The Fantasy Stakes (GII) runner-up Amie’s Dini galloped 1 ½ miles this morning for trainer Ron Moquett, the third trainer who has been part of the filly’s development. She began her career with Bernell Rhone in Oklahoma last fall and was conditioned by Kellyn Gorder in her first Churchill attempt in October.
“I was happy to get her in our barn and she keeps improving,” Moquett said. “All the guys who trained her before me had a hand in her being what she is today. I give them credit, too.”
Amie’s Dini set the pace in the Honeybee (GIII) at Oaklawn when finishing second, but has shown the ability to stalk and pounce.
“She can do whatever,” Moquett said. “One thing about her is that she doesn’t have to be anywhere particular. Just ride her with common sense.”
Co-owner Mike Walker said the filly was entered for a $50,000 maiden claiming race in her debut in hopes she could get a race under her belt quickly and develop for the Delta Princess Stakes in Louisiana by November.
“I figured nobody in Oklahoma would claim her for 50 when we paid $3,000 for her,” he said with a smile. Amie’s Dini won that debut by 2-3/4 lengths at Remington Park and since has gone on to four stakes placings this year at Oaklawn.
Amie’s Dini drew post 13 of 14 in the Oaks and will be ridden once again by Jon Court.
AND WHY NOT – Helen K. Groves’ And Why Not stood in the starting gate before jogging a mile and galloping a mile at Churchill Downs Tuesday morning in preparation for a start in Friday’s Kentucky Oaks (GI).
The daughter of Street Cry, who finished seventh in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (GII) in her only start this year, drew the No. 10 post for the Kentucky Oaks and was rated at 15-1 in the morning line.
Michael Matz trains And Why Not for his mother-in-law.
“It’s terrific,” said Matz, breaking out in a smile when asked what it’s like to train for his mother-in-law. “No, she’s a horsewoman. She understands things. She couldn’t be any better. I’d love for this horse to do well here. She wanted the horse to run here and we got in. We’re taking our best hold.”
And Why Not, who finished second behind On Fire Baby in the Pocahontas (GII) last fall at Churchill Downs, is slated to be ridden by Julien Leparoux.
BELIEVE YOU CAN – Owner Brereton Jones and trainer Larry Jones still had reason to be excited Tuesday morning, despite having to announce that their top 3-year-old colt, Mark Valeski, will pass on the Kentucky Derby. A question about how their Kentucky Oaks prospect, $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) winner Believe You Can, galloped on her first day back to the track after Sunday’s sizzling five-furlong work in :58.80 brought a grin to the trainer’s face.
“Great,” said Jones, who galloped the filly himself during the Oaks and Derby training session. “Just great. Hers was a ‘wow’ work. She acts like she went in a minute and three-fifths. If we win the Oaks we’re going to have a good weekend anyway.”
Believe You Can drew post nine and is 10-1 on the morning line for the Kentucky Oaks. Regular rider Rosie Napravnik has the call.
BROADWAY’S ALIBI – E. Paul Robsham Stables’ Broadway’s Alibi accompanied stablemates Gemologist and El Padrino on a flight from South Florida Tuesday morning. Trainer Todd Pletcher’s Derby-Oaks contingent arrived by van from Louisville International Standiford Field Airport in late morning.
The daughter of Vindication was rated at 4-1 in the morning-line for Friday’s Kentucky Oaks (GI) after drawing post No. 6 in the full field of 14 Tuesday.
Broadway’s Alibi finished second in her debut at Delaware Park before winning her next four starts, including the Forward Gal (GII) at Gulfstream Park and the Comely (GIII) at Aqueduct this year.
“Frankly, she surprised us. I thought that when we were at Saratoga that she wasn’t up to the maiden special weight level at Saratoga. She’s just one that’s improved, improved and improved,” Pletcher said. “It wasn’t a surprise after her first race. She ran pretty well figure-wise to suggest it was a good race.”
Javier Castellano has the mount aboard Broadway’s Alibi.
COLONIAL EMPRESS – The Honeybee Stakes (GIII) third-place finisher galloped 1 ½ miles this morning under exercise rider Rudy Colon as entries for Friday’s Oaks loomed just hours away. Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas aims to tie Woody Stephens’ record with a potential fifth Kentucky Oaks score.
