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The Kenny McPeek-trained Band of Gold won the 2024 Martha Washington Stakes at Oaklawn Park, a prep race for the Kentucky Oaks (G1).
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William Shively’s Band of Gold used a late burst to record an upset victory in the $250,000 Martha Washington Stakes for 3-year-old fillies Saturday at Oaklawn.
The 1 1/16-miles Martha Washington was Oaklawn’s first of three Kentucky Oaks qualifying races. Band of Gold, who was ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., earned 20 points for the victory.
Denim and Pearls, the even-money favorite, finished second, a neck ahead of Neom Beach, who was followed, in order, by Tapit Jenallie, Promisemeanempire, Divine Gal, Saratoga Secret, In Good Taste and Hush It Honey.
Tapit Jenallie took the field through fractions of :23.67, :47.71 and 1:12.63 for 6 furlongs. Unhurried early, Band of Gold ($50.60) began moving toward the leaders turning for home. Hernandez steered Band of Gold to the outside in midstretch and she surged past three horses, including Denim and Pearls and Tapit Jenallie, in the final sixteenth of a mile.
Band of Gold’s winning time over a sloppy, sealed surface was 1:45.16. The daughter of Preservationist has won 2 of 3 starts overall and earned $206,000.
Oaklawn’s Kentucky Oaks qualifying series continues with the $400,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) Feb. 24 and the $750,000 Fantasy Stakes (G2) March 30.
Winning jockey Brian Hernandez Jr.: “It’s one of those deals looking at it on paper, a lot of us were coming out of sprints, so there was going to be quite a bit of speed. We ended up being 24-1. We had the 2 hole, so our advantage was just going to be to save every inch of ground. And if she was good enough from the head of the lane home, she was going to get there. That’s what happened.”
Winning trainer Kenny McPeek: “It looked to me like in the paddock, a lot of them were more sprinter types. And she’s a big, leggy filly. Looked to me like she wants more ground. Worked out good.”
Second-place trainer Brad Cox (Denim and Pearls): “Just didn’t really go on down the last part of it, just like she did last time. Didn’t finish up quite as well as we expected. Look, she ran well. She had a target to the inside of her, but, obviously, couldn’t hold off the winner. She was second best today.”
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