Four Grands a 'special' homebred with Kentucky Oaks aspirations

Four Grands a 'special' homebred with Kentucky Oaks aspirations
Photo: Ryan Thompson/Gulfstream Park

The group behind Albaugh Family Stables certainly knows how to buy the right horse, evidenced by multiple recent trips to the Kentucky Derby. Meanwhile, a growing breeding program could set them on a course for the Kentucky Oaks.

Homebred filly Four Grands will take her next step on Friday as an expected heavy favorite in Gulfstream Park’s eighth race, an allowance optional claiming feature, after scratching from a potential start in the March 28 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2).

The Dale Romans trainee earned such a spotting off a March 8 debut in which she won by 6 1/4 lengths when geared down toward the wire by jockey Luis Saez.

“Luis came off her and said, ‘Man, this is a special horse. I think you need to give this horse a shot,’ ” said Jason Loutsch, racing manager for Albaugh Family Stables.

So connections entered the Gulfstream Park Oaks, only to see it attract an overflow field.

“We weren’t going to put her in against that many horses the first time around two turns,” Loutsch said. “We elected to scratch there and look for an allowance race. We think this is a good spot on Friday.

“If all goes well, and she can run like we think she can, we’ll look to get more aggressive going into the summer and fall.”

Four Grands continues a successful bloodline for owner billionaire businessman Dennis Albaugh, whose son-in-law is Loutsch. The Honor Code filly is the first foal out of Taylor S, a stakes-winning daughter of Miss Macy Sue, who has also produced Liam’s Map and the Albaughs’ Not This Time.

Not This Time, retired due to injury after a close second in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, is now at stud along with other former Albaugh Family Stables runners such as Brody’s Cause and Free Drop Billy, both Grade 1 winners who competed on the first Saturday in May.

Taylor S was bred to Bernardini and then American Pharoah since producing Four Grands, while the rest of the Albaughs’ 10-deep broodmare band is designed to support their stallions.

“We’re excited to have a homebred that can win some races at that level, and we own the mare,” Loutsch said. “It’s exciting. The bloodline there has been great for the family.”

Saez has the return call on Four Grands, who drew post four for Friday’s one-mile race. She’s squarely the one to beat, but it’s a deep field of nine with trainers Shug McGaughey (Finding Fame) and Christophe Clement (Super Cute) also represented by first-out winners.

After Four Grands’ debut, Romans said, “She’s got license to be a good one. She’s got pedigree. She’s always done everything right.”

“Initially, she had a couple things pop up that we couldn’t get really aggressive with her,” Loutsch added. “We really took our time with her and didn’t send her to Dale’s until really late. We didn’t know what to expect, to be honest. Dale thought she was talented, but until you see them actually run, you really don’t know. That was a great surprise to see that.”

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