• La Coronel (5-1) leads them all the way in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup.Posted 4 days ago
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  • Bolt d'Oro is the 12-1 favorite in the current Las Vegas line for Kentucky Derby 2018.Posted 7 days ago
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  • Unique Bella (1-5) returns with a clear victory in the L. A. Woman (G3) at Santa Anita.Posted 10 days ago
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Breeders' Cup 2017
HRN Original Blog:
Kentucky Oaks Runner

17 Days and Counting: The Novel Nine

Just two weeks and four short days remain until the running of the 137th Kentucky Oaks on Friday May 6th at Churchill Downs. In stark contrast to the current disarray that the three-year-old male division finds itself in with heavy Derby favorites falling by the way side left and right, the three-year-old filly division remains stronger than ever and appears to be headed for one of the deepest Oaks fields in modern history. With less than three weeks remaining to the most prestigious race in the nation for sophomore fillies and very few legitimate preps lingering on the horizon the hard part now comes down to sorting out the colorful cast of talented fillies all aiming for their chance at racing immortality.

Just two race went off this weekend with the potential to advance a legitimate Kentucky Oaks contender. The Grade 2 Beaumont Stakes at Keeneland was easily the premier three-year-old filly race of the weekend. The seven furlong race was won by five effortless length by Turbulent Descent but trainer Mike Puype has made it clear his charge will bypass the Kentucky Oaks in favor of the nation’s premier filly sprint races with her next goal being the Acorn Stakes (gr.1) at Belmont on June 11th. Grade 1 winner Tell A Kelly ran last of five in the Beaumont Stakes in her three-year-old debut, showing none of her usual late kick.
[Will Turbulent Descent still be #1 on HRN's 3-Year-Old Filly Rankings page after the Kentucky Oaks?]

The Instant Racing Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Saturday served as the other legitimate Kentucky Oaks prep over the weekend with the Bob Baffert trained May Day Rose winning the 1 mile race in front running fashion over a solid field of fillies that included Dixie City, Hearts On Fire, Tapit Dancer and Scarlet Mist. The Grade 3 winning filly finished 4th behind Zazu, Turbulent Descent and Plum Pretty in the Las Virgenes Stakes (Gr.1) and 5th in the Santa Anita Oaks (Gr.1) behind Turbulent Descent and Zazu once again before winning the Instant Racing. She ran the mile in a solid time of 1:38.25 after relaxing well on the front end under jockey Martin Garcia. It’s unclear whether or not she will participate in the Kentucky Oaks but word should be out in a couple of days from Bob Baffert on what the plan for the filly will be.  
1)      Joyful VictoryThe Fantasy Stakes (gr. 2) was her second straight romp after she blew the Honeybee Stakes (gr.3) field out of the water. She has not recorded any works since her April 10th Fantasy win but with trainer Larry Jones at the helm this filly is in excellent hands. Jones knows better than most how to get a filly prepared for the big spring classics.
2)      R Heat Lightning – It’s getting harder and harder to keep her in the second spot, especially after her latest work. As if her two consecutive victories in the Davona Dale (gr.2) and Gulfstream Oaks (gr.2) aren’t enough to strike fear in the hearts of her opponents her stunning :47.50 four furlong work most certainly is. Her Saturday work easily earned her the bullet when she traveled the fastest of 94 horses running the distance.
3)      KathmanbluShe started a strong drive in the Ashland Stakes (gr.1) before flattening out and finishing third but still not too far behind the winner. Her hard-fought effort there will give her some strong conditioning that will serve her very well in the weeks leading up the Oaks. McPeek knows how good his filly is and you can bet he’ll have her ready to run to the best of her ability when she returns to Churchill Downs.
4)      ZazuShe stepped things up considerably in her most recent work on April 17th, getting six furlongs in 1:13.20 at Hollywood Park. She improved markedly from her last six furlong work on April 9th when she went in 1:14.60. I’m not a fan of the long nine week break she’ll come into the Kentucky Oaks off, but with her solid juvenile form and two runs in Grade 1 races earlier in the year will have given her a good foundation to work off of.
5)      Plum PrettyShe turned in a sparkling six furlong work at Santa Anita on April 15th, going the distance in 1:12.60, ranking as the second best work of the day after having posted a bullet four furlong work the week before. I love the distance progression of her races; 6 furlong, 7 furlongs, 1 mile and last out 1 1/16 miles in the Sunland Park Oaks (gr.3). There seems to be more and more upside to this filly, the only negative here is the possibility that she may have peaked a bit too early in her 25 length Sunland Park Oaks romp.
6)      Wyomia She could possibly skip the Kentucky Oaks and instead run in the Black Eyed Susan (gr.2) at Pimlico on Preakness day May 20th. In the Ashland jockey Freddie Lenclud lost his iron and at the 3/16ths pole and was unable to ride Wyomia the remainder of the race, meaning she did the running all on her own determination when she was closing in on Lilacs and Lace in the late stages of the Ashland (gr.1). I hope she is able to make the Kentucky Oaks in fine form because if she makes it she’ll be certain to make a strong run.
7)      Summer SoireeAfter posting two consecutive five furlong bullet works at Oaklawn Park she slowed things up a bit in her most recent move, going in 1:00.40 over Keeneland’s all weather track. The daughter of War Front demonstrated how talented she was with a 10 ¾ length win in the Grade 3 Bourbonette Oaks after winning an allowance race by 9 ¾ lengths. Her only flaw seems to be her lack of ratability and in a Kentucky Oaks with R Heat Lightning, Joyful Victory, Kathmanblu, Wyomia, Zazu and Plum Pretty just waiting to pounce in the stretch she’ll have to learn to ration her speed.
8)      Arienza Arienza was one of three late Kentucky Oaks nominee’s along with St. John’s River and Mardi Gras winner Street Storm. She ran into a monster when finishing second to Joyful Victory in the Fantasy Stakes (gr.2) on April 10th in only her third lifetime start. As a daughter of champions Giant’s Causeway and Azeri she has tremendous potential and has already exhibited exceptional ability since breaking her maiden first out in early March. She isn’t a definite for the Kentucky Oaks but if she enters her works will tell us a lot about her readiness to handle such a tough field.
9)      Lilacs and LaceI have to admit I’m still not crazy about this Flower Alley filly but you can’t argue with her record; three wins in her last four starts. Two starts back she finished fourth behind Summer Soiree in the Bourbonette off more than a two length gap between races. Her front-running Ashland Stakes win was impressive the way she continued to pull away from most of the field down the homestretch.

