BEHOLDER – The 2-year-old-champion-turned-serious-Kentucky-Oaks contender Beholder was out for a mile and one-half gallop Wednesday morning during the special Derby/Oaks training period following Churchill Downs
Jockey-turned-exercise rider David Nuesch did the driving on the bay daughter of Henny Hughes as trainer Richard Mandella looked on.
Nuesch, along with two
Mandella’s stable workers, had flown on the plane that brought Beholder,
as well as the Humana Distaff-bound stakes mare Rumor, to Louisville from California. He’s worked with Beholder
since she came into the Mandella barn early last year.
“She’s a smart one,” Nuesch
said. “And she’s a bit of a drama queen. She’ll overreact sometimes;
jump at something she sees or bothers her. Then other times something
will happen and she doesn’t turn a hair. She does
it all on her terms. She’s a good-feeling filly and those kind have a
right to be full of themselves.
“Last year when we won the
Breeders’ Cup and she had such a great year, it was hard to believe she
was only a 2-year-old. She did so many things just like she was an old
horse that sometimes I forgot who she was.”
Beholder, who was listed as the
7-2 co-second choice in Friday’s $1 million Kentucky Oaks (GI), drew
post three for the nine-furlong race. Was Mandella OK with that?
“I’m fine with it,” he said. “I’m just happy to be there.”
Beholder will school in the paddock today with horses from the fifth race.
CLOSE HATCHES/FLASHY GRAY – Trainer Bill Mott informed the Churchill Downs Racing Office late Wednesday morning that West Point Thoroughbreds and Tom Keithley’s Flashy Gray will scratch out of Friday’s
Kentucky Oaks. Daily Racing Form reported the filly has suffered a foot bruise.
The Fair Grounds Oaks (GII)
runner-up had gone to the track without incident during the Oaks and
Derby training session, visiting the paddock before galloping 1 3/8
miles from the seven-eighths pole to the half-mile
Juddmonte Farms LLC’s undefeated Close Hatches followed an identical regimen, visiting the paddock and galloping 1 3/8 miles.
With the scratch of Flashy Gray,
who had drawn post No. 10, outside filly Close Hatches will now get to
move in one spot in the starting gate.
“You don’t know whether
it’s good or bad, I guess,” Mott said of the outside draw. “There are
advantages and disadvantages. You like to be on the outside and if the
field separates itself you can tuck in
a little bit. Obviously you don’t want to be 10-wide around the turn.”
Close Hatches is 6-1 on the morning line.
DREAMING OF JULIA / PRINCESS OF SYLMAR / SILSITA / UNLIMITED BUDGET – The four fine fillies who comprise trainer Todd Pletcher’s Kentucky Oaks (GI) contingent moved trackside at 6 o’clock Wednesday morning at
Churchill Downs, each with some leg-stretching in order and on their minds.
Dreaming of Julia (with exercise rider Humberto Zamora up), Unlimited Budget (Patti Krotenko), Silsita (Nick Bush) and Princess of Sylmar (Jake Nelson) stepped
from the dark of the
morning into the bright of the illuminated racetrack and went about
their business with the professional air that marks virtually all of
Dreaming of Julia, the 3-1
morning-line favorite for the Oaks, galloped a mile and one-quarter.
Friday she’ll be handled by John Velazquez and break from post eight in the 10-horse field of 3-year-old fillies.
Unlimited Budget, co-second choice at 7-2 with Beholder, will depart from post four under Javier Castellano.Silsita gets the saddle services of Gary Stevens as they break from the rail with starting odds of 20-1. And Princess of
Sylmar will begin in post six for jockey Mike Smith, also at odds of 20-1.
Pletcher has won the Oaks twice previously – first with Ashado in 2004, then with Rags to Riches in 2007. Both were subsequently named champions.
MIDNIGHT LUCKY – Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman’s unbeaten filly Midnight Lucky galloped 1 ½ miles Wednesday morning.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert will saddle the Sunland Oaks winner, who drew post No. 2 and is 9-2 on the morning line. Baffert has won the Oaks twice: Plum Pretty in 2011 and Silverbulletday
PURE FUN – Magdalena Racing’s Pure Fun galloped one mile during the Oaks and Derby session under exercise rider Jose Cano.
