West Point Thoroughbreds and Tom Keithley’s Flashy Gray, runner-up in Oaklawn’s Grade III Honeybee Stakes March 9 as the odd-on choice of the Arkansas fans, gets a chance to make amends for that defeat when she is pegged as the solid 6-5 morning line choice in Saturday’s $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks on Louisiana Derby Day at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
Five of the last eight winners of the Fair Grounds Oaks – the filly equivalent of the Louisiana Derby – have gone on to victory in Churchill’s Grade I Kentucky Oaks on the day before the Kentucky Derby. The most recent of those was Brereton Jones’s Believe You Can, who accomplished the double Oaks parlay last spring.
Prior to her Honeybee second-place effort Flashy Gray had broken her maiden with an impressive 10 1/4-length score in her final start as a juvenile last fall at Churchill and made it two straight tallies with a 4 3/4-length win in allowance and $75,000 optional claiming company Feb. 10 at Gulfstream in her first start as a sophomore.
Flashy Gray, set to break from post five, is conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott and will have the riding services of Junior Alvarado for Saturday’s Fair Grounds Oaks.
Capable of providing strong competition for Flashy Gray is Repole Stable’s undefeated Unlimited Budget, already familiar to Fair Grounds fans after capturing the Grade III Rachel Alexandra here last month with an impressive 3 3/4-length tally. Unlimited Budget, installed as the 9-5 second choice in the Oaks early line, was also 1 1/2-lengths the best in Aqueduct’s Grade II Demoiselle last November.
Conditioned by five-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher, Unlimited Budget will be ridden by Javier Castellano and will break from the outside seven post.
Not to be discounted in the Fair Grounds Oaks is Maggi Moss’s So Many Ways, who won Saratoga’s Grade I Spinaway and Grade III Schylerville last summer to complete an undefeated juvenile campaign. Established as the 6-1 third choice in early Oaks line, So Many Ways suffered from a poor start in her only appearance as a sophomore in a minor stakes at Gulfstream Park March 1 and finished third.
So Many Ways, assigned post four, is trained by Anthony Dutrow and will be ridden by Fair Grounds-based Brian Hernandez Jr., lately known for winning the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic last November on Janis Whitman’s Fort Larned.
Completing the field for the Fair Grounds Oaks, with respective jockeys, post postions and early odds assigned, is Holt Racing et al.’s Promise Me More, Miguel Mena (Post 1, 10-1); Naveed Chowhan’s Seaneen Girl, Martin Garcia (Post 2, 12-1); Susan Knoll’s Blue Violet, James Graham (Post 6, 12-1) and Valene Farm’s Ante Up Annie, Calvin Borel (Post 3, 15-1).