On a day when the Indiana Downs main track played kindly to
outside closers, Pure Fun closed widest and fastest of all to capture the 18th
running of the Grade II Indiana Oaks.
As Pure Fun trailed the field, heavy 2/5 favorite Fiftyshadesofhay
dualed for the early lead between long shots Run forestry Run and Wild About
Irene through a quick opening half mile of 46.82 seconds. Entering the far turn
Fiftyshadesofhay disposed of Run Forestry Run, but when everyone expected the
Bob Baffert trainee to kick clear from the field, Oscar Party moved up 3-wide
to engage the leaders after 6 furlongs in 1:10.78. Down the lane Oscar Party
and Fiftyshadesofhay locked up in a dual, but it was Pure Fun who wore down the
duo in the last 50 yards to win going away by 1 ¾ lengths.
“That’s her running style. Our plan was to take her back and
make the one big run she always makes. She gave it to me and (I) took it to my
advantage when the others were running out of horse,” jockey Victor Lebron.
Pure Fun was making her first start since a 6th
place finish in the Kentucky Oaks last May. After that race the 3-year-old
daughter of Pure Prize was sidelined with a chip in her ankle, but obviously
bounced back from that injury in fine order. “She’s been working fantastic, and
had a great work in the slop,” said assistant trainer, Matt Shirer. “Vic and I
talked about keeping her outside of horses. She got the pace she wanted and
finished. It’s been a long road with her.”
When asked if the Breeders’ Cup Distaff was on target co-owner Peter Edwards was indecisive, but did not rule it out. “We’ll let her
tell us about whether we should go.”
Pure Fun returned $10.20 to her backers as the second choice
and earned $118,953 for owners Magdalena Racing LLC. This was the first Indiana
Oaks win for jockey Victor Lebron and trainer Kenny McPeek.