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John Velazquez and Played Hard head to the winner's circle after the La Troienne

2023 Kentucky Oaks Undercard Stakes Results

Date: 05/05/2023

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, and this year was no exception with 106,381 fans packing the stands and infield. Five graded stakes and one ungraded were contested on the Oaks undercard, both over the fast main track and firm Matt Winn turf course. Conditions were ideal for racing, sunny skies and temperatures in the mid 70's all day. Churchill Downs president Mike Anderson said, "Congratulations to the connections of Pretty Mischievous on today's win. The 149th Kentucky Oaks will be remembered as a memorable day of racing on a near-perfect Kentucky day. Today's success should be attributed to our fans, sponsors, horsemen, horseplayers, and all participants of this distinguished racing tradition."

Get the Oaks results and photos here.

Played Hard (middle) wins the La Troienne Stakes (G1)
The first Grade 1 stakes of the Churchill Downs meeting is the $750,000 La Troienne Stakes (G1) presented by TwinSpires for older fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on the main track. 2022 Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Secret Oath was sent off as the 8-5 favorite in the field of 10 off her close second in the Apple Blossom Handicap (G1), over 4-1 second choice Search Results, unraced since 6th in the Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1), and 5-1 third choice Society, third in the Madison (G1).

Jockey Jose Ortiz sent Society to the lead through fractions of 23.53, 47.28, and 1:11.55 while pressed by 9-1 Played Hard and stalked by Search Results. Turning for home Society tired as Played Hard inherited the lead through 1 mile in 1:36.12. Secret Oath, 8th early, rallied well and bumped Played Hard late but Played Hard held her off to win by an neck in 1:42.48. It was another 1/2 length back to Search Results third. Tyler Gaffalione aboard Secret Oath claimed foul against John Velazquez aboard Played Hard for interference but the claim was disallowed.

Full results chart from DRF

Left: Played Hard in the winner's circle. Winning jockey John Velazquez said, "She's very brave. All the credit goes to Mr. Phil Bauer and his team. She's been working really good, and I didn't know if she had enough to beat Secret Oath today. But she put in a couple of good works here. I knew she was going to run well. The whole team did such a great job, to get her ready after a long layoff, and to run with this horse. I've got to give it to Phil, great job."

Right: Played Hard heads back to the barn. Winning trainer Phil Bauer said, "I went to bed many nights dreaming of this moment. Horse racing can be like climbing Mount Everest. Today, I feel like we've made it to the top. As a Louisville guy, this means everything to me. It's so hard to put into words what (owners) Tammi and Richard Rigney mean to me. They've supported me through the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows. This was a team effort. My team got this mare ready for this and I'm proud of them. A lot of this game is about opportunity; the owner gave me the opportunity to train this horse and she's performed. She's a millionaire now, too ($1.4 million). We were aware of that going into the race. I told Johnny that he wanted to sit the trip, then ride the trip. She'll give it to you if you wait. He rode her perfect."  

Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Secret Oath circles while the stewards consider the objection. Jockey Tyler Gaffalione said, "She shows up every time, she's as honest as they come, just a tremendous filly. Hats off to the winner today. Honestly, (the bumping) felt a lot worse than it looked. My filly must have been getting tired at that point, and we came together. I had pretty good position going into the first turn, then we ran into traffic, and a lot of shuffling, so I didn't want to get myself in a bad spot, so I got her out of there. She's got such a tremendous kick, that I wanted to rely on that." 

Right: Third place finisher Search Results in the post parade with popular pony horse Harley. Trainer Chad Brown said, "She got a good trip there and saved all the ground on the inside. She came up a length short in the end. She hadn't run since the Breeders' Cup, and I think she'll tighten up good from this. I think we'll probably run next in the Ogden Phipps at Belmont." Jockey Flavien Prat added, "She broke sharp and settled perfectly to save ground. She was in good position and began to make her run but after a long layoff fell a touch short."

