The grit of a two determined fillies turned the $100,000 Fathead Bourbonette Oaks (G3) into a heart-stopper Saturday at Turfway Park, with Silsita digging hard to catch Marathon Lady by the barest nose at the wire and join the ranks of graded stakes winners.
With John Velazquez aboard, Silsita raced in second through six of the eight furlongs of the Bourbonette, tracking first Martha's Moon and then Marathon Lady. The stretch run came down to a lady fight between Silsita on the outside and Marathon Lady on the inside, both digging hard, each taking the lead, each being headed, and each battling back. It took a photo to prove that Silsita had battled a nose harder.
In third, three lengths behind Marathon Lady, came the 4-5 favorite Pure Fun, a Grade 1 winner who was making her first start since Dec. 8.
After fractions of :24.09 and :47.56 by Martha's Moon and Marathon Lady's six-furlong time of 1:12.08, Silsita finished the one-mile Fathead Bourbonette Oaks in 1:38.27.
“It's very exciting to see this filly jump up and win like this,” said Ginny DePasquale, long time assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher. “It seemed like a good spot and Todd felt she was improving over a period of time in Florida. So we thought we'd take a shot and obviously it worked out quite well.”
The Fathead Bourbonette Oaks offers 50 Kentucky Oaks (G1) qualifying points to the winner. Whether Silsita aims for that race is a decision Pletcher will make with the filly's owners, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Tanourin Stable. “Whatever they have in mind,” said DePasquale, “I'm sure they're going to make the right decision for her.”
Trainer Ken McPeek was not disappointed with the effort by Pure Fun, who earned 10 points toward the Kentucky Oaks. “It looked like she was fighting the track a little the last quarter of a mile. It's her first start of the year and we thought she had a chance to get beat today. But she's a good filly and it's a step in the right direction.”
Behind Pure Fun came Broken Spell, Miss Squeal, Street of Gold, Anahauc, Awesome Mama, Always Kitten, Le Fascinator, Corporate Culture, and Martha's Moon.
Sent off at 9-1, Silsita paid $20.40, $9.20, and $4.20.
A dark gray filly by Macho Uno out of Naturally Wild, by Wild Again, Silsita was bred in Florida by co-owner Tanourin Stable. She now has two wins and a third in four career starts, three coming since January, and has earned $84,725.
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Bourbonette Oaks Quotes
Winning jockey: John Velazquez, Silsita: “Pretty easy trip, we broke well and wewanted to be where we were following somebody and it was perfect. I was trying to get her to slow down the first part of the race and she did that nicely. She's showed improvement each time I've ridden her.”
2nd jockey: Robby Albarado, Marathon Lady: “I thought we had the race won about three strides in. She ran very well.”
3rd jockey: Garrett Gomez, Pure Fun: “It could have been a little of everything. It was her first race back. The racetrack doesn't have any water on it. It's real loose and cuppy. It probably doesn't suit her style of racing. She's a little more blocky—kind of a muscle-bound thing. Up until the point that I needed to put her under a little pressure, she was running absolutely tremendous for me. Everything was good until we turned for home. When she came off the turn, she just didn't want to switch leads. She should definitely benefit from this effort.”
Winning trainer: Ginny DePasquale (assistant for 16 years to Todd Pletcher), Silsita: “We're starting the day off right! It's very exciting to see this filly jump up and win like this. She seems to be a turf filly and some horses seem to take to the Poly. It seemed like a good spot and Todd felt that she was improving over a period of time in Florida. So we thought we'd take a shot and obviously it worked out quite well. I'm sure the Kentucky Oaks is up to Todd and the owners. Whatever they have in mind, I'm sure, they're going to make the right decision for her.”
2nd trainer: Steve Hobby, Marathon Lady: “She ran great. We'll more than likely head back to Hot Springs and make plans from there. I knew she was going to run a nice race and I was very happy that she was sitting where she was in the race. Robby did a great job with her. The head bob wasn't ours, but that's racing. I wasn't sure (if the head bob was ours).”
3rd trainer: Ken McPeek, Pure Fun: “It was her first start of the year. It looked like she was fighting the track a little the last quarter of a mile. It was a little loose and cuppy out there and Garrett said she was fighting it. We thought she had a chance to get beat today, but she's a good filly and it's a step in the right direction.”
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