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Fair Grounds Oaks 2024 | Fair Grounds Picks [Kentucky Oaks]
Tarifa (Lou Hodges Jr. / Hodges Photography)

Fair Grounds Oaks 2024 | Fair Grounds Picks [Kentucky Oaks]

Off a professional victory in the Rachel Alexandra (G2) in what was her stakes debut, the Godolphin homebred Tarifa returns as Mike Diliberto’s 8-5 morning line favorite over seven rivals for Saturday’s $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) presented by Fasig-Tipton.

Run at 1 1/16 miles, the race will offer 3-year-old fillies 100-50-25-15-10 points on the Road to the Longines Kentucky Oaks.

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Taking the blinkers off for her third career start on January 20 at Fair Grounds, Tarifa stalked the early pace before scoring a narrow, first-level allowance win for trainer Brad Cox.

Stepped up to the Rachel Alexandra, the daughter of Bernardini ran a similar race against tougher competition, posting a 2 ¾ length score over Intricate, the Golden Rod (G2) winner at Churchill Downs who was making her sophomore debut.

“I’m very happy with the way she’s training,” Cox said. “She’s a little eager. Aggressive at times. Overall I like what we’ve seen from her. Her last move was solo, no company, handled it really well. She broke off smoothly and finished up great.”

Reunited with jockey Flavien Prat, Tarifa will break from post five.

Cox, who won the Fair Grounds Oaks in back-to-back years with Bonny South in 2020 and Travel Column in 2021, also has Full of Run Racing and Madaket Stable’s Alpine Princess entered for the 2024 edition.

The gate-to-wire winner of the Untapable, the daughter of Classic Empire pressed the pace in the Rachel Alexandra before fading to fourth. With regular rider Florent Geroux in tow at 8-1 in the morning line, she will break from post three.

Off 11 weeks following her Golden Rod score, Bradley Thoroughbreds, Laura Leigh Stables, Scott Estes and Cambron Equine’s Intricate rated at the rail near the back of the pack in the Rachel Alexandra. Hung six-wide off the turn for home, she drifted in slightly while chasing Tarifa home.

The daughter of Gun Runner is trained by Brendan Walsh and she will once again be ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, who has been aboard for every start. The duo teamed up to win last year’s Kentucky Oaks with Pretty Mischievous.

Installed as the 2-1 second choice in the morning line, Intricate will leave from post six.

Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen has won the Fair Grounds Oaks four times, most recently with Echo Zulu in 2022. He scored the Fair Grounds Oaks/Kentucky Oaks double with Summerly in 2005 and again with Untapable in 2012. Asmussen’s other winner of this race was Lady Tak in 2003.

This year, Asmussen saddles an upstart in Courtlandt Farm’s Our Pretty Woman, who is perfect from two starts, winning both a maiden special weight and first-level allowance at Fair Grounds by open lengths.

“It’s a big step up but she’s never done anything wrong,” Asmussen said. “She’s never asked for a favor in her life and she’s not about to start. She is very straightforward and trains wonderfully. She hit the ground running last time. She was lightly raced, we used some of her early, we wanted to get out of there and get a spot with her. She handled it and continued on well to the wire.”

With Joel Rosario aboard, the 4-1 morning line shot has been assigned post seven.

Here is the complete field for the Fair Grounds Oaks from the rail out (with jockey, trainer and morning line odds):

  1. V V’s Dream, winner of the Pocohontas (G3) and second in the Alcibiades as a 2-year-old (Brian Hernandez, Jr., Ken McPeek, 8-1 ML)
  2. Midsummer March, winner of a maiden special weight race last out at Oaklawn (Rey Gutierrez, Ken McPeek, 12-1)
  3. Alpine Princess (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox, 8-1)
  4. Lucy Got Game; winner of a maiden special weight race at Delta Downs last out (Edgar Morales, Tom Amoss, 20-1)
  5. Tarifa (Flavien Prat, Brad Cox, 8-5)
  6. Intricate (Tyler Gaffalione, Brendan Walsh, 2-1)
  7. Out Pretty Woman (Joel Rosario, Steve Asmussen, 4-1)
  8. Accommodate Eva; a two-time Louisiana-bred restricted stakes winner (Corey Lanerie, Dallas Stewart, 20-1)

With a post time of 5:08 p.m., the Fair Grounds Oaks is scheduled as the 11th of 12 races and is one of eight stakes on Saturday’s “Louisiana Derby Day” card.

With $3 million in purses up for grabs, the program also features the Louisiana Derby (G2), a 100-50-25-15-10 points race on the Road to the 150th Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve.

First post is noon.