“The Oaks is a race you always want to win,” Lukas said. “Hopefully we can surprise them.”
Jockey Corey Nakatani has the Oaks mount on Colonial Empress, who drew post No. 12 in the starting gate. Nakatani twice has won the Oaks, 1991 aboard Lite Light and 1996 aboard Pike Place Dancer.
EDEN’S MOON/JEMIMA’S PEARL – Gillian Campbell, R Group Management Ltd. and Greenwood Lodge Farm’s Jemima’s Pearl galloped 1 ½ miles Tuesday morning.
The Kentucky-bred daughter of Distorted Humor, who was third in the Fantasy (G2), drew post eight in the Kentucky Oaks. She will be ridden by Joe Talamo.
Kaleem Shah’s Eden’s Moon galloped 1½ miles Tuesday morning.
The Grade 1-winning daughter of Malibu Moon drew post four in the Oaks. Martin Garcia will ride the Florida-bred, who is 12-1 on the morning line.
GRACE HALL – The Gulfstream Park Oaks (GII) winner arrived at Churchill Downs late Tuesday morning following a flight from South Florida, where she had been training at Palm Meadows Training Center for a start in Friday’s Kentucky Oaks (GI).
Owned by Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables and The Elkstone Group, Grace Hall was installed as the 5-2 favorite after drawing post No. 2 Tuesday. The daughter of Empire Maker will break directly to the outside of On Fire Baby, rated second at 4-1 along with Broadway’s Alibi.
“At the moment, I’m not feeling I have something to be concerned about with the 2 post,” trainer Anthony Dutrow said. “I thought that she would be the favorite.”
Grace Hall, who’ll be stabled in trainer Dallas Stewart’s barn at Churchill, is scheduled to be ridden by Javier Castellano.
HARD NOT TO LIKE – With her Kentucky Oaks filly on her way to Louisville from Woodbine Race Course, trainer Gail Cox was excited to hear about drawing post position five for Friday’s $1 million Oaks at Churchill Downs.
“That’s a pretty good post,” the trainer said by telephone from the track outside of Toronto. “I’m certainly happy with that.”
Hard Not to Like left at 5 a.m. for her 10-hour van ride to Churchill Downs. The trainer will leave for Louisville Wednesday, with an expected arrival time of mid- to late-afternoon.
Churchill Downs veteran jockey Robby Albarado has the call.
KARLOVY VARY – Alex Campbell Jr.’s Karlovy Vary galloped 1 ½ miles under exercise rider Marty Metcalf before the morning renovation break.
Trainer Rusty Arnold plans to school Karlovy Vary in the paddock this afternoon with horses for the fifth race.
James Graham, who rode the filly to a front-running victory in the Central Bank Ashland (GI) at Keeneland in her most recent start, will be aboard for Friday’s Kentucky Oaks (GI).
“The Ashland was the first time I was on her,” Graham said. “She’s a lovely filly. She got a little warm in the post parade like Rusty said she would but when she left the gate, that’s all she wrote.”
Graham was asked if he had any concerns about Karlovy Vary handling the dirt, a surface she has raced on only once with a seventh-place finish in last fall’s Golden Rod (GII).
“No,” Graham said emphatically. “Her sire is Dynaformer and they can run on broken glass and bottle tops. People look at the pedigree and think grass and Polytrack. I’ll tell you, the Keeneland Poly this spring was not a grass course. I am going to ride her with confidence.”
OAKS LILY – Jonathan Rey, Javier Sarmiento and Dante Zanelli Jr.’s Oaks Lily galloped 1 ¾ miles during the Oaks and Derby training session and picking up the pace through the lane.
“We let her roll the last quarter-mile to the wire and she did it in :26,” said Zanelli, the bloodstock agent who co-owns the filly and is managing her preparations this week. “We were happy. She wasn’t even blowing.”
Oaks Lily has no graded stakes earnings but only 15 fillies entered the race, which is limited to 14 starters, so she’s first in line to make the field should there be any defections over the next two days. Oaks Lily, with but one win to her credit, is 50-1 on the morning line. Rafael Bejarano was named to ride.
