BEHOLDER -- Reigning 2-year-old filly champion Beholder took
another step down the road to further stardom when she galloped Tuesday
at Churchill Downs in advance of her date Friday in the $1 million
The racy bay daughter of
Henny Hughes had more than a few interested parties on hand to see her
strut her stuff, including her Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, her owner and the guy behind Kentucky’s historic
Spendthrift Farm, B. Wayne Hughes, and Spendthrift’s farm manager, Ned Toffey.
And she didn’t disappoint them. Sporting her usual black ear muff training hood and handled by jockey-turned-exercise rider David
Nuesch, the $1.5-million earner skipped over the big oval in strong fashion, covering a mile and one-half before she was done.
Noting that he’d galloped her
nine furlongs Sunday in her first appearance on the track following her
trip in from California, then 10 furlongs Monday, dry-wit specialist
Mandella smiled when he offered:
“We’re ready for the Belmont now.”
Mandella will give a leg up to rider Garrett Gomez Friday,
then watch them break from the No. 3 post in the 11-horse Oaks lineup.
She is the 7-2 co-second-choice on the morning line for the Oaks.
CLOSE HATCHES/FLASHY GRAY – Juddmonte Farms LLC’s undefeated Close Hatches and West Point Thoroughbreds and Tom Keithley’s Flashy Gray both walked through the paddock and had “normal gallops”
of 1 ¼ miles during the Oaks and Derby session, according to trainer Bill Mott.
The Mott duo will break next
to each other from the outside posts – 10 for Flashy Gray and 11 for
Close Hatches – but the trainer did not express concern about any
“I’d like to be somewhere between one and 11,” Mott deadpanned.
Flashy Gray is 15-1 on the
morning line and Close Hatches was installed as the 6-1 fifth choice
despite a perfect record.
I would say one of any five or six of these would be the favorite any other year,” Mott said.
DREAMING OF JULIA / PRINCESS OF SYLMAR / SILSITA / UNLIMITED BUDGET – Trainer Todd Pletcher had his four Kentucky Oaks (GI) fillies out early Tuesday morning, sending them trackside prior to 6 o’clock in his
first set of the day, each with their regular exercise riders on board.
But the other three 3-year-olds each galloped a good mile and a quarter before they got to return to their Barn 34 stalls. Patti
Krotenko did the steering on the undefeated Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) winner Unlimited Budget; Humberto Zamora was
the pilot for the Gulfstream Park Oaks (GII) heroine Dreaming of Julia, and Princess of Sylmar,
a winner of four of six starts and second last out in the Gazelle (GII) at Aqueduct, had her guy Jake Nelson in the boot.
Pletcher likes the way his
quartet is coming up to their nine-furlong testing and has said it is
only a matter of the minor details from here on out.
One of those details will
happen this afternoon when horses come over for Churchill’s second race
and all four of his fillies will “paddock” with them.
Dreaming of Julia, who will break from post position eight, was made the 3-1 morning line favorite by track handicapper Mike Battaglia. Unlimited Budget, the 7-2 co-second choice, will break from post position
four, Silsita (20-1) from post one and Princess of Sylmar (20-1) from post six.
MIDNIGHT LUCKY – Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman’s unbeaten filly Midnight Lucky jogged and schooled in the gate in her return to the track Tuesday morning. She breezed five furlongs
in :59.60 Sunday.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said
his Sunland Park Oaks winner will be put to the test Friday against what he has described as a very strong field.
“She’s only had two outs; her
weakness is her foundation,” Baffert said. ”There are some good fillies
in there. She has to break well. She ran a sprint and went a mile. Now
she’s going a mile and an eighth against
the best fillies. She has her work cut out for her.”
Midnight Lucky, listed at 9-2 on the morning line, will break from post position two under Rafael Bejarano.
PURE FUN – Magdalena Racing’s Pure Fun came to the track during the Oaks and Derby session under exercise rider Jose Cano.
“The filly jogged off the right direction and galloped a mile-and-a-half,” trainer Ken McPeek said. “She picked it up from the three-eighths.”
McPeek’s Derby duo of Frac
Daddy and Java’s War opened up their gallops at the quarter pole but
Pure Fun is getting a little extra exercise because she has not put in
an official work since her most recent start in
the April 20 Lexington Stakes (GIII).
