December 3, 2023

Aunt Pearl, Dayoutoftheoffice return to action on Oaks undercard

Aunt Pearl
Aunt Pearl wins the Jessamine Stakes at Keeneland (Coady Photography)

Edgewood S. (G2) — Race 7 (2:09 p.m. ET)

The $300,000 Edgewood S. (G2) at Churchill Downs has been a magnet in recent years for the previous season’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) winner. When Aunt Pearl lines up for the 1 1/16-mile grass test on Friday, she’ll look to emulate the likes of Sharing and Catch a Glimpse, both of whom won, while avoiding the bad luck incurred by Newspaperofrecord and Rushing Fall.

Like some of her predecessors, Aunt Pearl enters with an impeccable record. The Brad Cox trainee won all three starts last year, a 2 1/2-length win in the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland following a triumph in the Jessamine (G2) by a similar margin.

The cast recruited to face Aunt Pearl, who looms as the controlling speed, is not a deep one. Gift List figures to give a good account of herself after running second in the April 3 Appalachian (G2) in her U.S. debut. Shadwell homebred Zaajel has more dirt influences than turf ones in her immediate family, but the Forward Gal (G3) tries something new after finishing up the track in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) last time.

Eight Belles S. (G2) — Race 9 (4:04 p.m. ET)

One of last season’s top juveniles but unable to get ready in time for the Kentucky Oaks (G1) this spring, Dayoutoftheoffice will instead make her season debut in the $300,000 Eight Belles S. (G2) over seven furlongs.

Winner last season of the Schuylerville (G3) and Frizette (G1), Dayoutoftheoffice held what looked like a winning advantage in upper stretch of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). However, the daughter of Into Mischief was out of gas and was passed by Vequist and just barely held second over Girl Daddy. Neither of those two rivals made the Oaks field, either.

With plenty of other speed signed on, the pace of the Eight Belles figures hot. Santa Ynez (G2) heroine Kalypso shortens up after going long in her last couple starts, while Abrogate and Windmill both bring gas from their wintertime showdowns at Oaklawn.

Potential beneficiaries include Souper Sensational and Li’l Tootsie, third and fifth, respectively, in the Fair Grounds Oaks last time; Beaumont (G3) runner-up Slumber Party; and the Bill Mott-trained pair of Obligatory and Caramel Swirl.

Twin Spires Turf Sprint (G2) — Race 10 (4:55 p.m. ET)

Diamond Oops captured the race last fall with a rail-skimming trip from post 1, but will break farther outside in his title defense of the $200,000 TwinSpires Turf Sprint (G2) over 5 1/2 furlongs. The multi-surface talent, trained by Patrick Biancone, will look to get back on the winning track after dull tries last fall in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) and Mr. Prospector (G3).

Just Might has run races fast enough to win, but will have to perform much better than he did earlier this month when beating only two home in the Shakertown (G2). Seventh in the 2020 renewal of this race, Carotari has rebounded this term to finish second by a neck to Fast Boat at Sam Houston and then taking the Silks Run S. at Gulfstream last time.

Somebyay enters off a photo-finish loss in the San Simeon (G3) at Santa Anita, while Fiya gets a positive class hike and test after winning five straight last season, including the Maryland Million Turf Sprint and Claiming Crown Canterbury.