Unlimited Budget Leads Pletcher's Kentucky Oaks Workers

Unlimited Budget 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Spotswire
BEHOLDER (No. 1) – Spendthrift Farm’s three-time Grade I winner Beholder arrived at Churchill Downs at 1:16 p.m. (all times Eastern) Saturday after beginning her day with a flight from Southern California that arrived at 11:22 a.m. in Lexington. Beholder is stabled in Barn 45.
CLOSE HATCHES (No. 5) / FLASHY GRAY (No. 6) – West Point Thoroughbreds and Tom Keithley’s Flashy Gray worked five furlongs in 1:01.00 Saturday for trainer Bill Mott.
Flashy Gray, who finished second in the Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) in her last start, started the workout a length behind stablemate Cost Effective and finished five lengths in front. The splits were :13 for the first eighth of a mile, :25.20 for the quarter, :37 for three-eighths and :49 for the half. Flashy Gray galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.80.

“I thought it was very good,’’ Mott said. “They went off nicely. They were off easy in 13 and picked it up. It’s all we needed. I think the most important part was that the rider (Penny Gardiner) felt like (Flashy Gray) was there when she needed her.’’

Close Hatches, who is undefeated in three starts, the latest the Gazelle (GII), galloped under exercise rider Joanna Trout.

The filly is from the first crop of Juddmonte stallion First Defence, who was a Grade I winner for the farm. His dam, Honest Lady, was a Grade I winner for Juddmonte. Bobby Frankel trained First Defence and Honest Lady.

DREAMING OF JULIA (No. 4) / PRINCESS OF SYLMAR (No. 7) / SILSITA (No. 9) / UNLIMITED BUDGET (No. 3) – Trainer Todd Pletcher’s quartet of Kentucky Oaks (GI) candidates were out with his barn’s first set Saturday morning, heading trackside from Barn 34 shortly after 6 o’clock.
First on the big Churchill Downs oval was runaway Gulfstream Oaks (GII) winner Dreaming of Julia, who put in a half-mile drill of :51 under exercise rider Humberto Zamora. The possible favorite for the nine-furlong Oaks worked on her own and showed an early split of :25.80 and an out time of 1:03.60.

Next came the tandem of Silsita (with Hall of Fame rider Gary Stevens aboard) and Unlimited Budget (handled by exercise rider Patti Krotenko). The Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) winner Unlimited Budget, moving on the outside, proved best by a couple of lengths over her workmate, timing out at :59.60 for five furlongs. Silsita’s final clocking was 1:00 Their splits were: Unlimited Budget -- :12, :23.60, :35.20 and :47, with an out time of 1:13.60 for six furlongs. Clockers caught Silsita in early fractions of :12, :23.60 and :35.20.

Krotenko, a long-time member of the Pletcher work crew, had nothing but good things to say about Unlimited Budget’s exercise. “She’s a good work horse; that’s her,” the exercise rider said. “But she felt very strong this morning. She’s definitely on the muscle and ready to roll.”
Stevens, in the midst of a riding comeback following seven years of other pursuits, felt his filly’s work might have been better than it appeared. “I took a hold of her at the three-eighths (pole),” he said. “She was very keen going to the pole and I didn’t want her kicking all the way in. But she got over the track well and it was a good effort for her.”

Next from the Pletcher clan came Oaks eligible Princess of Sylmar with exercise rider Jake Nelson up alongside the sophomore stakes filly Fusaichiswonderful. The former, a daughter of the A.P. Indy sire Majestic Warrior, did her running on the outside and registered splits of :13.20, :25,20 and :37.60 en route to a final time of :49.20. Her workmate was given the same final clocking. Princess of Sylmar galloped out in 1:01.60.

Five-time Eclipse Award winner Pletcher had watched his fillies go from the Churchill grandstand and said he liked what he saw.
“I thought they all did well,” he said. “Unlimited Budget was our strongest and fastest today. She’s doing well. Dreaming of Julia – we tried to do with her what we did coming up to the Gulfstream Oaks (a :50.80 breeze prior to her near-22-length tally). We didn’t want her going too fast. We wanted to save something with her.
“All in all, it was good. I was happy with the whole bunch.”
MIDNIGHT LUCKY (No. 8) – Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman’s unbeaten gray filly Midnight Lucky galloped 1½ miles with exercise rider Jorge Alvarez up for trainer Bob Baffert.

Midnight Lucky opened her career on Feb. 13 with an easy 7 1/4-length victory over maidens. She followed up that win with an eight-length triumph in the Sunland Park Oaks on March 24.

PURE FUN (No. 11) Magdalena Racing’s Pure Fun galloped 1 ½ miles after the morning renovation break under exercise rider Jose Cano for trainer Ken McPeek.
ROSE TO GOLD (No. 2) – Kathleen Amaya and Raffaele Centrofanti’s Rose to Gold walked the shedrow at Barn 43 a day after working a half-mile in :48.20 under jockey Calvin Borel.
Borel, who was elected to the Racing Hall of Fame on Friday, conducted business as usual Saturday morning. He was aboard the first horse on the track at 5:40, working a horse for his brother Cecil.

“I never imagined something like this,” Borel said of having any Hall of Fame dreams when he started riding. “It is especially special this time of year getting ready for the Derby and the Oaks.”

Trained by Sal Santoro, Rose to Gold is scheduled to walk again Sunday and then return to the track Monday. Santoro is scheduled to arrive in Louisville Monday night and be at the track Tuesday.
SEANEEN GIRL (No. 10) – Trainer Bernie Flint said Saturday that he’s thrilled to have Rosie Napravnik riding Seaneen Girl. On Friday, Flint announced that Napravnik is replacing Martin Garcia on the filly, owned by Naveed Chowhan.

“When she became available, I immediately went that way,’’ Flint said of Napravnik. “She rode for me in New Orleans. Believe it or not, I’ve had good luck with her. She’s got the hands.’’

Seaneen Girl, who finished third in the Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) in her only start this year, isn’t difficult to ride, Flint said.

“Very kind, no problem whatsoever,’’ Flint said. “There’s no magic key with her. She tries hard, and she loves the racetrack. And I figure, too, a girl riding on Oaks day – (Napravnik) won the race last year – I think she’s a wonderful rider. I think the world of her. She’s a very nice person, and that means a lot to me. And I know her, and I feel comfortable with her. And that’s why I did what I did.

“When that opportunity came about – I mean I never would have let the other guy go, but he has no business with other horses here. And he asked me if there’s anything, and I said, ‘No, I don’t have nothing else. So I find out she was available, I got a hold of Steve Bass (Napravnik’s agent) as soon as I could.’’

Under exercise rider Edward “Rocky’’ Seely, Seaneen Girl galloped a mile and a half Saturday.



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