SOUTH / OAKS FUTURE FAVORITE BLIND LUCK WINS FANTASY, NOW LIKELY FAVORITE FOR KENTUCKY OAKS 136 – Blind Luck, the favorite in this year’s lone pool of Churchill Downs’ Kentucky Oaks Future Wager, probably erased any doubts that might have arisen in an upset loss in the Santa Anita Oaks (Grade I) when she charged from off the pace to score a sharp 2 ½-length victory in Friday’s $300,000 Fantasy Stakes (GII) at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark.

The win, which followed a third-place finish to Crisp at Santa Anita, made the filly who is trained and co-owned by Jerry Hollendorfer the likely favorite to provide her trainer with his second victory in the $500,000-added Kentucky Oaks (GI).  Hollendorfer won the 1996 renewal with Pike Place Dancer.

The daughter of Pollard’s Vision overcame a moderate pace set by lone front-runner Tidal Pool and rolled home to win under jockey Rafael Bejarano.  Blind Luck covered the 1 1/16-mile distance in a strong 1:42.56 over a “fast” traditional dirt track.  The clocking was faster than the winning time posted by last year’s Fantasy winner Rachel Alexandra, who went to win the Kentucky Oaks by a record 20 ¼ lengths and  earned Horse of the Year honors.

Tidal Pool easily held second and was followed by Honeybee (GIII) winner No Such Word and Santa Anita Oaks runner-up All Due Respect in the field of four 3-year-old fillies.

Blind Luck is nominated to both the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI), but Hollendorfer has insisted that she would run against fillies at Churchill Downs on Friday, April 30.  Her record stands at 6-1-2 in nine races and the Fantasy pushed her earnings to $1,069,050.

“The Oaks has been our target,” Hollendorfer said.  “If I can get that, then I’ll worry about everything else later on.”

ddIt was just the second race for Blind Luck on traditional dirt and her first since a 13 ¼-length romp in her career debut last June at Florida’s Calder Race Course.

KENTUCKY / EVENING JEWEL HOLDS ON TO WIN ASHLAND FOR SMALL STABLE – California invader Evening Jewel, the star of a small three-horse stable, led from start to finish to hold off It’s Tea Time to win Saturday’s $400,000 Central Bank Ashland Stakes (GI) at Keeneland by a neck.

Tom and Marilyn Braly purchased the daughter of Northern Afleet for only $8,000 at the Keeneland September Sale in 2008 and now have won one of the Lexington track’s most prestigious races and appear bound for a bid for the $500,000 Kentucky Oaks.  Evening Jewel gave an early hint to her quality when she dropped a narrow nose decision to favored Blind Luck in the Las Virgenes (GI) at Santa Anita.

Kent Desormeaux was aboard the James Cassady-trained winner, who put away favored 2-year-old filly champion and Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) winner She Be Wild in the stretch and had just enough left to hold off It’s Tea Time.  She Be Wild was third, while Negligee, Canada’s 2-year-old filly co-champion, faded to seventh in the 1 1/16-mile race over synthetic Polytrack.

DIVA DELITE RUNS FOR NEW BARN IN KEENELAND’S BEAUMONT – A five-race winning streak figures to make Florida Oaks (Giii) winner Diva Delite the center of attention in Wednesday’s $150,000 Beaumont (GII) at Keeneland.   She won those races under the care of trainer David Vivian, but was purchased after her last win by Cloverleaf Farms II and turned over to new trainer Ian Wilkes.