Ashbrook Farm and BBN Racing's Concrete Rose continued to dominate her division with a front-running performance in Friday's first running of the $750,000 Saratoga Oaks, crossing the wire at 4 3/4 lengths clear of her nearest rival. The 3-year-old daughter of Twirling Candy set a mild pace and easily put away her four challengers in the stretch, completing 1 3/16 miles over Saratoga's firm turf in 1:55.34. Trained by Rusty Arnold and ridden to victory by Julien Leparoux, Concrete Rose was the heavy favorite at 1-5.
The filly was also an easy winner of the first leg of NYRA's “Turf Tiara,” a three-race series of turf route races for sophomore fillies. She won the G1 Belmont Oaks by 2 3/4 lengths, and is expected to contest the series' final leg, the $750,000 Jockey Club Oaks slated for September 7 at Belmont Park.
“These are 3-year-olds,” Arnold said. “It's a whole different group if you step up. She'll get one more 3-year-old race before it's over. We'll see what it's going to be. We feel good. She handled the month turnaround really well. The [Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup on October 12 at Keeneland] has always intrigued me a lot. That was the plan at the beginning of the year. However, it is going to be tough not to try to win these three races [of the Turf Tiara] the first year they have it. To win all three, that would be awful special, so there will be a lot of talking going on.”
Quick out of the starting gate, Concrete Rose sauntered across the field from her outside post to take an uncontested 1 1/2-length lead heading toward the clubhouse turn. Olendon was wrangled back to a frustrated second in the early going, hemmed in at the rail by Coral Beach while Happen and Kelsey's Cross followed suit.
Left to her own devices on the front end, Concrete Rose set mild fractions of :25.58, :51.41 and 1:15.93 before Leparoux ever asked her to run. In fact, the jockey waited until nearly the three-sixteenths pole to send Concrete Rose on her way, but she easily accelerated away from the field when he asked. Leparoux gave her a pat on the shoulder when she cruised under the wire 4 3/4 lengths the best.
“On paper, it didn't look like there was any speed,” said Leparoux. “She's a very easy filly to ride, so I went for the lead and if someone else wanted to go, I could take back. It's one of those things where they let me go easy and that was it.”
Happen, off slowly from the gate, came down the outside to score second over Kelsey's Cross. Coral Beach and Olendon, the fourth- and fifth-place finishers, collided in the stretch to draw a stewards' inquiry and jockey objection, but no change was made to the official order of finish.
Bred in Kentucky by Ron Patterson, Concrete Rose was a $20,000 yearling at the Keeneland September sale. Pinhooked through the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-old in training sale, the filly commanded a final bid of $61,000. Concrete Rose has won all but one of her seven starts, when she was eighth over the soft turf in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. The filly is undefeated in 2019 and boasts earnings of over $1.2 million.
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