion. She’ll be making her stakes bow in this spot in her first try on Aqueduct’s main track.
Mo d’Amour was no match for Lewis Bay in the Demoiselle last year, finishing last after brushing the gate and being pinched back, but has come on this season in three starts. Following a well-beaten third in the Ruthless S. in mid-January, the Todd Pletcher charge romped by 4 1/4 lengths in an allowance/optional claimer going a mile at Laurel before switching back to Aqueduct’s inner dirt for a two-length victory in the February 27 Busher S. John Velazquez will be in the saddle for the first time on Saturday as Mo d’Amour attempts to duplicate her Busher effort.
Dreams to Reality and Flora Dora also both ran in the Busher after competing in the Busanda S. The former was fourth in the Busanda but rebounded to get her head in front for runner-up honors in the Busher. Flora Dora captured the Busanda but ran wide in the Busher and could only muster a fourth-placing on that day. Kendrick Carmouche will be in Dreams to Reality’s saddle while Junior Alvarado has the call aboard Flora Dora as the duo meet up again.
Behrnik’s Bank dominated her first two starts by a combined 31 lengths at Penn National last November for trainer Dimitrios Synnefias before switching to conditioner Peter Kazamias and just missing by a neck at Aqueduct in the Fifth Avenue division of the New York Stallion S. last out on December 20. The Bank Heist filly will be looking to prove herself against these while making her three-year-old bow under Edwin Gonzalez, who was aboard for those initial two efforts.
Royal Obsession completes the Gazelle field for trainer Steve Asmussen. The gray daughter of Tapit broke her maiden at Churchill Downs first out last November and wintered at Fair Grounds, where she added an allowance/optional claiming score to her resume before just missing when fourth by 1 3/4 lengths most recently in the Rachel Alexandra (G3) on February 20. Manuel Franco takes the mount on Royal Obsession for the first time in this spot.