Venus Valentine will get the opportunity to prove her 74-1 upset in the February 20 Rachel Alexandra (G2) was no fluke when lining up as part of an eight-strong field in Saturday’s $400,000 TwinSpires.com Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) going 1 1/16 miles.
The race is part of the Championship series of events on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks and is the first to offer up 100-40-20-10 points to the respective top four finishers.
Venus Valentine jumped from nowhere to fourth on the Kentucky Oaks (G1) leaderboard with her Rachel Alexandra victory and faces not only returning foes from that contest but also some invaders from the West Coast. Corey Lanerie was aboard when the Tom Amoss trainee earned her first stakes win in the Rachel Alexandra and retains the mount on Saturday.
Midnight on Oconee has finished second in both the Rachel Alexandra and Silverbulletday S. at Fair Grounds thus far in 2016. The Larry Jones pupil had the lead in the stretch of the former event but couldn’t withstand Venus Valentine’s rally up the rail. The dark bay miss visibly looked tired in the final strides and barley held second. She’ll be reunited with James Graham in the Fair Grounds Oaks.
Stageplay appeared to shy away from Midnight on Oconee just as the pair entered the stretch about six wide. The Silverbulletday winner continued to fade throughout the lane and eventually crossed under the wire in fifth. She’ll attempt to rebound in this spot for trainer Steve Asmussen under Florent Geroux.
Street Fancy and Land Over Sea are both shipping in from California having already faced off in the February 6 Las Virgenes (G2). Street Fancy was a well-beaten sixth that day, which followed a win in the Starlet (G1) at Los Alamitos. Land Over Sea finished second in the Las Virgenes to Songbird and filled that same spot last out in the Santa Ysabel (G3) on March 5.
In fact, Saturday’s outing in the Fair Grounds Oaks will be the first time since she broke her maiden last July that Land Over Sea hasn’t faced Songbird. That might see the chestnut lass finally return to the winner’s circle with new rider John Velazquez in the irons. Street Fancy also gets a new jockey in Jose Lezcano.
Adore is a wild card in the Fair Grounds Oaks. The Asmussen charge is making her stakes bow after breaking her maiden by 1 3/4 lengths and taking an allowance/optional claimer by four lengths thus far this season at Oaklawn Park. Julien Leparoux has the call.
Completing the Fair Grounds Oaks field are Northwest Tale, fifth in the Silverbulletday but easy winner of an allowance/optional claimer one race later, and Dream Dance, who will be making her 2016 debut after finishing third (placed ninth via disqualification) in the Golden Rod (G2) at Churchill Downs last November 28. James Graham will be aboard Northwest Tale while Brian Hernandez Jr. has piloting duties on Dream Dance.