The Road to the Kentucky Oaks continues on Saturday when nine sophomore fillies line up in the $125,000 Martha Washington Stakes at Oaklawn Park.
The one-mile contest may not be graded but is an important part of Oaklawn’s three-year-old filly preps to the May 5 Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs. The Martha Washington, worth 10-4-2-1 points to the respective top four finishers, also closes out the Prep Season portion of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series of points races.
Three of the nine runners on Saturday already boast a stakes credit on their resumes. Lovely Bernadette rallied for a half-length victory in the Rags to Riches Stakes last fall at Churchill before fading to fifth in the Golden Rod Stakes (G2) one month later in her most recent start.
Perfect Wife shows just three races thus far in her career and has captured two of them, including the Trapeze Stakes at Remington Park by five lengths on December 11. That earned the Kenny McPeek trainee a 93 BRIS Speed rating, just one point below Lovely Bernardette’s field-topping 94 figure for breaking her maiden in the mud at Churchill.
Both of those fillies will be making their sophomore bows in this spot, with Corey Lanerie retaining the mount on Perfect Wife and Chris Landeros tabbed by trainer James DiVito to ride Lovely Bernadette for the first time.
The only other stakes winner in the Martha Washington is Chanel’s Legacy, who actually owns two stakes scores. The first came in Remington Park’s E. L. Gaylord Memorial Stakes last October by 4 3/4 lengths. The Lynn Chleborad pupil was well-beaten when fourth in her next two tries in the Delta Downs Princess (G3) and Trapeze, but rebounded to capture her season opener in the Dixie Belle Stakes at Oaklawn by 2 1/2 lengths on January 21. Alex Birzer was aboard that day and will be holding the reins in this spot.
My Sweet Stella reputed herself well when rallying from well back to take second in the Dixie Belle. That six-furlong affair kicked off the D. Wayne Lukas charge’s three-year-old campaign and followed a well-beaten ninth in the Golden Rod last year. Carlos Marquez Jr. has the call.
Torrent was the runner-up in the Trapeze two back and returned January 20 to record a 2 1/4-length allowance/optional claiming victory over track and distance. The Ron Moquett trainee ranks first in BRIS Prime Power for this field and gets Ramon Vazquez in the irons.
Benner Island has been working up a storm since closing out her juvenile season with a 3 3/4-length win at Churchill going a mile in late November. Prior to that the Brad Cox-conditioned filly was second in the Arlington-Washington Lassie and seventh in the Alcibiades Stakes (G1). She’ll be getting first-time Lasix in this contest as well as Joe Rocco Jr. in the pilot’s seat.
Ever So Clever was a half-length second in Churchill’s Pocahontas Stakes (G2) and third in the Golden Rod last year. Queen Bernardina was no match for rivals in her past pair of starts. Tap of War completes the Martha Washington field off a 4 1/2-length maiden debut triumph at Prairie Meadows last July 23.