“She came out of it good,”
McPeek said of the effort in Keeneland’s final 3-year-old stakes event.
“I felt like she really needed the race over there. She was a bit behind
the eight ball. We maybe laid her up a little
longer than we should have or needed to. When we brought her back she
gained more weight. The race did her more good than sitting on her and
working her a couple more times so that sets her up good.”
Pure Fun’s past three starts
have been on synthetic surfaces, including a win in December’s Hollywood
Starlet (GI). In her most recent attempt on dirt, she won a Churchill
Downs allowance in November by more than nine
lengths. The runner-up in that race, Dancinginthecircle, dominated a six-figure stakes race in her next start.
Pure Fun, listed at 30-1 on the morning line, will break from post seven under Julien Leparoux.
ROSE TO GOLD – Kathleen Amaya and Raffaele Centofanti’s Rose to Gold had her final morning on-track exercise for Friday’s Oaks by galloping 1 ½ miles after the break under Denis Roberson.
“She will walk the next two mornings and not go to the track Friday morning,” trainer Sal Santoro said. “I have done the same thing for all of her races and if it isn’t broken I am damned sure not going to
change it now.”
Santoro arrived in Louisville
on Monday and saw his star filly for the first time since the day after
she won the Fantasy (GIII) on April 10 at Oaklawn Park.
“I had some things that had to be taken care of at home but I had no worries at all with Denis here and (jockey) Calvin (Borel),” said Santoro, who has 20 horses stabled at Calder and another
eight in Ocala.
Santoro is relishing the atmosphere leading up to the Oaks and Kentucky Derby.
“I’m excited. This
is holy ground here,” said Santoro, standing outside Barn 43 which this
week houses one of the favorites for the Derby in Orb and horses for Todd Pletcher. “There’s Shug (McGaughey),
Todd … and me.”
The only bad performance on Rose to Gold’s seven-race resume is a 12th-place finish in the Alcibiades last October at Keeneland over the Polytrack surface.
“We are very
confident that is what it was,” Santoro said referring to the
all-weather surface. “There was no other reason for it. It was totally
out of character for her.
“(Jockey Jesus) Rios
said she would start to get going and her feet would slip. She kept
getting frustrated and the harder she tried, the worse it got.”
Rose to Gold, 15-1 on the morning line, will break from post position nine.
SEANEEN GIRL – Trainer Bernie Flint sounded like a proud papa as he watched Seaneen Girl walk around the shedrow Tuesday morning.
The filly bounced out of her workout Monday – a half-mile in :48.80 – feeling spry, Flint said.
“Look at her,’’ he said. “She’s alert. Ears are up. … Look at my girl walk around there.’’
Flint and owner Naveed Chowhan will be participating in their third Oaks. They finished sixth with Red Cherries Spin in 2006 and sixth with Runway Model in 2005.
Flint claimed Red Cherries Spin for $75,000, and her next start was in the Oaks. She finished 5 ½ lengths behind winner Lemons Forever.
horse,’’ Flint said. “I liked her. I figured we could take a shot and do
some good. It’s amazing that you could claim one and bring her over
there and see her run that well.’’
Runway Model was
third in the Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) and second in the Ashland (GI)
before running in the Kentucky Oaks, in which she finished 7 ¼ lengths
behind winner Summerly. She made most of
her money as a 2-year-old, winning the Alcibiades (GII) and finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI).
“She was a
fantastic 2-year-old, and I realized it,’’ Flint said. “This horse
(Seaneen Girl) wasn’t used like that one was. When you do Breeders’ Cups
and everything else, trust me, that’s squeezing that
lemon pretty dry. (Runway Model) was a good 2-year-old, really a good
2-year-old. Made almost $800,000 with her and sold her for over $2
million. We paid $50,000 for her as a 2-year-old. I thought it was a
pretty good deal.’’
The deal for
Seaneen Girl has worked out well, too. Flint purchased Seaneen Girl
privately in October at Woodbine -- for a price he wouldn’t disclose –
after she finished second in the Mazarine (GII). In
her two starts for Flint, she won the Golden Rod (GII) and finished
third in the Fair Grounds Oaks (GII).
Listed at 20-1 on the morning line, Seaneen Girl will break from post position five under Rosie
Napravnik in the Oaks.