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. Four graded stakes races and 1 ungraded were contested over the fast main track and firm turf course on the Oaks undercard. It was mostly cloudy through the day with temperatures in the low 60's. A crowd of 113,071 was on hand, the third largest ever for Kentucky Oaks day.
On Fire Baby wins the La Troienne Stakes (G1) over Molly Morgan
The first Grade 1 stakes of the Churchill Downs meeting is the $300,000 La Troienne Stakes (G1) for older fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on the main track. On Fire Baby, runner-up in the Apple Blossom (G1), was sent off as the 8-5 favorite in the field of 6 over 2-1 Unlimited Budget, second in the Rampart (G3), and 3-1 Devil's Cave, winner of the Sabin (G2).
Devil's Cave set the pace of 24.27, 47.51, and 1:11.32 over the fast track while stalked by On Fire Baby and 6-1 Magic Union. At the 3/16 pole On Fire Baby moved up to take over the lead, and drew off to win by 2 3/4 lengths over late-running 12-1 Molly Morgan in 1:43.48. It was another 1 1/2 lengths back to Devil's Cave third.
Left: On Fire Baby circles before going to the winner's circle. Winning trainer Gary Hartlage said, "I thought (Devil's Cave) would be on the lead and we would be stalking her. Joe had to get into her to keep up. Joe did a super job riding her. He asked her and she went on. I've always thought she was one of the top 5 fillies and mares in the country and hopefully she showed that today."
Right: On Fire Baby in the post parade. Winning jockey Joe Johnson said, "We wanted to be in a stalking position. Her last race was a good one. She was second to Close Hatches and we had given her a run for the money that day. She showed today that she is among the best. She is so gutsy."
The $150,000 Twin Spires Turf Sprint (G3) featured a field of 9 older horses sprinting 5 furlongs on the Matt Winn Turf Course. Sum of the Parts, fourth in the Colonel Power last out, was sent off as the 3-1 favorite over 7-2 second choice Marchman, winner of the Shakertown (G3), and 9-2 third choice Positive Side, second in the Shakertown and the Colonel Power. Sum of the Parts was quickest away through an opening quarter in 22.08 while stalked by Marchman. At the top of the lane, Sum of the Parts tired allowing Marchman to inherit the lead through a half in 44.23. 6-1 Undrafted rallied from 8th but Marchman cruised under the line 1 1/2 lengths in front in 56.04 over the firm course. It was just a neck back to Positive Side third. Favorite Sum of the Parts finished sixth.
Results chart from DRF
Left: Marchman in the post parade. Winning trainer Bret Calhoun said, "He broke sharp; I think that was the key.He's in very good form. He's getting better and better. He can on dirt, but right now we'll keep him sprinting on turf."
Right: Marchman heads back to the barn. Winning jockey Robby Albarado said, "Obviously when there is only one horse in front you it is not hard to get an outside position. I felt very confident in him. I squeezed on him, and he went on by commandingly."
A Little Bit Sassy wins the Edgewood Stakes
The $150,000 Edgewood Stakes featured a field of 9 three-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Candy Kitty was sent off as the 5-2 favorite over A Little Bit Sassy and Little Journey, both at 4-1. 5-1 fourth choice Istanford set the pace of 24.06, 48.44, and 1:13.14 while stalked by A Little Bit Sassy. Entering the stretch, jockey Luis Saez asked A Little Bit Sassy to challenge and she moved up to gain the lead at the 1/8 pole. After a short duel with Istanford, A Little Bit Sassy pulled away to win by 1 1/4 length in 1:42.79. It was just a neck back to Little Journey third, while favorite Candy Kitty tired late to finish 8th.
Left: A Little Bit Sassy heads to the winner's circle. Winning owner Ramona Bass said, "She's just a lovely filly. We've been excited about her from the beginning. I fell in love with her at Keeneland (2012 September Sale). I had to have her. Thankfully, she's really run well. I think we're going to have a lot of fun with her."
Right: A Little Bit Sassy after being unsaddled. Winning jockey Luis Saez said, "The last two times she tried to run on the front because she is very fast. But today, (trainer Michael Matz) told me to break and take her back and she did great. I got her to relax and when I got in the stretch she responded to me very well."
Fiftyshadesofgold wins the Eight Belles Stakes (G3)
The $175,000 Eight Belles Stakes (G3) featured a field of 9 three-year-old fillies sprinting 7 furlongs on the main track. Fair Grounds Oaks runner-up Fiftyshadesofgold was sent off as the 2-1 favorite over 5-2 She's a Tiger, winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), and 9-2 Jojo Warrior, second in the Instant Racing Stakes. Jojo Warrior battled for the early lead with 24-1 Cash Control and Fiftyshadesofgold through fractions of 22.31 and 44.77. At the top of the lane, Fiftyshadesofgold moved up to gain the lead through 3/4 in 1:09.27. 9-1 Milam came on from 6th to challenge but Fiftyshadesofgold held her off by 1/2 a length in 1:22.50. It was another 3 1/2 lengths back to Cash Control third.
Left: Fiftyshadesofgold returns afte the race. Winning trainer Bret Calhoun said, "It was the right call at the end of the day. You don't have a lot of opportunities to run in the Oaks but at the end of the day we wanted to win a graded stakes with this filly and we think this gave us the best chance."
Right: Fiftyshadesofgold in the post parade. Winning jockey Mike Smith said, "I knew when I locked into (Milam) at the 1/16 pole, that I had her measured. We could have gone around again and she wan't going to beat us."