“We’ll wait until Friday at 9 a.m. and see what comes up,” Zanelli said. “We’re ready. The filly’s doing very well. If something happens we’ll be here and if something doesn’t happen we’ll move on to the next one.”
Zanelli has said that if Oaks Lily doesn’t make it into the race for which she is named they will instead point to the May 18 $300,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (GII) at Pimlico Race Course.
ON FIRE BABY – Anita Cauley’s On Fire Baby was on the track at 6 o’clock sharp Tuesday morning with jockey Joe Johnson aboard for trainer Gary Hartlage.
The two-time Churchill Downs graded-stakes winner visited the paddock and then started a routine 1 ½-mile gallop. As she passed the five-eighths pole, the horn sounded signifying a loose horse.
The loose horse, who was about a quarter-mile behind On Fire Baby, was quickly caught but Johnson opted not to take any chances.
“She galloped about seven-eighths and then jogged her back to the half-mile pole,” said Johnson, who has ridden On Fire Baby in all six of her starts.
Johnson rode On Fire Baby’s half-sister High Heels to a third-place finish behind Rags to Riches in the 2007 Kentucky Oaks.
“High Heels carried herself a little lower,” Johnson said. “On Fire Baby is taller and wider. If they were cars, High Heels would be a Camaro and On Fire Baby a Camaro Super Sport.”
Johnson was at the barn the day On Fire Baby arrived last spring.
“When she walked off the van, she had a presence about her,” Johnson said of the daughter or Ornate. “You could see the ability. Everything has worked out and here we are almost a year later. I am glad to be a part of it.”
The family line will continue next week when Hartlage gets two new arrivals in the barn. Coming are Shoe Queen, a full sister to High Heels, and High Heels’ first foal named Grits and Grace by Tapit. Scheduled to arrive next year is Ornate’s first colt, a son of Tiznow.
SACRISTY – Trainer Wayne Catalano sent out his Oaks hopeful for a two-mile gallop this morning and visit to the starting gate.
“She can get a little excited, but not too bad,” Catalano said. “We’re going to school her today and tomorrow to get used to the paddock a little bit.”
The Kentucky Oaks will be the longest career attempt for Sacristy, a variable Catalano admits could be a challenge.
“They all will be in question at a mile and an eighth,” he said. “We’ll see which fillies can get it. It’s a great race, the Oaks, one you always want to win as a trainer. Maybe history will repeat itself. Mr. Fort (Peachtree Stables) won it last year (with Plum Pretty) after all.”
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will have the Oaks mount on Sacristy, who drew post No. 7.
SUMMER APPLAUSE – Gillian Campbell, R Group Management and Greenwood Lodge Farm’s Summer Applause galloped 1 ½ miles under exercise rider Jeff Lopez as soon as the track opened at 5:45 a.m.
“I think she’s trained even better over this surface than she did in New Orleans,” trainer Bret Calhoun said of Fair Grounds’ Rachel Alexandra Stakes (GIII) winner and Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) runner-up.
Summer Applause drew post three and was made 15-1 on the morning line.
“I don’t think the draw has much impact,” assistant trainer Dennis “Peaches” Geier said. “She’s going to be behind early anyway. The main thing is you want to get a good trip and hopefully we will.”
Garrett Gomez will ride Summer Applause for the first time.
YARA – Peras International’s Yara arrived at Churchill Downs late this morning by van from the Trackside Training Center, where she galloped 1 ½ miles when the track opened at 6 a.m. She will spend the remainder of this week in Barn 43, Stall 12.
Trainer Jose Garoffalo confirmed that Yara was fine upon arrival at Churchill. Sticking with the established routine, Yara will get her daily exercise in shortly after the track opens at 5:45 a.m. and not during the Oaks and Derby training session.
Yara, who has been on or near the lead for all of her three wins, drew the outside post 14. She is 30-1 on the morning line and Jesus Castanon, who was aboard for Yara’s 64-1 Davona Dale (GII) triumph, has the mount.
Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN) also operates Trackside at Churchill Downs, which offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 5, 2012, and its Spring Meet is scheduled for April 28-July 1. The track has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships a record eight times. Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at www.churchilldowns.com.
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