Kentucky Oaks 2016 Barn Notes - 5/5/16
May 05, 2016 09:32am
Rachel's Valentina works at CD (4-28-16)
Photo: Churchill Downs/Coady Photography

CATHRYN SOPHIA – Cathryn Sophia’s owner, Chuck Zackney, was on hand to watch his filly gallop Thursday morning after the renovation break, her final track session in her preparation for tomorrow’s Kentucky Oaks.

The John Servis trainee, who was reluctant to exit the track after her Wednesday training session, was escorted off the track by a pony on Thursday without incident.

Zackney, of Afleet Alex fame, said he hasn’t run a horse at Churchill Downs since Afleet Alex finished third in the 2005 Derby. Afleet Alex, who was co-owned by Zackney, went on to win the Preakness (GI) and Belmont (GI).

Afleet Alex was named for his son, Alex, and Zackney has continued that tradition of naming horses for relatives. Cathryn Sophia is named after Zackney’s 19-year-old niece, a freshman at Rowan University in New Jersey.

“It’s actually going to be the first time Cathryn has seen her race,” Zackney said. “Everybody is really excited. I think we have about 20 people out here.”

The owner said he really tries to gauge a horse’s ability before attaching someone’s name to the horse.

“I asked John (Servis) if he thought this filly had a little bit of talent,” Zackney said. “I told John I wanted to name her after my niece, and he said that was a really good idea. I’m always looking to name horses after people, but I want to find out how the horses are before I name them. It’s a very tricky business, and I’ve been burnt several times with horses who haven’t been that successful.”

Zackney purchased Cathryn Sophia, the co-second choice in the Oaks, for $30,000 at auction and said the daughter of Street Boss completely surpassed his expectations. The filly enters the Oaks with a record of four wins in five starts, including the Forward Gal (GII) and Davona Dale (GII). Her sole defeat came in the Ashland (GI) when she finished third, beaten a half-length.

“This is a complete surprise,” Zackney said. “We were never expecting to be here at the Kentucky Oaks. It’s been a dream trip — since Oct. 30, her first race. Other than the last race, and losing by a couple feet, she has been perfect. We’re very optimistic; she has been training well and we’re happy with her post. We have our fingers crossed for tomorrow.”
DOTHRAKI QUEEN – Magdalena Racing’s Dothraki Queen galloped a little less than a mile and half under Erin Walker shortly after the track opened for training at 5:45 a.m.

Dothraki Queen is on the also-eligible list for the Kentucky Oaks and would need one defection by scratch time at 9 a.m. Friday to make the race. Should she run, she would be ridden by Gary Stevens.
Dothraki Queen won her first start at Churchill Downs in September in the Pocahontas (GII) and was placed third in the Golden Rod (GII) in November.

“If she gets in, I’d like to see her get comfortable,” trainer Kenny McPeek said. “Have a decent pace and have something to run at. They are not going to worry about us.”
DREAM DANCE – Stoneway Farm’s Dream Dance was on the track shortly after 6 o’clock Thursday morning to gallop a mile and three-eighths under Joel Dominguez.

“I wanted to get her out early when the track was good,” trainer Neil Howard said of his filly who galloped on a track labeled as “wet-fast.”

Brian Hernandez Jr. will be aboard Dream Dance in her quest for her first stakes victory.

“She has her work cut out for her,” Howard said. “I’d like to see her take advantage of the (early) speed.”
GO MAGGIE GO – Mike Tarp’s Go Maggie Go schooled at the starting gate and galloped 1 ½ miles under exercise rider Tammy Fox Thursday morning at Churchill Downs.

“She’s doing terrific,” Fox said. “She doesn’t act like a horse that’s run only twice. She’s very mature out there. She acts like an older horse. She does nothing wrong. She’s very professional out there.”

The late-developing Dale Romans-trained filly broke her maiden in her March 13 debut at Gulfstream Park by four lengths before scoring by 2 ¼ lengths in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (GII) April 2.
LAND OVER SEA – The chestnut Bellamy Road filly Land Over Sea was sent trackside at approximately 6:50 Thursday morning for a final bit of exercise before her Friday run in the Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI).

She had regular exercise rider Jonny Garcia up top and assistant trainer Jack Sisterson alongside on a pony as they went through the six-furlong gap on the Churchill Downs’ backstretch. The duo stayed together for a two-mile “backtracking” tour of the oval, a feat the filly accomplished with vim and vigor.

“She’s ready,” Garcia said on the way back to Barn 41.

Her trainer, Doug O’Neill, echoed that thought. “She is ready,” he said. “She had a good jog this morning. She’s feeling good and doing good. It’s time.”

Since entering stakes company six races back, Land Over Sea has been stakes-placed four times and won another. The four stakes placings were all in the wake of champion Songbird. There will be no Songbird tomorrow and O’Neill and the other Land Over Sea connections – owner Paul Reddam and rider Mario Gutierrez – will tell you readily they are thankful for that.

