Lake Avenue emerges as an Oaks player in Demoiselle Stakes win

December 07, 2019 03:26pm
Lake Avenue emerges as an Oaks player in Demoiselle Stakes win
Photo: Robert Mauhar/NYRA

Godolphin’s Lake Avenue, a 12 3/4-length maiden winner last time for the Bill Mott barn, ran back to that performance while emerging as a key player for the 2020 Kentucky Oaks when winning Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Demoiselle Stakes.

After Critical Value broke on top in the 1 1/8-mile race for juvenile fillies, jockey Junior Alvarado took a flier on Lake Avenue, who soared by outside through an opening quarter mile in 24.70 seconds.

Over an Aqueduct track that had played nicely to front-runners on the afternoon, Lake Avenue, a daughter of Tapit, took them the rest of the way, clicking off fractions of 50.76 seconds for the half mile and 1:41.35 for the mile.

Over some slow dirt, the final time for 1 1/8 miles was 1:54.55.

"We thought this would probably be a logical spot to give her a start today just to see how she would get along with the nine furlongs," Mott said, with the Oaks running the same distance next spring at Churchill Downs. "Then that gives us some indication of where we're going next year."

Lake Avenue, a homebred, was making her third start. She ran second on debut going six furlongs, then aired next out going 7/8 of a mile.

For this effort, she earned 10 points toward qualifying for the Kentucky Oaks. Runner-up Maedean (4), third-place Blame Debbie (2) and Critical Value (1) in fourth will also enter the leader board for the May 1 race.

Lake Avenue was never much threatened, opening up in the stretch before the competition closed toward the wire.

"Nobody bolted to the lead," Mott said. "It would have been fine if someone opened up on us and we would have been laying second or third, but it didn't work out that way. It looked like she relaxed nicely down the backside.

"Then she's gawking around through the stretch. She's still a little green -- no company beside her. It appeared as though there was probably a little more in the tank."

Maedean, a last out stakes winner, had to rally from mid-pack to get up in a photo. She was the co-favorite with Alanda, the Shug McGaughey-trained, Grade 1-placed daughter of Blame who packed it in through the far turn and didn’t factor.

"The first turn kind of put her in a bad spot and she was kind of stuck there while they walked the dog," said Mark Hennig, who trains Maedean. "We would've loved to see more pace, obviously. From here, she'll be headed south."

Away at 4-1, Lake Avenue returned $10.80 to win.

Mott said Lake Avenue will ship to the Payson Park training center in Florida, the Hall of Famer's winter base, "and probably have a working vacation down there. There's no need to stop on her completely, but give her a little break. She's had three races now, so it's all good."

Mott, who checked the Kentucky Derby off this year with Country House, has yet to train an Oaks winner. In Lake Avenue, he has a filly who can overcome some adversity.

She tried to break through the gate when they loaded," Alvarado said of Saturday's Demoiselle, "and then at the break, she hopped a little bit. It wasn't the greatest start, but she has natural speed and Bill said to not take away anything that comes easily.

"After that, she recovered quickly and put herself in a good spot. I was just along for the ride after that. She has too much class."


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