The Pure Prize filly,
entering Friday’s race off a seventh against males in Keeneland’s
Lexington Stakes (GIII), didn’t get her first timed work of 2013 until
mid-February and has been playing catch up with
her conditioning since. There were no physical problems that forced her
to be away for so long, trainer Ken McPeek said, but she needed a break after eight starts as a juvenile, culminating with a Grade I win in December’s Hollywood Starlet.
gave her time off, which is typical for us with 2-year-olds,” McPeek
said. “But she ran late into the season so she was later getting
back into the game. She gained a bit of weight. I wanted to have her
ready for the Honeybee, which is a dirt race, but she just wasn’t ready
yet. She was still a couple of works behind schedule. And then we chose
the Bourbonette, which was not exactly the surface
or the timing that I wanted. That didn’t go well because she came out of
that race with a slight fever. I thought I was going to come back in
the Fantasy (GIII at Oaklawn) but that didn’t work either.
“I was kind of in
between and was like, well, what do I do now? There weren’t any more
preps after that; the only one I could find was the Lexington. Again, it
wasn’t the surface or the timing I wanted but
she needed the race in order to be competitive this weekend.”
While both of her
starts this year have been disappointing, Pure Fun’s most recent start
over the Churchill Downs surface – a 9 1/4-length allowance win in
November – allows for hope that she could still
put it all together on Friday.
“She likes this
ground,” McPeek said. “I do think she’s a dirt horse. We’ve got her
ready and I’m pleased with the way it’s gone. It was a little
unconventional but all of them are.”
ROSE TO GOLD – Kathleen Amaya and Raffaele Centofanti’s Rose to Gold walked
the shedrow at Barn 43 Wednesday morning, a plan she will follow
Thursday morning and Friday morning for trainer Sal Santoro.
Listed at 15-1 on the morning line, Rose to Gold drew post position nine for Friday’s Oaks and will be ridden by Calvin Borel.
“I would have preferred
somewhere from three through six, but it is what it is,” Santoro said.
“I am confident in Calvin and whatever he feels is the right thing,
he’ll do it.”
Rose to Gold is scheduled to school with horses in Wednesday’s first race.
“She never has had an issue at
the gate or in the paddock,” Santoro said. “She is pretty level-headed. I
know there is no way you can replicate 100,000 people. It will probably
be like Keeneland where everybody is
close. The day she won the Fantasy, there were 30,000 there that day, so
this will be three times more.”
The latest forecast for Friday
is for temperatures in the mid-70s with a 10 percent chance of rain.
Rose to Gold is two-for-two on sloppy tracks, including the 4 ½-length
victory in the Fantasy (GIII).
“The mud at Oaklawn the day of
the Fantasy was so deep that the woman who presented the trophy took her
shoes off to cross the track. She said she could wash her feet, but not
the shoes,” Santoro said. “So, if you
see somebody lighting a novena candle in the grandstand, it’s
SEANEEN GIRL – The 30-1 morning-line odds on Naveed Chowhan’s Seaneen Girl for the Oaks on Friday don’t concern trainer Bernie Flint.
“No pain, no gain,’’
Flint said. “She’s always been a longshot. Most of these classic races,
like the Kentucky Derby, I don’t care who’s the favorite. They’ve always
got a favorite. Very seldom do they win,
so go from there. The Oaks is the same way. It will be the same way,
because I’ve got a feeling I’m going to get them. … I’ve got ’em where I
Seaneen Girl went off
at 19-1 when she finished second in the Mazarine (GIII) at Woodbine,
31-1 when she won the Golden Rod (GII) at Churchill Downs and 24-1 when
she finished third in the Fair Grounds Oaks
She galloped a mile and a half Wednesday under exercise rider Edward “Rocky” Seely.
said. “She came out of her work (Monday) in very, very good shape. She’s
going as good as she’s been going.’’