The Kentucky Derby Trail is now over, but the last weekend along the road did not disappoint. Oaklawn Park gave us great action all week long with the Racing Festival of the South, while Keeneland also had another strong weekend of action. Let’s check out our latest Three Stars of the Week after all of the heart-stopping action subsided:
The showdown of the weekend came in the fourth race at Oaklawn Park last Saturday with the running of the Count Fleet Stakes (G3). The defending champ Whitmore matched up with the up-and-coming Mitole and the two squared off right out of the gate. Turning for home, they were head and head, giving the large Oaklawn crowd the showdown that they had anticipated. Mitole dug in after getting headed in the stretch, re-rallying late to put away Whitmore by 2 3/4 lengths. There is no doubt that both of these sprinters will be heard from over and over this season while competing for top honors in this division.
2. Omaha Beach
It was a two-horse battle down the lane in the Arkansas Derby (G1) in what was an incredibly sloppy day at Oaklawn Park. After stalking the early pace for a brief moment, Omaha Beach sprung to the front up the backstretch, then looked like he would never relinquish the lead. It was not easy, though, as Improbable made a big move on the turn and made him work all the way to the finish. Both horses were well clear of the rest of the field, which should set them up nicely for their next challenge on the first Saturday in May.
3. Rushing Fall
The “Turf Rocket” is back! Rushing Fall is a beast no matter where she runs, but she seems to take it to another level at Keeneland Race Course. She turned the Jenny Wiley Stakes (G1) into a laugher on Saturday, setting a nice and easy early pace before kicking clear of her rivals for a 1-length victory. The win gives her 7 wins from 8 lifetime starts, having finished a close second in her only loss. The Breeders’ Cup seems to be the ultimate goal after Brown was patient with her last season. She seems to have benefited from that, developing into an even better horse this year.