February 27, 2024

Ever So Clever looks for clearer sailing in Iowa Oaks

Ever So Clever captured the Fantasy Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park with jockey Luis Contreras aboard on Friday, April 14, 2017 (c) Oaklawn Park/Coady Photography

Ever So Clever had all of the pace to run at but little of the racing luck in her longshot bid at the May 5 Kentucky Oaks (G1). Thursday night at Prairie Meadows, the Steve Asmussen trainee will look to benefit from the former and avoid the latter in the $200,000 Iowa Oaks (G3) over 1 1/16 miles.

Upset winner of the Fantasy (G3) in April at odds of 15-1, Ever So Clever will have in the saddle Mike Smith, who in the Kentucky Oaks guided the winning Abel Tasman from far back off an early speed duel. Ever So Clever was similarly near the rear of the field, but was bumped and steadied in the congested field and settled for ninth.

The four fillies breaking inside Ever So Clever in the Iowa Oaks all have early foot. Chanel’s Legacy, an Iowa-bred, traded decisions with Ever So Clever at Oaklawn over the winter, besting that rival in the $125,000 Martha Washington but weakened to second in the Fantasy after leading most of the way. She narrowly held on to win the $78,000 Panthers going a mile at Prairie last month as the 1-5 favorite.

Tapa Tapa Tapa, who captured the $55,000 Suncoast at Tampa Bay Downs in February, faded after flashing speed in the Honeybee (G3) and Black-Eyed Susan (G2), but is likely to show zip again from post 1. Delta Downs Princess (G3) heroine Shane’s Girlfriend, meanwhile, looks to regain her best form after sub-par efforts in the Santa Ynez (G3) and Rachel Alexandra (G3), while Churchill allowance winner Pinch Hit stretches out around two turns for just the second time in her career.

Jordan’s Henny, twice placed in graded company at Gulfstream over the winter, enters off a 7 1/2-length allowance win at Churchill, while Swing and Sway returns to open company following a dominating sprint stakes win against New York-breds at Finger Lakes. Natalie’s Mischief was a surprise second to Chanel’s Legacy in the Panthers, getting within a neck of the heavy favorite at odds of 39-1.