Land Over Sea is listed at 5-1 in the track’s morning line and will start from post 13 in the Oaks.
LEWIS BAY – Gazelle (GII) winner Lewis Bay changed up her routine slightly Thursday, training after her Kentucky Derby-bound stablemates My Man Sam and Shagaf instead of before. She came to the track at 9 a.m. and galloped 1 3/8 miles under Gian Cueva.  “She's doing well,” trainer Chad Brown said. “I'm happy with all my horses. They all drew good post positions, so we're good.”

Lewis Bay drew post three for Friday's Kentucky Oaks.
MO D’AMOUR/RACHEL’S VALENTINA – The pair of 3-year-old fillies trainer Todd Pletcher will saddle in the 142nd edition of the Kentucky Oaks (GI) Friday had their final bits of exercise Thursday morning at Churchill Downs, each galloping a mile and a quarter under exercise rider Amy Mullen.

Mo d’Amour went out with the barn’s two Derby colts – Destin and Outwork – during the 8:30 special training period allotted for Derby and Oaks horses. Rachel’s Valentina had put in her high stepping at 6:30.  Both galloped strongly, especially so in the case of Rachel’s Valentina, who has seemed to get stronger in her drills as the week has gone along.

Pletcher has captured the Oaks three times already -- with Ashado in 2004, Rags to Riches in 2007 and Princess of  Sylmar in 2013. He was asked if Rachael’s Valentina, who is the 7-2 morning-line favorite for this year’s edition, reminded him of any of his previous winners.

“She has the same kind of qualities they did,” he said.  “Class and ability. Ashado had won the Spinaway (at Saratoga in her 2-year-old season), just like she did. Rags to Riches was a Grade I winner. And Princess of Sylmar had run well with the top horses. Rachel’s Valentina has run against the best; she’s already shown her class.”

And around the barn?

“She’s just an absolute sweetheart,” the trainer said. “She’s so kind; a pleasure to be around. Rags to Riches was just the reverse. She was tough, almost mean. If you didn’t watch out, she’d hurt you.”

Rachel’s Valentina is by Bernardini and out of the 2009 Oaks winner (and Horse of the Year) Rachel Alexandra. She’ll be handled Friday by Hall of Famer John Velazquez as they start from post 11 in the 14-horse field.
MOKAT – Trainer Richard Baltas had planned a long, strong gallop for his filly Mokat on the morning before her run in the Kentucky Oaks (GI), but weather and track conditions at Churchill Downs caused the veteran conditioner to call an audible.

Instead, he had exercise rider Martin Ruiz mix in a bit of jogging and galloping when they went out on the “good” mile oval during the 8:30 Derby/Oaks training period. The Uncle Mo filly jogged one time around the track, then put in a gallop of about a mile and a quarter to finish up her exercise.

Baltas felt the filly benefitted from her leg stretching Thursday and indicated that – as is his style – he’ll put her back on the track for a one-mile jog Friday morning.

Mokat will be piloted by Flavien Prat in the $1,000,000 Oaks and begin her nine-furlong journey from post six.  She has been made 20-1 in the track’s morning line.
PAOLA QUEEN – Grupo 7C Racing Stable’s Paola Queen galloped 1 ½ miles at Churchill Downs Thursday morning.

The Gustavo Delgado-trained filly finished second behind Go Maggie Go in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (GII) after breaking her maiden in her fourth lifetime start.

“I really like Paola Queen. Her last work was very, very good. Her post position (nine) is good for her and she loves the Churchill Downs track,” Delgado said. “She’s getting better and better.”
ROYAL OBSESSION/TAXABLE/TERRA PROMESSA – Trainer Steve Asmussen's Kentucky Oaks threesome – Stonestreet Stable and Regis Farms LP's Royal Obsession, Winchell Thoroughbreds' Taxable and Stonestreet Stable's Terra Promessa – schooled in the starting gate Thursday before the renovation break. The fillies also had routine gallops.

Exercise rider Abel Flores was aboard Taxable and Terra Promessa. Exercise rider Carlos Rosas was on Royal Obsession.

All three fillies typically behave well at the gate, Asmussen said. Because Terra Promessa will break from the rail, gate behavior before the Oaks will be especially important for her, the trainer said.
VENUS VALENTINE – Rosemont Farm's Venus Valentine galloped a mile and a half after the renovation break Thursday under exercise rider Maurice Sanchez. Trainer Tom Amoss said the filly will walk in the barn Friday morning before racing in the Oaks that afternoon.

Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan's plan is simple. "I don't want to take her out of her game,'' Bridgmohan said. "It seems like she's just a one-run horse, so I'm not going to try to reinvent the wheel and do something creative.''

The field appears to have plenty of early speed. "Which there always is,'' Bridgmohan said. "So we're going to ride her the way she wants to be ridden and go from there.''
WEEP NO MORE – Ashbrook Farm’s Weep No More galloped a mile and a half with exercise rider Alex Gonzales shortly after the track opened for training at 5:45.

Corey Lanerie will have the mount on the co-second choice for the Oaks and break from post position two.

Lanerie rode the filly for the first time in winning the Ashland (GI) at Keeneland when she closed from far back to get her first graded-stakes victory.

“I hope they go quick up front (early) and we fall out the back door and follow them around,” said Jack Bohannan, assistant to trainer Rusty Arnold. “I hope it unfolds the same as the Ashland.”

Source: Churchill Downs


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