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HRN Original Blog:
Kentucky Oaks Runner

Kentucky Oaks Updates: Firing off the Works

The 136th Kentucky Oaks is just one week away. In seven short days one of the nation’s leading fillies will cross the line first to seize leadership of the division, or at least that how it seems it should work out on paper. In the real world who knows what could happen. Long shots have been having a heyday in recent Kentucky Derby preps but the only major upsets to happen most of this year in the Oaks division was when Daisy Devine turned the tables in the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr.2) and when Lilacs and Lace lit up the tote board at odds of 48-1 in the Ashland Stakes (gr.1). Even those two upsets were won by fillies that had legitimate shots in their races and sported solid records, they were simply overlooked.

Stability and consistency seems to be the ‘name of the game’ for the Oaks fillies in 2011 and it appears that this year’s field of fourteen could come up full of all legitimate contenders. There are a few fillies I would toss as of now but honestly from a handicapping standpoint almost the entire prospective field has come up with strong form. Before we get into that though there is some Oaks news that needs telling.

Celebrity chef Bobby Flay has thrown his skillet into the Kentucky Oaks fire with the recent purchase of three year old filly Her Smile, most recently seen finishing second to Hot Summer in the Comely Stakes (Gr.3) at Aqueduct on Wood Memorial day. The stakes winning daughter of Include has made seven lifetime starts since August of 2010 winning three including the 6 ½ furlong Donna Freyer Stakes at Philadelphia Park in which she defeated a very weak field. She started the year finishing fourth to Dynamic Holiday in the Florida Oaks on turf before finishing third to Wyomia in the Suncoast Stakes. Her second place finish to Hot Summer in the Comely was actually a very good performance, she just got outkicked in the stretch. Her 2011 record shows a promising progression from a fourth place finish to a third and finally a second place showing but I don’t think she’s ready to handle the Oaks field yet and win. She looked really good on the turf and I think she likes the 1 mile distance better than stretching out to 1 1/16 or 1 1/8. She’s a toss for me.

[Is Joyful Victory too low at #6 on the HRN 3-year-old Filly rankings page?]

St. John’s River took to the Churchill Downs track on Thursday for a strong five furlong work that went in 1:00.80, ranking as the second fastest of 23 horses working the distance. According to trainer Andy Leggio his trainee will get the next two days off before a series of gallops to prepare her for the Oaks. Leggio was pleased with her work and stated that she “Seemed to handle this track better”, also saying that he feels she is very close to peaking and should like the added distance in the Kentucky Oaks. Interestingly enough St. John’s River is a daughter of Include just like new Oaks contender Her Smile. I don’t think tossing this filly is a good idea; she’s an excellent worker and always shows up in her races. She’ll be up against it with just four lifetime starts in a 14 horse field but she could also present some nice value on exotics.  Street Storm also worked on Thursday but is more likely to run in the Edgewood Stakes at Churchill Downs on Oaks day due to her lack of graded stakes earnings.

Arienza took things to a whole new level this morning at Churchill Downs when she blazed through five furlongs in :59.40 to a bullet, working the fastest of 58 horses going the distance. In her last start she finished a distant second to Joyful Victory in the Fantasy Stakes (Gr.2) while appearing to tire in the stretch, just holding off Holy Heavens for the second spot. As a daughter of Giant’s Causeway and Horse of the Year Azeri this young filly has enormous potential and a family reputation to live up to. She will skip the Oaks and instead run in the Eight Belles the same day.
Suave Voir Faire also worked a strong five furlongs Friday morning, finishing up in :59.80. I’ll still be tossing her.
Delightful Mary turned in a solid 1:01.60 five furlong work at Churchill this morning. She has only raced twice this year winning her first start and then fading badly to finish 7th in the Grade 1 Ashland. She has been withdrawn from Oaks consideration after trainer Mark Casse stated he doesn't believe she is back to her strong juvenile form. The plan is to send her back to Canada to sort things out.


Some of the big guns will be tuning up with their final Oaks works this weekend including Kathmanblu and Lilacs and Lace on Saturday and Joyful Victory on Sunday. Newly arrived at Churchill Downs is Summer Soiree who could work either Saturday or Sunday. 

Stay Tuned for more Oaks updates.

Photo Courtesy of Coady Photography
 

 

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Older Comments about Kentucky Oaks Updates: Firing off the Works...

It certainly looks like she'll have the best shot of the long-shots to take down the favorites but she's not my win pick as of now. I loved how she was flying in the Fair Grounds Oaks, a swift and sustained drive....kind of the like the female version of Nehro maybe? :)
Brian, like you, I am becoming more intrigued with St. John's River all the time. What do you think, can she pull off a shocker???

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 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.