Taraz, Tonalist’s Shape remain unbeaten on Road to the Kentucky Oaks

Feb 01, 2020 J. Keeler Johnson/TwinSpires.com

It was a day for memorable performances on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks as two undefeated fillies easily extended their flawless records on Saturday.

At Oaklawn Park, Juddmonte Farms homebred Taraz was an authoritative winner of the $150,000 Martha Washington S. Trainer Brad Cox had previously hinted the daughter of Into Mischief could have Kentucky Derby (G1) aspirations, and Taraz did nothing to dispel those notions with her effortless triumph in her first try around two turns.

Despite breaking a step slowly under jockey Florent Geroux, the physically imposing Taraz recovered to lead the way through fractions of :23.44, :47.50, and 1:12.44. Racing eagerly with her ears pricked forward, Taraz briefly humored longshot O Seraphina around the far turn before kicking clear at the top of the lane. Under nothing more than a hand ride from Geroux, Taraz pulled away to prevail by 3 3/4 lengths as the 1-10 favorite.

Taraz clocked the mile distance in 1:38.64, a snappy time over the slow track at Oaklawn. O Seraphina, High On Gin, and Princesinha Julia trailed the compact field.

Undefeated and unchallenged in three starts, Taraz has earned 10 qualification points on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks. But whether she’ll even need those points remains to be seen. Having demonstrated her abundant ability against stakes company, there’s a chance Taraz will soon take a jaunt down the Road to the Kentucky Derby, an exciting proposition for racing fans everywhere.

Earlier at Gulfstream Park, Tonalist’s Shape struck in the $150,000 Forward Gal (G3). The daughter of 2014 Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Tonalist entered off three easy victories, including a runaway nine-length romp in the Hut Hut S. at Gulfstream.

Tonalist’s Shape was similarly impressive in the Forward Gal. With Eclipse Award-winning jockey Irad Ortiz in the saddle for the first time, Tonalist’s Shape settled into fourth position through a quick opening quarter-mile in :22.56. The pace remained testing around the far turn, with the half-mile elapsing in :45.48, but Tonalist’s Shape advanced steadily into the teeth of the quick second quarter and easily took command in the homestretch.

From there, the race was over. Ortiz never asked the 3-10 favorite for her best as she powered clear to score by 3 3/4 lengths over the pace-tracking Street of Dreams. Tonalist’s Shape completed the 7-furlong race in 1:24.77 while Nikki and Papa, Fujairah, Compensate, and New Day Dawning completed the order of finish.

“I got a perfect trip. She broke out of there a little slow, but she usually does that,” Ortiz told Gulfstream Park. “She worked her way up pretty quick and after that I just went with the flow. When I asked her turning for home, she really responded. She did everything right.”

Trained by Saffie Joseph, Tonalist’s Shape races for the partnership of Slam Dunk Racing, Doug Branham, and Legacy Ranch. With her victory in the Forward Gal, Tonalist’s Shape secured 10 qualification points toward the Kentucky Oaks.

“She did everything we asked,” said Joseph. “She was a further back in the beginning. I know cutting back, she doesn’t really want to be (sprinting) but it was the right way to get her where we need to get her. She did everything we asked and we can’t be more proud of her.

“She’s not flashy, but she’s going to do what she needs to do. I’m just glad to have her and thankful that the owners put her in our barn… All being well, we’ll go in the (Feb. 29) Davona Dale (G2) and the (March 28) Gulfstream Oaks (G2). That would be a good plan for her.”

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