Both of Saturday’s Kentucky Oaks (G1) points races featured terrific finishes. In the $260,625 Busher Invitational at Aqueduct, the 17-1 Water White nailed Kansas Kis at the wire in an all-longshot exacta as the 4-5 Lake Avenue faded to fourth. Later in the $300,000 Honeybee (G3) at Oaklawn Park, Shedaresthedevil needed a bit of luck to get through and score a poignant win for trainer Brad Cox.
E.V. Racing Stable’s Water White had competed in two prior Oaks points races at Aqueduct, finishing fifth behind Lake Avenue in the Dec. 7 Demoiselle (G2) and a distant second to American Pharoah filly Harvey’s Lil Goil in the Feb. 2 Busanda. Both were over 1 1/8 miles, and reverting to a one-turn mile – the track and trip of her maiden win – helped her earn her first stakes victory in the Busher.
Lake Avenue, who got away with soft fractions in the Demoiselle, encountered a different scenario as 31-1 Persisto pestered her through an opening quarter in :23.30. Although Lake Avenue began to put her away through a half in :46.81, the favorite was spent when the 13-1 Kansas Kis rolled up turning for home. Kansas Kis took control at the 6-furlong mark in 1:12.95 and drew away in an apparently winning move.
But then the more patiently handled Water White, who had been next to last early, gained momentum and caught Kansas Kis by a nose. Trained by Rudy Rodriguez and piloted by Jorge Vargas Jr., Water White stopped the clock in 1:40.21 and paid $37.20.
With 50 additional Oaks points in her account, Water White has a total of 54. Kansas Kis took home 20 points for a tough beat in her stakes debut.
There was a gap of 5 1/4 lengths back to another longshot, the 23-1 Panthera Onca, whose third was good for 10 points. Lake Avenue reported home a further 3 3/4 lengths astern. Barely salvaging fourth from Mo City, Lake Avenue received 5 points to up her total to 15. The 3-1 second choice, Maedean, was never involved in sixth. Persisto trailed, and Inveterate was scratched.
Water White, the initial stakes winner from the first crop of Conveyance, improved her resume to 6-2-2-0, $234,275. Bred by Richard Forbush in Kentucky, the gray sold for $50,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling. Her dam, Uzume, is an Unbridled’s Song half-sister to Grade 2 winner Madeo from the immediate family of French highweight 2-year-old colt Passion for Gold.
Shedaresthedevil, the slight third choice at 5-2, was making her second start for Cox. Purchased by Flurry Racing Stables for $280,000 at Keeneland last November, the Daredevil filly was runner-up in an entry-level allowance Feb. 15, and therefore still eligible for that condition. But Shedaresthedevil had prior graded experience when based with Simon Callaghan, and in light of her training since her seasonal reappearance, Cox decided to give her a chance in the Honeybee.
As an overeager Ring Leader spurted clear through splits of :23.73 and :47.89, Shedaresthedevil was nestled just off the pace by a ground-saving Joe Talamo. Alta’s Award, the 2-1 favorite, and the 5-2 Motu tracked the leader and took closer order through 6 furlongs in 1:12.83.
Motu was the first to challenge entering the stretch, but Alta’s Award began to assert wider out. Meanwhile, Shedaresthedevil was on hold behind them, looking for a safe path. A seam finally emerged between Ring Leader and Motu. Shedaresthedevil burst through to finish 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.38 and earned 50 Oaks points.
Alta’s Award, who switched back to her left lead late, was beaten just three-quarters of a length in second. Her promising stakes debut was good for 20 points. Motu tired in deep stretch and wound up another three lengths back in third, adding 10 points for a total of 16. Queen Bridget, the 68-1 longest shot on the board, came in fourth to grab 5 points, followed by Ring Leader, Raggedy Annie, Fiftyshays Ofgreen, and Turtle Trax. Back in Charge was scratched.
Shedaresthedevil has bankrolled $297,648 from her 6-2-2-1 line. Bred by WinStar Farm in Kentucky, she was produced by the Congrats mare Starship Warpspeed, also the dam of Grade 3-placed Mojovation. Shedaresthedevil initially sold for $100,000 as a Keeneland November weanling. She RNA’d for a mere $20,000 as a September yearling, but made a splash in her Churchill Downs debut for original trainer Norm Casse and Glencrest Farm.
At that point, Qatar Racing Ltd. acquired an interest in her. Transferred to Callaghan, Shedaresthedevil placed third to then-stablemate Amalfi Sunrise in the Sorrento (G2), faded to fourth in the Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf, and closed for second in the Anoakia. The Glencrest/Qatar partnership was dissolved by the ensuing Keeneland sale, but the Qatari connection was still in evidence in her new ownership group – Flurry Racing Stables, Qatar Racing Ltd., and Big Aut Farms.
It’s a tragic twist that Callaghan’s Amalfi Sunrise was not her only ultra-talented stablemate to succumb to misfortune. Once joining Cox, Shedaresthedevil could count the exciting Taraz as her colleague. Taraz was slated for the Honeybee, until her fatal breakdown in a Feb. 17 workout. Perhaps it’s poetic justice that the barn won it after all, with Shedaresthedevil stepping up to the plate.