Plum Pretty wins the 137th Kentucky Oaks (Grade 1)
(Image : NBC - Footage : Churchill Downs)
KENTUCKY OAKS (Grade 1)
6 May 2011
When she first got off the van, I called her “Plum Ugly,” trainer Bob Baffert admitted as he headed to the winner’s circle after the G1 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs yesterday. “But now she’s beautiful.”
Peachtree Stable’s Plum Pretty (Medaglia d’Oro) gave Baffert his second Oaks winner; his first was Silverbulletday (Silver Deputy) in 1999. A 6-1 chance, the bay tracked Summer Soiree (War Front) through fractions of :23.65, :46.99 and 1:11.25. She drove to the lead when they straightened into the lane and looked home free, but jockey Rosie Napravnik wheeled 16-1 St. John’s River (Include) off the rail inside the eighth pole and the longshot came flying. It was close, but the wire came just in time for Plum Pretty to hold on by a neck. “Everybody talks about how long the stretch here is at Churchill Downs,” Napravnik said after the race. “I wish it was just a nose longer today.”
Plum Pretty made one start at two, graduating at first asking at Oak Tree October 27. The bay came back to be third in the January 15 G2 Santa Ynez Stakes and she was 5 1/2 lengths behind winner Zazu when completing the triple in the February 5 G1 Las Virgenes Stakes. Connections hit the road in search of a softer field, and boy, did they find one. The Pennsylvania-bred was bet down to 1-20 in the March 27 Sunland Park Oaks and made those slim odds look right on the money as she romped home a 25-length winner over five grossly overmatched rivals.
The Peachtree colorbearer proved that effort was no fluke yesterday. Content to settle off the runaway Summer Soiree (War Front) early, she had no trouble collaring the tiring leader as they raced around the bend and was flicking her ears as they hit the lane.
Jockey Martin Garcia sent her on about her business and she had opened up daylight by the time they hit the sixteenth pole. St. John’s River moved off the rail and hit the gas, but ran out of real estate late. “Great trip; great filly,” Garcia said. “I couldn’t have asked for more.” Added trainer Bob Baffert, “That was awesome. We hoped she’d run like that. She thought she was at Sunland Park.”
KENTUCKY OAKS (Grade 1)
ST. JOHN’S RIVER
SUAVE VOIR FAIRE
Daniel Michael Smithwick
LILACS AND LACE
Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News