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Flying Connection won the 2023 Sunland Park Oaks at Sunland Park. Is the Todd Fincher trainee a legitimate long shot contender for the 2023 Kentucky Oaks (G1) after earning 50 points with the win? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!
Sunland Park leading trainer Todd Fincher’s Flying Connection stamped herself a filly to watch for the Kentucky Oaks (G1) with a wire-to-wire romp in the Sunland Park Oaks (G3) Sunday in New Mexico.
The daughter of Nyquist, ridden by Alfredo Juarez Jr., set a pressured pace early before opening a clear lead in the stretch and winning by 2 1/4 lengths from 19-1 longshot Love Tank.
Don’t Get Pickled, the longest shot in the seven-horse field at 37-1, rallied from last for third, 6 1/2 lengths behind Love Tank.
Flying Connection paid $4.60 after finishing the 1 1/16-mile race in 1:43.90 on a fast track.
Favorite Doinitthehardway pressed a half length behind Flying Connection through an opening quarter mile in :22.89. The winner opened clear lead over that rival has the half went in :46.09 and six furlongs in 1:11.14, but Doinitthehardway had no rally when called upon and finished fifth while Love Tank was up from next to last to take second.
Flying Connection, who entered off wire-to-wire 9 ¼-length romp in the Island Fashion Stakes Feb. 28 at Sunland Park, won for the fourth time in seven career starts. Sunday’s win marked her second from three starts this year.
The Sunland Park Oaks is a Kentucky Oaks qualifying race, providing points on a 50-20-15-10-5 scale to the top five finishers. Fincher said after the race Flying Connection would go to the Louisville race if his filly emerges from Sunday’s effort in good order.
Bred by in Kentucky by Liberty Road Stable, Flying Connection was produced by the Quiet American mare Free Flying Soul. She is campaigned by a partnership group that includes Brad King, Randy Andrews, Lee Lewis, and Jim Cone, who bought her for $250,000 at the 2021 Keeneland September yearling sale, where Gainesway consigned her.
The $176,000 winner’s share of the Sunland Park Oaks’ $300,000 purse increased Flying Connection’s lifetime bankroll to $294,700.
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