Kentucky Oaks Day on Friday usually draws the second largest attendance of any raceday in North America, second only to the Kentucky Derby run the very next day. In contrast to the rain predicted for Derby day, it was sunny with temperatures around 70. Five graded stakes races were contested over the fast main track and good turf course on the Oaks undercard.
Blind Luck wins the La Troienne Stakes (G2) over Unrivaled Belle
Kicking off the stakes action on Oaks day is the $300,000 La Troienne Stakes (G2) for older fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on the main track. Last year's Kentucky Oaks winner Blind Luck was the 7-5 favorite in the field of 8 off 5 straight runner-up finishes incuding the Azeri (G3) at Oaklawn. 9-1 Absinthe Minded set the early pace of 24.32, 48.54, and 1:11.88 while being stalked by 8-1 Quiet Giant, while Blind Luck sat last for the first 1/2 mile after stumbling at the start. Into the stretch, Blind Luck came out wide for room, closing well to defeat 2-1 Unrivaled Belle by 1/2 a length in 1:42.93. It was a long 3 lengths back to 16-1 All Due Respect third.
Blind Luck circles before going to the winner's circle. Her jockey Garrett Gomez said, "She was standing good (at
the start) and then for some reason she fell to her head. But she got back up and got going. One of the positive things about it is that she wants to be back there (near the rear) anyway. I didn't have to rush her, just sort of ease up to them. When she came running late I
still wasn't sure if we'd get there. (Unrivaled Belle) is tough and a fighter, so I didn't know if we were home or not. But my filly wants to win. She's tough. And we got on by."
Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer added, "We had trouble in the beginning, she overcame it and I am very proud of her. We never lost confidence in her. I always thought it was circumstances that prevented her from getting another win. We never gave up on her. We gave her plenty of time to get ready this race. She came through for us big time."
Diva Ash wins the Edgewood Stakes
The $100,000 Edgewood Stakes featured a field of 8 three-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Smart Sting, undefeated in 2 starts, was sent off as the 2-1 favorite making her stakes debut. Kent Desormeaux sent 7-2 second choice Diva Ash to the lead immediately and she set easy fractions of 24.87, 50.92, and 1:15.60 over the good turf while as many as 2 lengths in front of 4-1 Niji's Grand Girl. At the 3/8 pole Diva Ash accelerated away from the field, opening up a 3 length advantage at the 1/8 pole. 9-1 Sassy's Dream gave chase but Diva Ash easily held her off by 1 1/2 lengths in 1:45.93. It was another 1/2 length back to Smart Sting third.
Diva Ash circles before going to the winner's circle. Her trainer Dale Romans said, "I knew there wasn't going to be a lot speed. Kent asked permission to let her run away from the gate if no one went with her and we said it would be fine. It ended up perfect because they were going so slow and he was out there. He just had too much horse left."
Jockey Kent Desormeaux added, "We thought if we could get the easy lead, take it. But I tell you, she was pressured all the way from the half-mile pole. She had to run so she was very capable. The pressure came at the half-mile pole and she was ready for the action."
Victoria's Wildcat wins the Eight Belles Stakes (G3)
The $100,000 Eight Belles Stakes (G3) featured a field of 10 three-year-old fillies sprinting 7 furlongs on the main track. Arienza, a daughter of Giant's Causeway out of Azeri, was the 5-2 favorite off her 2nd place finish in the Fantasy Stakes (G2). 4-1 Hoem Sweet Aspen went to the lead exiting the chute and set fractions of 22.02 and 44.57 while being stalked by 13-1 Honey Chile down the backstretch. On the turn, Honey Chile made her move and gained the lead through 3/4 in 1:09.84. However, she tired late as 7-1 Victoria's Wildcat, last early, rallied down the center of the course to win going away by 2 1/4 lengths over Home Sweet Aspen in 1:23.03. It was just a nose back to Honey Chile third, while Arienza failed to fire and was 8th.
Victoria's Wildcat circles before going to the winner's circle. Her trainer Bob Hess said, "This is what we always thought we had, and it has finally all came together. She bruised her foot in January and we lost some time with her. She's going to be a neat filly the rest of the year and next year. She's very healthy. We'll sit down and talk about what's next - maybe something in New York or here."
Jockey Kent Desormeaux added, "Bob has been putting me on horses since 1990. It sure is good to win one for him. The first 100 yards out of the gate I got hazed. She was having trouble switching her leads and she fell back behind them. But she got it going and in the end it unfolded just like I'd hoped. It helps when you've got the horse to do it. It's like going for that hole and having the hole go faster than you. Today we were fast enough to get right on through."
First Dude (#7) wins the Alysheba Stakes (G3) over Regal Ransom (rail)
The $300,000 Alysheba Stakes (G3) featured older horses going 1 1/16 miles on the main track. New Orleans Handicap (G2) winner Mission Impazible was the 5-2 favorite in the field of 9. 10-1 Wise Dan set the early pace of 23.56, 47.49 and 1:11.95 while being stalked by 9-1 Regal Ransom for the first 3/4 mile. On the turn, Wise Dan tired badly allowing Regal Ransom to inherit the lead into the stretch. 7-2 First Dude, who was 5th down the backstretch, came out 5 wide for the drive and closed with a rush to nail Regal Ransom by a nose in 1:42.56. It was just a head back to 18-1 Equestrio third, while favorite Mission Impazible was 7th.
First Dude circles before going to the winner's circle. His trainer Bob Baffert said, "He wants to be rated. He likes to sit back there and I think he's
going to be more effective coming from off the pace. I thought he got beat but that big head of his really came through in the end. I thought it was a great race for the horse. Dale (Romans) did a great job with him (last year) and, unfortunately, he was having to run against Lookin At Lucky last year. But now he's a big, solid, sound horse and he likes this track. I'm glad he won here. I'm just trying to get him to the Breeders' Cup."
