Bird Town winner of the Kentucky Oaks with Edgar Prado up
On Friday May 2, a crowd of 100,523 was in attendance for the 129th running of the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs, the fifth-largest ever. The bettors sent Lady Tak off as the slight 5-2 favorite over second choice Elloluv at almost 3-1, but longshot Bird Town proved to be the best today.
When the gate opened, expected pacesetter Elloluv was sent right to the front by jockey Robby Albarado, and she led the procession through initial fractions of 23.09, 46.08, and 1:10.15 for the first six furlongs. 46-1 longshot Tempus Fugit tried to keep up with her but faded quickly after the half, as did My Boston Gal. The brisk pace set the race up for the closers. Turning for home, 6-1 chance Santa Catarina, unhurried back in seventh early, went five wide and got the lead briefly with a furlong to go after a mile in 1:35.67. 18-1 longshot Birdtown, who stumbled at the start and raced back in eighth first time past the stands, rallied six wide into the lane after and exchanging brushes with Santa Catarina drew clear inside the final furlong. She won going away by 3 1/4 lengths in a final time of 1:48.64 for the 1 1/8 mile feature. It was a head back to 7-1 chance Yell who was bumped and had to check sharply in the first turn, but angled five wide late to get up for third my 3/4 length over Elloluv. Favorite Lady Tak disappointed, finishing sixth.
Bird Town in the Oaks winner's circle.
Trainer Nick Zito, who has won two Kentucky Derbies but is celebrating his first Oaks win, said, "To me, this is the same feeling as winning the Derby. We just wanted her to run her normal race close to the pace but she stumbled." Zito indicated Bird Town's next start will be in the Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont Park.
Jockey Edgar Prado said, "She stumbled very badly at the start and I got bounced around pretty good. But she showed tremendous determination and a great will to win when she rallied. I lost some position early in the race, but I don't think I lost the faith."
Winning owner-breeder Marylou Whitney said, "This is a homebred and Nick knows, I love my homebreds. I just love her. Don't give up on your mares. They might not produce the first few times, but you might get some luck. You never know what's going to happen."
Purse: $500,000 Distance: 1 1/8 miles
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 5 Bird Town Prado 38.40 14.20 9.20 11 Santa Caterina Stevens 8.60 6.20 6 Yell Velazquez 6.00
Results chart Race 10
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Results chart Race 9
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