June 8, 2023

Oleksandra threads needle en route to Franklin County success

The Franklin County (G3) was the Australian-bred Oleksandra's first graded victory (Coady Photography)

Oleksandra got the pace and and just enough space to squeeze through between her two primary rivals in deep stretch to get the victory in the $150,000 Franklin County (G3) at Keeneland on Friday.

Under Joel Rosario, Oleksandra saved ground near the rear of the field down the backside as Girl Knows Best zipped through an opening quarter of :21.73 and a half-mile in :44.17 while being chased by 2017 Franklin County winner Morticia.

Continuing to hug the rail while improving position through the stretch, Rosario then shifted Oleksandra out to the two path when a hole developed between Girl Knows Best and Morticia. The five-year-old shot through with a burst and extended her lead to two lengths at the wire. The final time for 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf was 1:01.79.

Bred in Australia by owner Team Valor and trained by Neil Drysdale, Oleksandra paid $7 as the slight 5-2 favorite. Morticia edged Girls Know Best for second by a neck.

This was the fourth career stakes appearance and second black type win for Oleksandra. Third in the July 21 Royal North (G3) at Woodbine, she rebounded to take the $100,000 Smart N Fancy at Saratoga by one length over Franklin County also-ran Miss Gossip.

Last time, a tardy beginning and a speed-favoring course relegated Oleksandra to third in the Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint (G3) behind Morticia. Team Valor’s Barry Irwin was non-committal about next month’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) at Santa Anita, but said Oleksandra would stay in training next year. Her cumulative record now stands at 13-6-2-3, $359,853.

By the owner’s Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Animal Kingdom, whose breeding rights were sold to Japanese interests on Friday, Oleksandra is out of the South African Group 2 winner Alexandra Rose, by Caesour.