BELLAFINA – The likely favorite for Friday's $1.25 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (G I) put in her final bit of western exercise Sunday morning at Santa Anita Park as trainer Simon Callaghan looked on.
“She galloped a mile and a half and she looks very good. We're very pleased with her,” the transplanted Englishman said. “She'll be aboard a plane at Ontario Airport at 1 a.m. tomorrow and should arrive at Churchill Downs early Monday.”
Callaghan has regular rider Flavien Prat (he has handled her in all eight of her previous starts) signed on once again for the Kaleem Shah filly, who has won six of those eight starts, all of the victories in graded stakes. The trainer noted that he'd be flying from California Tuesday and planned to be at the barn with Bellafina Wednesday morning
CHAMPAGNE ANYONE – Six Column Stables and Randy Bloch's Champagne Anyone completed her major preparations for Friday's $1.25 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) by working a half-mile in :48 with jockey Chris Landeros aboard.
Fractions on the work were :12.40, :24.60 and out five furlongs in 1:00.80. The half-mile drill was the eighth fastest of 76 at the distance over the fast track.
On a scale of one to 10 on the “Just what I wanted scale,” trainer Ian Wilkes had the work at the top end of the ladder.
“It was perfect,” Wilkes said. “She has had a good four weeks here (since winning the Gulfstream Park Oaks, GII) and as long as I don't mess anything up the next four days, we are fine.”
Landeros will have the mount Friday on Champagne Anyone, who is scheduled to jog Monday.
“Every time I get on this filly, she gives me more confidence I can win the Oaks,” Landeros said.
CHOCOLATE KISSES – Like stablemate War of Will, who also was on the work tab Saturday, Honeybee Stakes (GIII) winner Chocolate Kisses had a walk day in the Casse Racing shedrow.
The daughter of Candy Ride (ARG) put in her major piece of work in advance of the Kentucky Oaks when she worked four furlongs in :48 outside in company with Hoffa's Union. Chocolate Kisses broke her maiden on the turf at Saratoga last summer and went on to finish fourth to fellow Kentucky Oaks contender Restless Rider in the Alcibiades Stakes (GI) at Keeneland.
COOKIE DOUGH – Arindel's Cookie Dough, who would need one defection from the roster of probable entrants to make the Kentucky Oaks field of 14, continued her training Sunday morning at Gulfstream Park for trainer Stanley Gold.
Should Cookie Dough draw into the field, Jeffrey Sanchez would have the mount. If she does not draw into the field, Gold has indicated she would stay at Gulfstream and point to the Black-Eyed Susan (GII) at Pimlico May 17.
DUNBAR ROAD – Following her five-furlong workout on Saturday, Peter M. Brant's Dunbar Road did not go out on the Churchill Downs track. Instead, as she awaits a possible run in the May 3 Kentucky Oaks (GI), she walked the shedrow.
“Now we have to wait to see if there are any defections,” trainer Chad Brown said.
In order for her to make the field, Dunbar Road needs at least two of the horses in front of her on the Oaks points leaderboard to defect. She's 16th in the points standings, but only the top 14 will reach the starting gate, with the field to be decided Monday morning. Dunbar Road worked five furlongs in 1:01.60 on Saturday under her regular exercise rider, Kriss Bon.
FLOR DE LA MAR – Godolphin Racing's Grade 1-placed Flor de La Mar was out relatively early to take her first trip around the Churchill Downs main track Sunday morning.
In her first bit of exercise since arriving from California a day earlier, the daughter of Tiznow joined stablemate Game Winner in coming out around 6:30 and jogging one lap the wrong way around under Jose Conteras. Unraced as a juvenile, Flor de La Mar will be making just her fourth career start when she enters the starting gate for the Kentucky Oaks and showed promise when finishing second to likely Oaks favorite Bellafina in the April 6 Santa Anita Oaks (GI).
“I thought she worked really well (on Friday),” trainer Bob Baffert said referring to the filly's bullet five-furlong move from the gate in 59.80 at Santa Anita Park. “It's a tough task for her (going into the Oaks) but she got beat just a couple lengths by the favorite, Bellafina, who I think is the best filly in there. She ran pretty decent.”
JAYWALK – Cash is King and Leonard Green's Jaywalk galloped Sunday morning at Keeneland under exercise rider Lucas Berticelli for trainer John Servis.
Jaywalk is scheduled to leave Keeneland at noon today with an early afternoon arrival at Churchill Downs.
JELTRIN – ADR Racing Stable's Jeltrin, winner of the Davona Dale (GII) at odds of 51-1, made her first appearance on the track here Sunday morning jogging a mile under exercise rider Andry Blanco shortly after the track opened at 5:15.
“She will go out early every morning except Tuesday or Wednesday when she would go at 7:30,” trainer Alexis Delgado said.
Jeltrin arrived at Churchill Downs Saturday afternoon and will be ridden in the Oaks by Luis Saez.
“I have been here before but only as a tourist,” said Delgado, who has 16 horses in his stable at Gulfstream Park.
LADY APPLE – Phoenix Thoroughbred III and KatieRich Stables' Fantasy Stakes (GIII) winner Lady Apple worked an easy half-mile in :49.80 Sunday morning for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.