Smile Happy wins the Alysheba Stakes (G2)
Kicking off the stakes action was the $600,000 Alysheba Stakes (G2) presented by Sentient Jet featuring 6 older horses going 1 1/16 miles on the main track. New Orleans Classic (G2) winner West Will Power was sent off as the 7-10 favorite over 7-2 second choice Art Collector, winner of the Pegasus World Cup (G1), and 6-1 third choice Last Samurai, second in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2).

Jockey Flavien Prat sent West Will Power to lead through fractions of 24.30 and 47.80 while pressed by 15-2 Smile Happy and stalked by Art Collector. On the turn West Will Power tired allowing Smile Happy to take over through 3/4 in 1:11.50. Kept to task by Brian Hernandez Jr., Smile Happy drew off late to win by 2 lengths over Art Collector in 1:41.29. It was another 3/4 lengths back to favorite West Will Power third.

Full results chart

Left: Smile Happy in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Ken McPeek said, "I'm really not surprised. He's tricky to deal with sometimes and the last couple of races, we've finally figured his number. We ran him back quickly at Oaklawn because he was difficult to train at Oaklawn. He got him back here and he's done everything right. But, we learned a value lesson in his last race at Oaklawn. He's a true alpha. He wants everything his own way. But, he can run like the wind. I'm really proud of him."

Right: Smile Happy came out early for the post parade. Winning jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. said, "(Smile Happy) got to his position so easy around the first turn. I expected to be three or four lengths back but he put himself in such a good spot. He had his ears flipping back and forth and I knew he was comfortable. Art Collector ran at him pretty hard at the 1/8th pole but he put him away."

Left: Last year's Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike was pretty spicy in the post parade and finished a dismal sixth as the 19-2 fifth choice. His trainer Eric Reed said, "I'm unusually disappointed in the effort. I'm not sure what's going on. I expected him to finish better. He was where he was supposed to be, but he didn't fire at all."

Right: The horses break from the gate for the Alysheba. Flavien Prat aboard third place finisher and beaten favorite West Will Power (4) said, "The winner was just going better than me all the way around. I was pleased with my trip but he was on top of me the whole race. (Smile Happy) was moving better than me. I think (West Will Power) needs more ground."

Heavenly Sunday wins the Edgewood Stakes
The $500,000 Edgewood Stakes (G2) presented by Forcht Bank featured a field of 11 three-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Debut winner Preliminary was sent off as the 7-2 favorite over 9-2 second choice Flashy Gem, second in the Bourbonette Oaks, and 5-1 third choice Papilio, winner of the Appalachian (G2).

Jockey Florent Geroux sent 19-2 Heavenly Sunday to the lead first time by through fractions of 23.19, 47.89, and 1:12.87 while pressed by Flashy Gem and stalked by 10-1 Liguria. Turning for home, Heavenly Sunday continued to lead through 1 mile in 1:36.34. 17-2 Revalita, 6th early, came out 5 wide to rally but Heavenly Sunday held her off to win by 3/4 length in 1:42.40. It was a neck back to 7-1 Mission of Joy third, while favorite Preliminary showed nothing and finished last beaten 7 lengths.

Full results chart

Left: Heavenly Sunday in the winner's circle. Winning jokey Florent Geroux said, "I think there was an honest pace but I don't think I was going extremely fast. It was just a good rhythm for her to keep her comfortable. It looked like the horse was trying to make a run for me at the end but my filly had a major turn of foot."

Right: Heavenly Sunday get hosed off after the race. Winning trainer Brad Cox said, "We've been pointing towards this race since last fall at Keeneland. I was disappointed in her first two races this year because I thought she would win. She put it all together today."

Red Carpet Ready (outside) wins the Eight Belles Stakes (G3)
The $500,000 Eight Belles Stakes (G2) presented by Sysco featured a field of 7 three-year-old fillies sprinting 7 furlongs on the main track. Stonehedge Farm South Sophomore Fillies Stakes winner Munnys Gold was sent off as the 2-5 favorite over 11-2 second choice Red Carpet Ready, winner of the Forward Gal (G3) before third in the Davona Dale (G2), and 8-1 third choice Accede, a debut winner last out.

Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. sent Munnys Gold to the lead out of the chute through fractions of 22.67 and 45.11 while pressed by 18-1 Condensation and stalked by Red Carpet Ready. Turning for home Red Carpet Ready took over the lead opening up a 1 1/2 length advantage through 3/4 in 1:09.96. Munnys Gold fought back but Red Carpet Ready held her off to win by a head in 1:22.28. It was another 1 3/4 lengths back to Accede third.

Full results chart

Left: Red Carpet Ready in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Rusty Arnold II said, "She wants to sprint and she loves it here. We're going to regroup and keep to sprinting. Louie rode her great. He took it to (Munnys Gold) and she was ready." Jockey Luis Saez added, "This filly had a good break, and she put us right in it. When she got the lead, I wanted her to open it up, but she was waiting a little bit. When she was alone, she waited for the other horse to come back. I was pretty worried about the other horse, because in the long stretch, she tried hard to catch us. Red Carpet Ready is a spectacular filly. She always tries really hard."

Right: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Munnys Gold returns after the race. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. said, "The winner jumped for me, and I tried to turn her back, but we came up short. The fractions were beautiful, beautiful. She tried to come back, and was very game, but just got beat. We'll fight another day."

Didia wins the Modesty Stakes (G3)
The $300,000 Modesty Stakes (G3) presented by TwinSpires featured a field of 7 older fillies and mares going 1 1/8 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course. Hillsborough (G2) winner Shantisara was sent off as the 9-4 favorite over 5-2 second choice Didia, winner of the Tom Benson Memorial, and 3-1 third choice McKulick, unraced since second in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1) in October.

Jockey Javier Castellano sent 9-1 Sweet Dani Girl to the front first time by through fractions of 23.25, 47.84, and 1:11.58 while pressed by 11-1 Lady Rockstar and stalked by Didia. Turning for home Didia moved up to challenge through 1 mile in 1:35.45. Kept to task by Vincent Cheminaud, Didia drew off late to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Sweet Dani Girl in 1:47.46. It was another 1/2 length back to 11-2 New Year's Eve third, and 1 1/4 more to favorite Shantisara fourth.
Results chart from DRF

Left: Didia heads to the winner's circle. Winning jockey Vincent Cheminaud said, "This year, she has progressed in every race. We had a good trip today and when I asked her for run today, she responded. It's a nice filly and I hope she will progress and win a Grade 1 this year."

Right: Didia heads back to the barn after the race. Winning trainer Ignacio Correas IV said, "I won't say I was worried, but they were bunched tightly at the start. I felt more confident once I saw her settle into third. From there, it was just a matter of whether or not she would have her kick. I don't know how she does it, but she always makes it look easy."

Caravel wins the Unbridled Sidney Stakes
The $300,000 Unbridled Sidney Stakes presented by Turfway Park Racing and Gaming featured a field of 10 older fillies and mares sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf. Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1) and Shakertown (G2) winner Caravel was sent off as the 3-4 favorite over 4-1 Bay Storm, third in the Wishing Well after finishing second in the Megahertz (G3), and 6-1 Oeuvre, 9th in the Giants Causeway.

Jockey Tyler Gaffalione sent Caravel to the lead through fractions of 21.97 and 44.62 while pressed by 21-1 Miner's Queen and stalked by Oeuvre. Turning for home Caravel opened up a 3 length lead through 5f in 56.27. Bay Storm put in a strong rally but 6th early but Caravel was well clear, finishing up 1 1/2 lengths ahead in 1:02.47. It was a head back to 38-1 Sarah Harper third.
Results chart from DRF

Left: Caravel in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Tyler Gaffalione said, "She's been breaking better the last four or five starts and she's putting herself in good spots. She gets comfortable and it's all easy for her. She's just a very fast filly. The second you ask her, she turns on the jets. She finishes the job well."

Right: Caravel heads back to the barn after the race. Winning trainer Brad Cox said, "Big run from this filly. She's become very consistent. You can tell when she's ready to run and she's been on 'go' for a while since the month of March training up at Turfway and continuing on through April. (Royal Ascot next start) is the plan. We will how she comes out of this race first and foremost but that was one reason we brought he back at the age of six. We took her out of the November sale and that's been the goal."

Get the Oaks results and photos here.

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