April 20, 2024

Wet Paint gets up late in Coaching Club American Oaks

Wet Paint (left) reeled in Sacred Wish late in the Coaching Club American Oaks (Photo by Coglianese Photos)

Wet Paint rallied dramatically to deny Sacred Wish in Saturday’s $485,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) at Saratoga, reinvigorating her three-year-old filly divisional hopes with the neck decision. Now a four-time stakes winner for owner/breeder Godolphin and trainer Brad Cox, the late-running daughter of Blame earned her first Grade 1 victory.

“Super classy and overcomes a lot,” Cox said. “It doesn’t really matter what you run her on – wet track, fast track. She closes into soft paces like she did today, she closes into a fast pace. This is her thing in regards to just kind of flopping out of the gate and finding her way and finishing up. I told Flavien (Prat) today, ‘Just ride her like a turf horse.’ He knows what to do and you don’t have to tell him anything. That’s really what it comes down to – just let her break and kind of find her way around there, and when she starts picking up, just keep her out of trouble.”

Off as the 1.45-1 second choice, Wet Paint trailed in the five-horse field until launching her move in the stretch. The complexion of the race changed when Southlawn stumbled out of the starting gate, leaving She’s Lookin Lucky as the lone speed, and the pacesetter established moderate opening splits in :24.67, :48.81, and 1:12.59 while being tracked in second by Sacred Wish.

Sacred Wish surged to a clear lead when She’s Lookin Lucky gave way leaving the far turn, and she looked strong leading by about three lengths with an eighth of a mile remaining. But Wet Paint was getting cranked up on the far outside, discovering her best stride in deep stretch to nail Sacred Wish in the final jumps.

“That’s the way she runs,” Prat said. “She jumped well out of the gate – better than usual. After that, that’s where I found myself and I was happy with that. I was travelling well all the way around. When I picked it up, I took her a little wide to get going, but when I tipped her out and I got her in the clear, she made a run.

“Turning for home I thought I was going to win, at the eighth pole I was questioning it, and then she finally found another gear to get by that filly (Sacred Wish).”

Wet Paint completed 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.68.

Runner-up in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2), Sacred Wish was overlooked at 10-1 following a second in a June 16 allowance at Belmont Park.

“She ran really good, second best,” Manny Franco said of Sacred Wish. “I have to give credit to the winner. She ran huge, too. My filly ran super, too.”

Gambling Girl, the 6-5 favorite, was never a serious factor, winding up 8 1/2 lengths back of Sacred Wish in third. She’s Lookin Lucky and Southlawn came next under the wire.

A maiden winner the second time out, Wet Paint came on this winter at Oaklawn Park, recording three straight convincing tallies in the Martha Washington S., Honeybee (G3), and Fantasy (G3). Her win streak came to an end with a fourth as the favorite in the Kentucky Oaks (G1), and the bay filly was exiting a runner-up in the June 17 Monomoy Girl S. at Ellis Park.

“It was huge to get a Grade 1 with her,” Cox said. “She accomplished so much this winter at Oaklawn – three big races and then she ran well in the Kentucky Oaks. She was very unlucky probably to not be third and then she probably sat a bit closer to a hot pace than she’s normally used to. Her last race was a good run and I was very happy with it. She was running on, she was just up against it when the overnight came out that day. We were using it as a stepping stone to this race here.”

Wet Paint has now bankrolled $1,057,175 from a 9-5-2-0 record. The Kentucky-bred is the first foal to race from the Grade 3-placed Street Cry mare Sky Painter, a daughter of the multiple Grade 2-winning Skylighter.

The $600,000 Alabama (G1) at 1 1/4 miles on Aug. 19 is likely next for Wet Paint.

“That’s the logical spot moving forward,” Cox said. “We’ll talk it over with the Godolphin team, but I think a mile and a quarter is definitely something she’s going to be able to handle based off her running style and showing today that she likes Saratoga.”

Roses for Debra made it three straight on turf in the Caress (Photo by Janet Garaguso/Coglianese Photos)

Caress (G3)

John O’Meara’s Roses for Debra continued her ascension in the female turf ranks, dominating the $194,000 Caress (G3) at 5 1/2 furlongs in her first graded attempt. Transferred to Christophe Clement over the winter, the four-year-old filly notched her third straight win since switching to turf this spring.

Irad Ortiz Jr. was up on the 1.75-1 favorite, and Roses for Debra stalked a length back in second as Bubble Rock competed the opening half-mile in :45.29. She reeled in the pacesetter after straightening for home in upper stretch, driving clear to score comfortably by 2 1/4 lengths. Wakanaka closed belatedly to be a neck better than Bubble Rock, and Poppy Flower and Our Flash Drive completed the order.

Roses for Debra finished 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:02.39 on the good turf. By Liam’s Map, the gray filly was bred in Pennsylvania by Blackstone Farm, and Roses for Debra sold for $25,000 as a yearling at the 2020 Keeneland September sale. She’s the second stakes winner from the unraced Bernardini mare Essential Rose, who is out of the Grade 2-winning Storm Cat mare Essential Edge.