FRANKLIN, KY – Three Chimneys Farm’s homebred Princesa Carolina engulfed her foes with a powerful rally before clearing away to be crowned the victor of Sunday’s $350,000 Fifth Third Insurance Dueling Grounds Oaks at Kentucky Downs.
Breaking from post 7 under Jose Ortiz as the 4/5 favorite, Princesa Carolina took back and watched as Indigo Gin set the pace, with Pep closest early. After the leaders completed the opening mile in 1:38.00, Princesa Carolina began slowly marching toward the front.
“I was trying to split horses, between Julien and Graham, but Graham didn’t have enough,” Ortiz said. “So I had to take back. I knew I could do it because I knew I had the amount of horse to do it. I felt like I had a lot of horse underneath me. I took her back and went wide, but I had a lot of horse to be honest. She’s a really nice filly.”
Heading into the stretch run, Ortiz wheeled Princesa Carolina out until she was in the clear, at which point her quick turn of foot kicked in, and it was over from there. Clearing away with every stride in the final stages, the Kenny McPeek trainee crossed 1 1/2 lengths the best in a final time of 2:08.85 for the 1 5/16-mile event over the firm turf course.
“She has a beautiful stride, very big,” said Ortiz. “She was very relaxed. When I let her run, she just starting stretching, stretching. She picked it up little by little, little by little. When we hit the eighth pole going to the sixteenth, I hit her left handed and she really gave me a nice run.”
Wildlife was able to gain ground late, taking second by 1 1/2 lengths over High Regard. Indigo Gin faded to fourth, while behind her came Lightscameraaction, Red Rounder, Repatriated Gem, Belle Laura, and a spent Pep to complete the order of finish. Zabava was scratched.
Princesa Carolina’s win was her first at the stakes level and her second of the year, following an allowance score at Keeneland in late April. The 3-year-old daughter of Tapit improved her record to 11-3-3-1 with $403,619 earned.
“We felt like this distant would do her good, too, the extra ground,” said McPeek. “She’s got a big long hip on her, she’ll run all day. We’ve kind of been waiting for this race to some extent all summer and into the fall here. But a great run. We were a little frustrated: stakes-placed Tapit filly or stakes-winning Tapit filly out of that family. Hopefully we can come back in the QEII.” (Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland)
Princesa Carolina returned $3.60 to win, $2.80 to place, and $2.40 to show. Wildlife brought back $3.60 to place and $3.60 to show, while High Regard paid $9.20 to show.