December 1, 2023

Chocolate Martini shakes up Kentucky Oaks picture with Fair Grounds Oaks upset

Chocolate Martini just holds off Eskimo Kisses in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) on Saturday, March 24, 2018, with jockey Mitchell Murrill aboard (c) Lou Hodges Jr./Hodges Photography

Double Doors Racing LLC’s Chocolate Martini was sent off at 13-1 in Saturday’s $392,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) but ran like a favorite to reel in even-money choice Classy Act before holding the fast-closing Eskimo Kisses by a head on the wire.

Chocolate Martini settled just one removed from last in the seven-filly field as Classy Act headed straight for the front when the gates opened. The favorite established splits of :23.39, :46.28, 1:11.02 and 1:37.67 while chased by 28-1 longshot She’s a Julie. Classy Act shook loose from that one upon hitting the stretch, but the rest of the field was closing.

Chocolate Martini was going best of all under jockey Mitchell Murrill, entering the final turn three wide and exiting it five wide. The Broken Vow filly easily ran down Classy Act before sticking her head in front on the wire as Eskimo Kisses rallied from last.

Chocolate Martini completed 1 1/16 miles over Fair Grounds’ fast main track in 1:44.44 and returned $29.80 for the win. She also garnered 100 points toward a spot in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) starting gate, as the Fair Grounds Oaks was worth 100-40-20-10 points to the respective top four finishers. That was enough to see the bay lass debut in number one on the Kentucky Oaks Leaderboard.

Eskimo Kisses took home 40 points while making her stakes bow in this spot. Wonder Gadot finished three parts of a length behind in third, good for 20 points to bring her Leaderboard total for 44 and place her in seventh on the list, one spot in front of Eskimo Kisses. Classy Act completed the top four under the wire and rounding out the order of finish were She’s a Julie, Saguaro Row and America’s Tale.

Chocolate Martini made her first five starts for trainer Bret Calhoun, breaking her maiden in her fourth try by 6 1/4 lengths on January 12 over Fair Grounds’ main track. She switched to that venue’s turf for a fourth-place run next out and was claimed out of that February 2 contest by conditioner Tom Amoss.

The bay sophomore returned 16 days later back over the dirt at Fair Grounds and scored by a neck in her first start for her new connections. She made her stakes debut in the Oaks off that win and improved her career record to 7-3-0-1, $278,636, on Saturday.

Bred in Kentucky by Savino A. Capilupi, Chocolate Martini is out of the dual stakes-placed Successful Appeal mare Nicksappealinglady. She is a half-sister to stakes heroine Nicky’s Brown Miss and her second dam is That’s My Double, herself a half-sister to multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Ladies Din.


Tom Amoss, trainer Chocolate Martini, winner

“We were very, very lucky to get this horse just as she was starting to become a better racehorse, which you see a lot with the young horses. I can’t stress enough how lucky we were to get her while she was maturing.

“You can’t keep these owners away from the Kentucky Oaks (G1). As long as she’s healthy we’re going to run there.”

Florent Geroux, jockey Eskimo Kisses, second

“I was scrubbing the whole way. They went pretty quick and they came back, but it was too late. I thought I had it at the top of the stretch.”

Javier Castellano, jockey Classy Act, fourth

“She’s the type of horse if she wants to go she’ll get rank in the first part of the race. In my opinion, she doesn’t want to go that far. At two turns she gets too rank and she’s not going to get there.”