HOT SPRINGS, AR – Undefeated Taraz got her first feel of the Oaklawn racing surface Wednesday morning, galloping approximately 1 ½ miles shortly before the first renovation break for trainer Brad Cox and owner Juddmonte Farms, which also bred the massive daughter of Into Mischief.
Taraz was vanned Tuesday from her winter base at Fair Grounds to run in Saturday’s $150,000 Martha Washington Stakes, a 1-mile event that is Oaklawn’s first of three Kentucky Oaks points races.
“She’s big, isn’t she?” Cox’s assistant, Jorgito Abrego, said as he watched Taraz gallop in advance of her scheduled two-turn debut.
Taraz (2 for 2) won her career debut by 7 ½ lengths Nov. 14 at Churchill Downs and the $75,000 Letellier Memorial Stakes Dec. 21 at Fair Grounds by 11 ¼ lengths. As expected, the towering presence of Taraz will lead to a short field for the Martha Washington. Only four other horses were entered Wednesday morning – O Seraphina, High On Gin, Shedaresthedevil and Princesinha Julia. Taraz is scheduled to break from post 3 under Florent Geroux.
The Martha Washington offers 17 points to the top four finishers (10-4-2-1) toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Oaks, the country’s biggest race for 3-year-old fillies. Probable post time for the Martha Washington, which goes as race 6, is 3:39 p.m.
Should she win impressively, Cox indicated earlier this month that the Juddmonte Farm’s homebred could tackle the boys in her subsequent start and thus join the Road to the Kentucky Derby (G1) presented by Woodford Reserve.
“Look, she’s special,” Cox explained. “Everything has to line up, everything has to go right. The way she trains, she gives you that amount of confidence to think about things like that, bottom line. It’s one step at a time, obviously. The Martha Washington and then go from there.”
According to Kevin Kerstein, publicity manager, communications and media services for Churchill Downs, since the system was implemented in 2013, there have been several fillies who have earned points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, including 2018 El Camino Real winner Paved and 2017 UAE Derby (G1) runner-up Rayya.. No filly has competed in the Run for the Roses since Devil May Care in 2010 and only three fillies have won the Kentucky Derby – Winning Colors (1988), Genuine Risk (1980) and Regret (1915).