Dreaming of Julia’s performance in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks this past Saturday was nothing short of monstrous. Treating her competition like a bunch of Wednesday claimers, rather than the promising stakes fillies that they are, the daughter of A.P. Indy effortlessly tracked her recent vanquisher, Live Lively, before dragging rider John Velazquez to the lead. From there the fleet filly furthered her lead every step home, and hit the wire an obscene 21 ¾ lengths clear of the graded stakes winner, and farther ahead of the rest. By way of comparison, the Triple Crown nominated filly’s final time was a full 1.9 seconds faster than Orb needed to win the Grade 1 Florida Derby a few races later on the card. Dreaming of Julia did all of this without seeming to be under serious pressure. Impressive can be overused in horse racing, but this one … was impressive. All of this leads to great speculation. What’s next for Dreaming of Julia?
The Kentucky Derby would seem to be an attractive and realistic option, if not for one thing. That new pesky point system has set back equal rights decades. Earning 100 points in the Gulfstream Park Oaks is like traveling with only an American Express card when all your destinations accept nothing but Visa. Those hundred points are only good for the Oaks. Because of her gender, they do her zero good for entry into the 139th edition of the Run for the Roses. Pletcher and the team certainly would have thought long and hard about sending their star filly to the Derby under the old system, he’s said as much. In fact, I’m pretty sure that is the way Team Julia would have gone if she was already qualified. While there are races still to come, like the Arkansas Derby, in which she could earn points, my guess is they will decide not to push the valuable filly just to try to qualify for the Derby.
The Kentucky Oaks would then seem to be the ticket. Along with the Alabama, it is our nation’s most coveted race for three-year-old fillies, after all. Dreaming of Julia should then run as the race favorite one day before the Derby against other fillies. It might be anticlimactic for those thinking that Julia may be a super filly, but it is an absolutely excellent option for her, assuming that the Derby is a no go. Riding the speculation train just a little bit farther, what if the Todd Pletcher trained filly wins the Oaks in convincing style?
The Preakness has to be a strong consideration. In carrying the same gold and burgandy colors, that Rachel Alexandra did in winning the Kentucky Oaks by a pole four years ago, to a similar type of visual orgasm, Dreaming Of Julia sparked an instant firestorm of comparison with the great filly. I’m not ready to go there, but I do remember what Stonestreet did with their brand new acquisition back in 2009. Rolling the dice with all the cunning of the Mel Gibson character, Bret Maverick, the late Jess Jackson wheeled Rachel right back in the Preakness. Not only did they successfully pry Calvin Borel’s hot hands off the Derby winning Mine That Bird, but they ended up winning racing’s Middle Jewel too. It only seems fitting that Stonestreet would try to emulate this ambitious path of greatness.
Or maybe the Belmont Stakes is in play here on Dreaming of Julia’s dance card. Keep in mind, the last time a Todd Pletcher filly looked this good, he opted to wait, after an impressive Rags to Riches win in the Kentucky Oaks, for the Belmont. You all remember how that turned out. Oh, and by the way, Dreaming of Julia’s sire, A.P. Indy won the Belmont, as did his best daughter to date … Rags to Riches.
No matter what happens in the next few months, one thing is clear. Dreaming of Julia is the kind of horse in which big dreams are made.