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Aaron previews the 2023 Martha Washington Stakes from Oaklawn Park, then gives his top picks & long shots from this 2023 Kentucky Oaks (G1) prep race. The Kenny McPeek-trained Defining Purpose is a short-priced favorite to win following her 2022 Year’s End Stakes win over the same course, but did Aaron take the chalk in this spot? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!
Program favorite Defining Purpose for trainer Kenny McPeek and unbeaten Olivia Twist for trainer Todd Fincher headline the $200,000 Martha Washington Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles Saturday at Oaklawn.
Probable post time for the Martha Washington, which goes as the fifth race, is 2:10 p.m. (Central). Racing begins at noon. The 11-race card also features the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles and the $150,000 King Cotton Stakes for older horses at 6 furlongs.
The Martha Washington is Oaklawn’s first of three Kentucky Oaks points races. It will offer 40 (20-8-6-4-2, respectively) to the top five finishers toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Oaks, the country’s biggest race for 3-year-old fillies. Oaklawn’s Kentucky Oaks points series continues with the $300,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) Feb. 25 and the $600,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) April 1. Both races are 1 1/16 miles.
Defining Purpose concluded her 2-year-old campaign with a 5 ¼-length victory in the inaugural $150,000 Year’s End Stakes at 1 mile Dec. 31 at Oaklawn. Defining Purpose was among four winners for McPeek on the Dec. 31 card, the first in Oaklawn history exclusively for 2-year-olds.
“It should be a good next spot for her,” McPeek said. “She was ultra-impressive last time. It looks like Todd Fincher’s filly has got some talent that’s in there. The rest of them, I think, she’s beaten or be all right against. It should be a good next step to keep her in line for the rest of the winter at Oaklawn, hopefully.”
Olivia Twist (3 for 3) exits the $100,000 Trapeze Stakes at 1 mile Dec. 17 at Remington Park. A daughter of millionaire multiple Grade 1 winner Mshawish, Olivia Twist has won her three starts – all at Remington Park – by a combined 19 ½ lengths. Olivia Twist has recorded three workouts this month at Oaklawn leading up to her 3-year-old debut.
“The timing is perfect from her last race,” said Fincher, who is based at Sunland Park, but has a five-horse string this season at Oaklawn. “How do you pass up this race? It’s perfect. She’s doing great. Everything’s lining up just the way we want it to.”
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The projected six-horse field from the rail out:
Take Charge Briana and Taxed, a supplemental nominee, finished third and fourth, respectively, in the Year’s End. Wet Paint, who will be making her stakes debut for two-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox, is 1 for 1 on dirt. Key to Success finished second to the promising Twirled in a first-level allowance sprint Dec. 31 at Oaklawn for trainer Mike Puhich.
Secret Oath, last year’s Martha Washington winner, went on to win the Kentucky Oaks for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas and was a finalist for an Eclipse Award as the country’s champion 3-year-old filly of 2022. Lukas also trains Take Charge Briana.
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