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HRN Original Blog:
Kentucky Oaks Runner

A Record Breaking Santa Anita Oaks

The Santa Anita Oaks (gr.1) was not just another 3-year-old filly race this year; it will go down as one of the best performances of the season. Billed as a two horse race between the competing queens of the West Coast that’s exactly what it came down to at the wire.


May Day Rose predictably took the lead as the field of five fillies broke from the gate, A Z Warrior in close pursuit as the undefeated Kilograeme took third. Those three ran a length clear of Turbulent Descent in fourth as Zazu took up the rear of the field, another length behind Turbulent Descent. May Day Rose rolled through an opening quarter mile in :23.31 and the half in :46.67 with the positions unchanged. Turbulent Descent edged up to be right behind Kilogaeme by the half mile point with a two length gap back to Zazu. As the field approached the far turn May Day Rose began to inch away from A Z Warrior as Turbulent Descent began to mount her rally. Zazu kicked it into gear a moment later and the match was set from there. Midway around the turn May Day Rose began to fall back as Turbulent Descent under a full head of steam overtook A Z Warrior in the midst of making a bid for the lead and swept to the front. Zazu was still two lengths back, matching Turbulent Descent stride for stride. As the field came off the turn it was Turbulent Descent the one to catch. Down the homestretch Turbulent Descent exploded to a two length lead over A Z Warrior at the urging of jockey David Flores, blazing ahead with determination. The scene changed in a matter of seconds as Zazu found her best stride and began to gain ground with a tremendous rally. Turbulent Descent continued to accelerate down the stretch as Zazu reached her flank, then surged to within half a length of the lead.
The pair flashed under the wire nearly inseparable. Turbulent Descent emerged victorious, finishing ahead of Zazu for the third time in four meetings, this time by just a neck. She stopped the clock in a stakes record time of 1:41.05, eclipsing the mark set by Bold ‘n Determined in 1980 for the 1 1/16 mile distance. A few strides after the finish Zazu had rolled a length clear of Turbulent Descent and looked like she wanted to keep going.

After the race Turbulent Descent’s trainer Mike Puype showed a great deal of discernment when talking about his charge. After stating that he thinks Turbulent Descent is a brilliant filly and “tops” in the country he said “I think she’s maxed out at a mile and a sixteenth.” He said the plan is to point the talented filly to one turn Grade 1 races throughout the year such as Belmont’s Acorn Stakes in June and Saratoga’s Test Stakes in August. “I’d say the Kentucky Oaks is out of the picture” Puype stated in the winner’s circle. I’m impressed with how level-headed Puype was after just winning a Grade 1 race with a filly tons of people think has a good chance to win the Kentucky Oaks and I would have to say I agree with his assessment. Turbulent Descent could turn out to be much like Indian Blessing who won the 3-Year-Old Filly Eclipse Award for her 2008 campaign that consisted mostly of one turn races.

While the Kentucky Oaks is most likely out of the picture for Turbulent Descent it became a more determined goal than ever for Zazu. She’s the filly that won’t quit, in the last five starts of her career Zazu has been flying at the end of her races, closing ground like an express train. Each and every run she makes up more ground in less time and looks like a fresh horse coming back after the race. She is going to love the extra sixteenth of a mile in the Oaks and one thing you can count on with this filly is that she will be flying at the end. That style sure served Blind Luck well last year. Could it be that the Kentucky Oaks will be won by a come-from-behind filly two years in-a-row? It’s still too early to make any predictions but Zazu looks better and better every race. Trainer John Sadler was very happy with his filly’s effort saying “She ran great, and she looks like she’ll be ready for the Kentucky Oaks.” Owner Jerry and Ann Moss appear to once again have one of the best female closers in the country. Zazu may not be a Zenyatta but she sure is a classy replacement.

A Z Warrior finished more than 5 lengths back of the fabulous duo up front in her first race since finishing last in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies in early November of last year, but she ran very well to finish third more than 4 lengths ahead of Kilograeme. She should only improve off this hard run effort next out, much like Turbulent Descent did in this race, but her immediate goals are unclear for now.
[Is A Z Warrior ranked too high at #7 on HRN's 2011 Kentucky Oaks Contenders list?]

Overall the Santa Anita Oaks produced two brilliant efforts from two of the best sophomore fillies in the country, laid waste to a 30 year stakes record and gave fans an exciting, heart-pounding finish that is sure to become a classic.

Photo Courtesy of Benoit Photo.
 

 

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Older Comments about A Record Breaking Santa Anita Oaks...

Me as well Brian, I also still like Dancingingherdreams better than Zazu but she hasn't had as good a compaing this year.
I still like Kathmanblu as my top choice in two months, but I must admit, the California duo put on a strong show yesterday.
Agreed Mary, the Oaks will be a fantastic race this year but if all these fillies stay sound until the Breeders' Cup it's going to be truly special.
Well....wow. Aren't our fillies coming together and showing their talents? As much as I'm a huge fan of Kentucky that special weekend, I am really looking forward tot he first weekend in Nov!!!!

Categories

 Meet Brian Appleton 

Thoroughbred Horse Racing is my passion.  It started when at the age of 9 I found a book called Come On Seabiscuit by Ralf Moody on my Mother’s shelf.  Reading that book was one of the most exciting things I ever did as a kid. I read that book so many times that I had entire chapters committed to memory and the dust jacket worn and ripped beyond recognition from so much use. From that point on I was hopelessly addicted, reading every book on horse racing I could get my hands on, especially racehorse biographies. In 2009 I began my own blog called Rail Runner on wordpress and have continued to blog there to this day.

Curlin is probably my favorite racehorse of all time. Being able to attend six of his races will always be one of the highlights of my life. Whenever I need to re-find some inspiration in my life all I need to do is watch one of his incredible victories and relive the memories. Rachel Alexandra ranks right up there too. As any horse racing fan will tell you it’s almost impossible to choose just one favorite and I am no exception. Phar Lap and Citation are another two of my all time favorites and the list could go on and on.

I was homeschooled my entire life by my parents and graduated High School in 2006 at the age of 17.  Currently I am completing my Marketing degree with the hopes of entering the Thoroughbred Horse Racing field as a writer/journalist , or in the marketing/advertising/promotions side of the industry.

It is my dream to someday become a thoroughbred racehorse owner and win major races across the United States. Who wouldn't want that, right?  For about 1 ½ years I was part owner in a racehorse, Lord Greystoke raced, and owned by Hibiscus Stables. I was able to attend one of his races at Belmont Park on Kentucky Derby day, May 2, 2009 and it was an incredible experience. While Lord Greystoke finished 7th in the race, being able to stand in an owner’s box not 30 feet away from Penny Chenery’s owner’s box was one of the most amazing feelings in the world.

Later in the year Lord Greystoke was finally able to break through with a 4 ½ length win which made me feel like one of the world’s most accomplished thoroughbred owners and further fueled my appetite. I think it would be rally neat to win the Appleton Stakes (Gr.3) at Gulfstream Park, even though I'm generally a bigger fan of dirt racing I can't help but think it would be neat for me to win a race with the same name as my last name.

That’s me in a nutshell, just a very passionate, driven young guy that wants to be a part of this amazing sport and share the adventure with other fans.