A field of nine sophomore fillies has been entered to go 1 1/16 miles on Saturday in the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2). The contest is part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series and is the first of six events to offer 100-40-20-10 points toward a starting berth in the Run for the Lilies on May 4 at Churchill Downs.
Five in the field are exiting runs in the final local prep ahead of Saturday’s Fair Grounds Oaks, the Rachel Alexandra Stakes (G2) on February 17. Of those, Classy Act performed the best when finishing second by 2 1/2 lengths.
The Bret Calhoun trainee was making her stakes debut in the Rachel Alexandra and attempted to lead all the way home. She was caught by Monomoy Girl in upper stretch and forced to settle for second under returning jockey Javier Castellano. Before that, Classy Act broke her maiden on the yielding turf at Fair Grounds and captured an allowance/optional claimer on the main track. The Into Mischief filly earned a career-best 93 BRIS Speed rating for her stakes bow and looks for a return to the winner’s circle here.
Wonder Gadot finished third in the Rachel Alexandra, 1 1/4 lengths behind Classy Act following a wide trip throughout. After taking her debut in a turf allowance at Woodbine last August, the Medaglia d’Oro filly immediately stepped up to face stakes company next out and hasn’t left. She suffered the only unplaced run of her career when sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) last November in her stateside bow at Del Mar, and closed out 2017 with a return to the winner’s circle in the Demoiselle Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct. The Mark Casse pupil just missed by a neck in the Silverbulletday Stakes at Fair Grounds on January 13 and will try to rebound here with John Velazquez back in the pilot’s seat.
Patrona Margarita, Testing One Two and She’s a Julie were the next three under the Rachel Alexandra finish line in that order.
Patrona Margarita was making her sophomore debut in the Rachel Alexandra off a five-month break, having last been seen taking the Pocahontas Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs in mid-September. The Calhoun trainee’s only other win also came at Churchill and she reunites with Brian Hernandez Jr. here.
Testing One Two brought a three-race win streak from Delta Downs into the Rachel Alexandra, scoring by a total 26 3/4 lengths including victories in the Take Charge Brandi Stakes and Louisiana Jewel Stakes. She faded to fifth in her Fair Grounds debut but will try graded rivals again for trainer Victor Arceneaux with regular rider Diego Saenz aboard.
She’s a Julie ran third to Classy Act in an allowance/optional claimer prior to her well-beaten sixth in the Rachel Alexandra. The Steve Asmussen trainee has failed to place in two stakes tries thus far and keeps jockey Corey Lanerie in the irons.
Chocolate Martini captured an allowance/optional claimer over the track for new trainer Tom Amoss on February 18 one race after being claimed from the Calhoun shedrow. Eskimo Kisses romped by 11 lengths in a similar event last out on February 22 over Oaklawn Park’s sloppy, sealed track. Mitchell Murrill returns to Chocolate Martini’s saddle while Florent Geroux takes the reins on Eskimo Kisses for trainer Kenny McPeek.
Completing the Fair Grounds Oaks field are Saguaro Row and America’s Tale, who were each defeated by double-digit lengths in their last races.