Moonshine Mullin wins the Alysheba Stakes (G2) over Golden Ticket
The $300,000 Alysheba Stakes (G2) featured older horses going 1 1/16 miles on the main track. Oaklawn Handicap (G1) winner Will Take Charge was the 3-5 favorite in the field of 8 over 5-1 Golden Ticket, fourth in the Carter Handicap (G1) last out, and 13-2 Moonshine Mullin, winner of 3 straight allowance races at Oaklawn. Jockey Calvin Borel sent Moonshine Mullin to the lead first time by and he set fractions of 23.84, 47.81, and 1:11.79 while pressed by 14-1 Appealing Tale. Entering the stretch, Golden Ticket, fourth early, moved up to gain a short lead as the 1/8 pole through 1 mile in 1:36.82, but Moonshine Mullin fought back on the inside to win by 1/2 a length in 1:42.83. It was another 3 3/4 lengths back to 25-1 Coin Broker third, while favorite Will Take Charge failed to rally and finished 6th beaten 10 1/4 lengths.
Left: Moonshine Mullin in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Calvin Borel said, "I just sat as long as I could. I looked over my shoulder and I didn't see nothing else running. This is a nice horse. This horse is getting so good it's unbelievable." Winning trainer Randy Morse said, "His last race was just huge. It wasn't against this caliber of horses, but he really stepped it up. He's been doing well, and then we drew the 1 hole, which was a huge plus. He's been a good horse in the past - he ran second in the Jim Dandy as a 3-year-old. He's had some class before and he's finding it back now. I'm very happy."
Right: Beaten favorite and 6th place finisher Will Take Charge crosses the finish line. Jockey Gary Stevens said, "We got into the first turn okay, but I wasn't happy down inside and he wasn't happy down inside. I got an opportunity to get him out in the clear at the 5/8 pole, but immediately Rosie came up on the outside of him, putting pressure on him, and he wasn't liking it. He just never got into that big, beautiful rhythm we're used to seeing."
Tonalist upsets in the Belmont Stakes - He just got up to beat pacesetter Commissioner by a head with Medal Count third at Belmont Park on Saturday. Heavy favorite California Chrome had a bad start finished in a dead heat for 4th with Wicked Strong. Get the results, chart, and photos here.
True North Stakes and Belmont Gold Cup - Friday before the Belmont Stakes was headlined by the True North Stakes (G2) won by Palace along with the first running of the 2 mile Belmont Gold Cup won by Charming Kitten. Get the results, charts, and photos here.
Belmont Stakes Friday Photos - Photos from the morning works on the Friday before the 2014 Belmont Stakes, including California Chrome, Commanding Curve, Tonalist, and Ride On Curlin.
2014 Belmont Entries - A field of 11 was entered with California Chrome the favorite at 3-5 breaking form post 2. Check out the horses with post positions, morning line odds, full profiles and free past performances here.
Belmont Stakes Workout Photos - Photos from the morning works on the Saturday before the 2014 Belmont Stakes, featuring Triple Crown hopeful California Chrome in his final timed work before the big race. Also out were Commanding Curve, Tonalist, and Ride On Curlin.
Analyzing the Belmont Stakes Contenders - My annual analysis using popular angles and statistical trends to see who best matches the profile of a Belmont winner. California Chrome is not alone on top!
California Chrome romps in the Preakness (G1) - He took charge in the stretch and won by 1 1/2 lengths over late closing Ride On Curlin on Saturday at Pimlico with Social Inclusion 6 1/2 lengths farther back in third. Get the results, chart, and photos here.
Preakness Undercard Stakes Results - There were 7 other stakes on Preakness day including the Dixie (G2) won by Utley and the Gallorette Handicap (G3) won by Somali Lemonade. Get the results, charts, and photos for all 7 races here.
Stopchargingmaria wins the Black-Eyed Susan - Stopchargingmaria duelled with Vero Amore down the stretch and won by a neck in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) on Friday at Pimlico with Fortune Pearl third and favorite Sloane Square 9th. On the undercard, Revolutionary won the Pimlico Special (G3). Get the results, charts, and photos for all the stakes on the card here.
2014 Preakness Thursday Photos - Nine of the 10 Preakness entrants are at the Pimlico stakes barn and most of them went out on a foggy Thursday morning. Check out photos for each here.
2014 Preakness Entries - A field of 10 was entered on Wednesday with Derby winner California Chrome the 3-5 favorite drawing post 3. Check out the horses with post positions, morning line odds, and free past performances here.
California Chrome wins the Kentucky Derby - California Chrome stalked the pace then took the lead after a mile and drew off to win the Kentucky Derby (G1) by 1 3/4 lengths over longshot Commanding Curve and Damza. Get the results, charts, and photos here.
Analyzing the Top 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.
Road to the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard - the points earned by contenders in these designated prep races are what will determine who gets in the Kentucky Derby and Oaks at entry time this year. Updated weekly.
Review: Triple Crown Handicapper 2014 - 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. Revamped for 2014 to new format with additional info.
Security still tight for 2014 - if you are going to the Derby or Oaks be sure to check here to find out what you can bring in with you. The enhanced security from last year is back again so no big cameras, camcorders, big purses, or coolers. Check here to make sure you don't bring anything they will confiscate.
Kentucky Derby Future Wager - This year there were 4 pools starting in November of 2013 plus a single pool for the Oaks. Surprisingly, thie field of all other 3-year-olds was the favorite in all 4 pools.