Jockey Martin Garcia added, "Look at my silks. They're all clean. I had a perfect trip. It was real close at the finish, but I thought I had it. I had plenty of horse when I needed it. Mr. Bob (Baffert) said just let him run his own race. Let him be happy. So that's what I did. He was a happy horse today. Now we're all happy."
Banned wins the American Turf (G2)
The $200,000 American Turf Stakes (G2) featured a field of twelve 3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Banned, third in an allowance last out after finishing 5th in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G2), was the lukewarm 3-1 favorite. 7-2 second choice Great Mills went to the lead and set fractions of 23.53, 47.56, and 1:12.35 while 1 1/2 lengths in front of 14-1 Jakesam. Great Mills continued to lead to mid-stretch before tiring. Banned, 9th early, came out 6 wide into the lane and easily ran by the field, drawing off in the final furlong to win by 4 1/2 lengths over 14-1 Close Ally in 1:42.95. It was just a head back to 4-1 Air Support third.
Left: Banned circles before going to the winner's circle. His jockey Garrett Gomez said, "He was really quiet in the post parade. He's usually keyed up. Out of the gate, he settled in really nice into the first turn. There was a lot of pace up front. On the backside, I made him move up a little bit and once I got him moving forward a bit, I felt like I was in striking distance of all of them. I felt if he came home the way he's supposed to, he'd be right there contending for the win at the end. I didn't think he'd make the lead so easily. I made the lead so fast, it took him by surprise."
Trainer Tom Proctor added, "He's always had talent and he ran big today. The speed in there went quick and kind of set it up for us. I didn't know if he could kick like that but I was glad to see it. I kind of enjoyed that one. By design we were trying to get off (the pace) but mostly I let it up to Garrett to be comfortable but I'd prefer to not get in a hurry."
Oxbow upsets in the Preakness - Oxbow led the entire way in the Preakness Stakes (G1) on Saturday at Pimlico with Itsmyluckyday second and Mylute third. Heavy favorite Orb made a mild move to finish fourth. Get the results, charts, and photos here.
Preakness undercard stakes results - There were 7 other stakes on the card, highlighted by the Dixie Stakes (G2) won by Skyring and the Allaire DuPont Distaff Stakes (G3) won by Summer Applause. Get the results, charts, and photos for 6 of the races here.
Fiftyshadesofhay wins the Black-Eyed Susan - Fiftyshadesofhay just got up to win the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) on Friday at Pimlico by a neck over Marathon Lady with favorite Emollient 6th. On the undercard, Last Gunfighter won the Pimlico Special (G3). Get the results, charts, and photos here.
Analyzing the Preakness Stakes Contenders for 2013 - My annual analysis using popular angles and statistical trends to see who best matches the profile of a Preakness winner. The big surprise is that Kentucky Derby winner Orb is not in the top group!
Orb wins the Kentucky Derby - Orb was far back early but took the lead in the stretch and drew off to win the Kentucky Derby (G1) by 2 1/2 lengths over longshot Golden Soul and Revolutionary. Get the results, charts, and photos here.
More Kentucky Derby Photos - More photos from the day including more of Orb, the trophy, the roses, Martina McBride, and lots of mud.
Kentucky Derby undercard stakes results - There were 5 other stakes on Derby day including the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1) won by 2012 Horse of the Year Wise Dan and the Humana Distaff Stakes (G1) won by Aubby K. Get the results, charts, and photos for all 5 races here.
Princess of Sylmar upsets in the Kentucky Oaks - She rallied from far back to win the Kentucky Oaks by a half length over Beholder and Unlimited Budget, while favorite Dreaming of Julia was fourth. Get the results, chart, and photos here.
Kentucky Oaks undercard stakes results - There were 5 other stakes on Oaks day including the La Troienne Stakes (G2) won by Authenticity and the Alysheba Stakes (G3) won by Take Charge Indy. Get the results, charts, and photos for all 5 races here.
Kentucky Oaks Entries - A field of 11 fillies will go, with Gulfstream Oaks winner Dreaming of Julia favorite at 3-1 from post 8. Get the post positions, odds, and free past performances here.
Top Kentucky Derby Contenders - my list of the top horses headed to the Derby with profiles for each with photos, stats, and link to more info like past performances and pedigree.
Analyzing the top 2013 Kentucky Derby contenders - My annual analysis of the top contenders to try and select a winner by matching each to the profile of a Kentucky Derby winner using many of the more popular angles and statistical trends. This year there were is a 3-way tie for the top spot: Goldencents, Normandy Invasion, and Overanalyze.
2013 Kentucky Derby And Oaks Security - New enhanced stricter rules will be enforced this year. Be sure to read the rules as many have changed and more things are banned. There will still be magnetic wand searches of all patrons and many things are no longer allowed. Check here to make sure you don't bring anything they will confiscate.
Review: Triple Crown Handicapper 2013 - by Jim Mazur. Includes lots of stats for all 3 races and explains how to use a system of statistically derived negative angles to eliminate the "bad" picks.
Review: Kentucky Derby Greatest Moments - Commemorative DVD from Churchill Downs with video from 27 different runnings along with interviews, photos, and historical info. Definitely recommended for any racing fan!
Review: Churchill Downs - America's Most Historic Racetrack by Kimberly Gatto. An entertaining and informative account of the history of the track and it's most famous race, the Kentucky Derby, with lots of photos. Definitely recommended.