Honorable Trio:
Daisy Devine, Holy Heavens and Dancinginherdreams. Daisy Devine has won three of her last four starts but her Fair Grounds Oaks win was what really opened the eyes to her potential. She has posted two solid works since her Grade 2 win. Holy Heavens once again finished under a full head of steam to finish third in the Fantasy Stakes after finding her best stride a little late. She previously finished second in the Honeybee Stakes with a similar late closing rally. Dacninginherdreams threw in a horrible clunker in the Ashland Stakes (gr.1) finishing 9th but I still think she warrants recognition. If she turns in some strong works before the Oaks she’s back in the running as a main contender.


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Older Comments about 17 Days and Counting: The Novel Nine...

Joyful looked dominant at OP, which has been the key prep as of late. But I will be pulling for Khatmanblu as well!
I can't argue with your rankings, Brian, but I am leaning to a Kathmanblu, Zazu, and Wyomia box for my play ... I have a feeling that this year's Oaks will be won from well off the pace.

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 Meet Brian Appleton 

Thoroughbred Horse Racing is my passion.  It started when at the age of 9 I found a book called Come On Seabiscuit by Ralf Moody on my Mother’s shelf.  Reading that book was one of the most exciting things I ever did as a kid. I read that book so many times that I had entire chapters committed to memory and the dust jacket worn and ripped beyond recognition from so much use. From that point on I was hopelessly addicted, reading every book on horse racing I could get my hands on, especially racehorse biographies. In 2009 I began my own blog called Rail Runner on wordpress and have continued to blog there to this day.

Curlin is probably my favorite racehorse of all time. Being able to attend six of his races will always be one of the highlights of my life. Whenever I need to re-find some inspiration in my life all I need to do is watch one of his incredible victories and relive the memories. Rachel Alexandra ranks right up there too. As any horse racing fan will tell you it’s almost impossible to choose just one favorite and I am no exception. Phar Lap and Citation are another two of my all time favorites and the list could go on and on.

I was homeschooled my entire life by my parents and graduated High School in 2006 at the age of 17.  Currently I am completing my Marketing degree with the hopes of entering the Thoroughbred Horse Racing field as a writer/journalist , or in the marketing/advertising/promotions side of the industry.

It is my dream to someday become a thoroughbred racehorse owner and win major races across the United States. Who wouldn't want that, right?  For about 1 ½ years I was part owner in a racehorse, Lord Greystoke raced, and owned by Hibiscus Stables. I was able to attend one of his races at Belmont Park on Kentucky Derby day, May 2, 2009 and it was an incredible experience. While Lord Greystoke finished 7th in the race, being able to stand in an owner’s box not 30 feet away from Penny Chenery’s owner’s box was one of the most amazing feelings in the world.

Later in the year Lord Greystoke was finally able to break through with a 4 ½ length win which made me feel like one of the world’s most accomplished thoroughbred owners and further fueled my appetite. I think it would be rally neat to win the Appleton Stakes (Gr.3) at Gulfstream Park, even though I'm generally a bigger fan of dirt racing I can't help but think it would be neat for me to win a race with the same name as my last name.

That’s me in a nutshell, just a very passionate, driven young guy that wants to be a part of this amazing sport and share the adventure with other fans.

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