When it comes to three-year old fillies Oaklawn Park is second to none! Rachel Alexandra, Eight Belles, and Blind Luck are some of the recent names of fillies that ran at Oaklawn before going on to bigger and better things. While the track is known for its three-year old colt program, the fillies have been just as dominant. Last year it was Rose to Gold who followed in the footsteps of those legends, but did not go on to have the success that those before her did. This year we have more questions than answers. No female horse in this division is coming to Oaklawn with much hype so these first couple of months will be a guessing game. It could make for a surprising year in the division as the eventual hero could actually still be a maiden.
To begin the impossible task of finding a standout in this group you first must look at the last big locally based filly race at Remington Park which was the Trapeze Stakes. In that race the Wesley Ward shipper La Mejor Fiesta was a narrow winner over the Donnie K Von Hemel trained Really and Truly. La Mejor Fiesta has since returned home to Florida and will most likely be running in races there, but we know that Really and Truly will be based at Oaklawn. She recently had her first workout over the track going four furlongs in 51.40 seconds. Prior to her second place effort in the Trapeze she had two nice victories at Remington Park against lesser competition. This is the type of horse that could improve and excel at Oaklawn.
We’ll get a sneak peek of the division on opening day with the running of the Dixie Belle. The race is the first of four filly stakes that will be running at Oaklawn, and has drawn a field of nine. The probable favorite will most likely be Street Story, who recently finished second in an ungraded stakes at the Fair Grounds. She broke her maiden in June at Churchill Downs, and could be rounding into form to kick off 2014. Another horse running in the race that is worth mentioning is More Than Beauty. She’s the winner of two races, and also finished second in the Debutante Stakes at Churchill Downs this summer. That makes her the most accomplished horse in the field, which tells you how wide open this race is going to be. Other horses of note to keep an eye out for in this one are: Racing Holiday, Silver Valley, and Xray Vision. Silver Valley is the standout of those three mentioned, as she won the Mountaineer Juvenile Fillies Stakes in August. She is trained by Hot Springs native Ron Moquett.
A big part of the division will be a guessing game so we’ll throw out a few of our own sleepers who we believe might develop into nice fillies. Rum Therapy comes out of the Kelly Von Hemel barn off an incredibly impressive maiden win in her career debut. She fell behind by as many as ten lengths early on, but exploded at the top of the stretch to win going away by over three lengths. That victory was over six and a half furlongs, but this horse has the breeding to suggest she’ll stretch out. Another horse we’ve heard big things about is Bread and Butter. Like Rum Therapy, the horse has only ran once, but was a big winner in a Churchill Downs maiden race. Her race was also over six and a half furlongs, but was won in wire to wire fashion. Bread and Butter is owned by track owner Charles Cella and trained by Lynn Whiting.
With all the uncertainty and what appears to be a lack of a “key” horse, you can bet trainers from around the country will be looking at Oaklawn as a place they can come in and win. Bob Baffert is always the first trainer that comes to mind when thinking about “ship and win” trainers. We’ve seen what he can do in the past at Oaklawn, and you can bet he has a deep enough stable to send a few over that will be competitive. However, the overall state of the three-year old filly group is just as sketchy throughout the country. There hasn’t been a true standout yet, so predicting who might ship in or who might become a star is a difficult task this year. This division truly is a wide open affair as we kick off 2014.
So it’s that time of year where everyone has a sleeper horse…you probably have some of your own as well. We may not yet who the key players will be when April rolls around, but we know that whoever exits this tracks big races will be a major player in the Kentucky Oaks picture!