Friday’s Kentucky Oaks (G1) lost two contenders on Sunday, the day before entries are taken for the $1 million prize for three-year-old fillies.
Sunland Park Oaks romper Blamed, who would have brought a five-race winning streak into Friday’s Kentucky Oaks (G1), was ruled out by a fractured pastern. The connections of Red Ruby, the first on the bubble at number 15 on the points leaderboard, decided to give her more time, and that allowed number 16, Exuberance, to land a spot in the Oaks field – if she can make hasty travel arrangements from her Santa Anita base.
Blamed had just breezed a half-mile at Churchill Downs Saturday in :48.40, but exited the work with a small hairline fracture in her right hind pastern.
“It just showed up this morning,” trainer Joel Marr told track publicity. “She’s walking fine, but at a jog she’s off. It’s going to require probably 60-90 days (of time off). They say it’s recoverable 100 percent.
“I’m glad it happened now and not in the race. We’ll probably take her to Rood & Riddle (Equine Hospital) to have them look at it, and then possibly to WinStar (Farm) to rehab.”
Red Ruby’s withdrawal from consideration, although more discretionary, was likewise in her best long-term interests. The Martha Washington winner has not raced since her fourth in the March 10 Honeybee (G3), for she was forced to skip the Fantasy (G3) due to reportedly minor cuts on her hind leg.
“The owners (Sandra Sexton and Brandi Nicholson) and I talked yesterday evening and we have decided not to go in the Oaks and instead target some of the races a little later in the year,” trainer Kellyn Gorder said.
“We just feel we have missed a bit too much training to expect Red Ruby to be 100 percent while facing the best fillies in the country. There’s a lot of racing on down the road.”
Exuberance’s trainer, Ian Kruljac, is now trying to work out last-minute shipping to get her to Churchill Downs. The Seltzer Thoroughbreds colorbearer was runner-up in the Las Virgenes (G2) but only fourth, beaten 14 lengths, by Midnight Bisou in the Santa Anita Oaks (G1) last out.
“No, we don’t have a spot on a plane yet,” Kruljac said. “I’m going to call my owner and we’ve got to see what we can do.”
“Nothing there yet (regarding naming an Oaks jockey). “First we’ve got to get that plane. We hope we can work it out.”
There could be another defection from the top 14, depending upon whether speedy Amy’s Challenge goes for the Oaks or shortens up to seven furlongs for the Eight Belles (G2) on the undercard.
As of late last week, trainer Mac Robertson had said that they’d take until entry time Monday to decide.
Should Amy’s Challenge opt for the Eight Belles, Loooch Racing Stables’ Heavenhasmynikki would be next in line to draw into the Oaks field. She’s followed on the bubble list by Kelly’s Humor, who will be monitoring Exuberance’s travel status.
Kelly’s Humor is the third Oaks candidate for trainer Brad Cox, already well positioned with one of the favorites in Monomoy Girl and Sassy Sienna safely in the field.
“They’re all doing well,” Cox said of his trio. “They’ve come out of the works good. I was happy with how they did yesterday. The track maybe wasn’t as tight as it’s been the last few days, but they all galloped out really good and that’s what we like to see.
“Even Kelly’s Humor galloped out good. She’ll run if she can get in, but, otherwise, she’ll run in the Eight Belles.”