If not for a race seven days earlier, Emollient would have been considered one of the most promising three-year-old fillies in the nation, and a big favorite in yesterday’s feature at Keeneland. What a difference a week makes. Rebounding from a 30 length drubbing at the hands of a spectacular performance by Dreaming of Julia in the Gulfstream Park Oaks, Emollient turned in her own huge performance with a front running tour-de-force yesterday over the Lexington oval’s Polytrack main surface. In so doing, Emollient went from being in danger of becoming a forgotten entity on the national scene, to again reclaim her position near the top of a very strong looking sophomore filly division only seven days later. Yesterday’s nine length score in the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes was also impressive enough for me to name her ZATT’s Star of the Week. Trained by Bill Mott, the good looking daughter of Empire Maker may have clinched things in the first furlong out of the starting gate. Easily winning the race to the first turn from her far outside post position, Emollient glided over to the rail under her Hall of Fame rider, Mike Smith, and quickly opened up a healthy working margin. While the other dozen fillies remained uninterested or unable to pressure the 6-1 shot at all, Emollient cruised through the backstretch in moderate fractions of :23.75, :48.12 and 1:13.13. As the large field jockeyed for a striking position behind her, Emollient began to make all that immaterial as she widened her lead with shocking ease.
Careening out of the far turn in the 1 1/16 miles affair, Emollient had all but ended any suspense as to who would win, but she would not let up on the competition. Widening her margin throughout the stretch, she hit the wire in 1:43.49, as she won the historic race by the fourth largest margin in its long history. Of the three fillies that won the Ashland by more, two of them, Myrtlewood and Princess Rooney, are members of racing’s Hall of Fame.
The Juddmonte Farms homebred now has won half of her six lifetime starts, while winning every other start since her career debut back in September. The Ashland represents her first stakes win of any kind, and comes in her initial foray into grade 1 racing.
While the lackluster finish in the Gulfstream Park Oaks was washed away by yesterday’s runaway, the fact remains that the filly that won that day will likely line up against Emollient again next time. And the Kentucky Oaks is far from only Dreaming of Julia, as other potential stars like Midnight Lucky, Beholder, Close Hatches, Unlimited Budget, and Rose to Gold look to be coming to Louisville in fine fettle. So, while the Kentucky Oaks will be significantly more difficult than yesterday, Emollient will head to the huge test off an excellent performance … a ZATT’s Star of the Week performance.
Photo courtesy of Keeneland/Coady Photography