Lady Apple worked solo through splits of :12.40, :25 and :37.20 with a five-furlong gallop out in 1:04.80.
Asmussen is likely to arrive in Louisville Monday or Tuesday.
LIORA – Coffee Pot Stables' Liora was put through some fine tuning Sunday, going to the paddock and then gate schooling during the 7:30 a.m. time slot before putting in a light jog under Victor Garcia with trainer Wayne Catalano looking on.
Given that Liora boasts the same trainer, owner, and jockey (Channing Hill) as former stablemate and 2017 Kentucky Oaks starter Farrell, comparisons to the multiple grade stakes winner are easy to draw. Where Farrell was a committed frontrunner, however, Catalano believes his latest talented distaffer has more handiness to her.
“With Farrell, she mostly wanted to be on the lead, she was a little bit one dimensional,” Catalano said. “This filly will do whatever you want her to do. She'll lay up there, she'll go on, she can do whatever you want. She's a little bit more manageable.”
MOTION EMOTION – Mark DeDomenico's Motion Emotion returned to the track to jog a mile under exercise rider Raul Vizcarrondo for trainer Tom Van Berg.
OUT FOR A SPIN – Commonwealth Stables' upset Ashland Stakes (GI) winner Out for a Spin galloped about 1 1/2 miles Sunday morning for locally based trainer Dallas Stewart.
“We're just rolling along,” Stewart said. “It's starting to get down to the nitty-gritty of it.”
Irad Ortiz Jr. has the call for the Longines Kentucky Oaks.
POSITIVE SPIRIT – Trainer Rodolphe Brisset said Michael J. Ryan's Positive Spirit was on the Keeneland track as planned Sunday morning.
“We galloped two fractional miles, with a two-minute lick in the second one,” Brisset texted from Lexington. “The filly went beautiful, so if all is good tomorrow, we will ship to Churchill in the morning.”
Positive Spirit, who broke her maiden last November at Churchill Downs, put in a bullet workout on April 21 with Brisset, going a half-mile in :47.20 at Keeneland. Manny Franco is expected to ride her in the Oaks.
RESTLESS RIDER – Fern Circle Stables and Three Chimneys Farm's Ashland Stakes (GI) runner-up Restless Rider did not go to the track ahead of her final workout Monday with jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. She walked the shedrow, said Greg Geier, assistant to trainer Kenny McPeek.
McPeek said Saturday that on Monday she'll breeze a half-mile, about 3 ½ hours before the field for the 145th Kentucky Oaks is decided.
SERENGETI EMPRESS – Joel Politi's Serengeti Empress followed the planned regimen of trainer Tom Amoss, jogging a mile and galloping 1 ½ miles. The filly is showing no ill effects from a bleeding episode during the Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) in New Orleans on March 23.
She was on the Churchill Downs track again Sunday with her regular exercise rider, Francisco Herrera. New Orleans native Amoss finished fifth in last year's Oaks with Chocolate Martini, and eighth with Lone Sailor in the 2018 Derby.
STREET BAND – Larry Jones, Cindy Jones and Ray Francis' Street Band, the surprise winner of the Fair Grounds Oaks who'll try to reprise that effort Friday in the $1.25 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI), turned in her final work toward that goal Sunday morning during the special Derby/Oaks training period at 7:30 at Churchill Downs.
The daughter of the Gone West stallion Istan clipped off five furlongs under regular rider Sophie Doyle in 1:00.20, hugging the rail from the five-furlong pole to the wire. Her splits along the way were :12.60, :24.40, :37 and :48.40. She then galloped out an extra furlong in 1:13.60.
“That's her usual work,” noted assistant trainer Corey York, the right-hand man for the past 15 years for trainer/co-owner/breeder Larry Jones. “It's a good move for her and just what we wanted. She looked good.”
Indeed, the drill by the chestnut filly followed pattern. Her previous four works were accomplished in 1:00.40, 1:00.20, 1:00 and 1:01.
Englishwoman Doyle, who has handled Street Band in her past five starts and was decked out in not one, but two, Go-Pro cameras for the move, liked the way her filly went.
“She moved well out there,” the 31-year-old rider said. “She gave me a great feel.”
The rider spoke briefly after the work with Jones, who was on the phone from Oaklawn Park where he was overseeing his stable's main string. The Kentuckian, who already has three victories in the Kentucky Oaks (Proud Spell in 2008, Believe You Can in 2012 and Lovely Maria in 2015), plans on relocating to Louisville Sunday night.
Co-owner Francis was on hand for the drill and allowed as how he was enjoying the run-up to the Run for the Lilies.
“It's very exciting to be in with Larry (Jones) and his crew,” the former Louisville resident who now calls Henderson, Kentucky, home said. “We don't know how she's going to do in that 14-horse field, but it's fun to be a part of this.”
Entries for the Kentucky Oaks will be drawn Monday morning.
SHAPING UP: THE LONGINES KENTUCKY OAKS – Likely starters in the 145th running of the $1.25 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) to be run for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on Friday, May 3: Bellafina (jockey Flavien Prat), Champagne Anyone (Chris Landeros), Chocolate Kisses (Julien Leparoux), Flor de la Mar (Joel Rosario), Jaywalk (Javier Castellano), Jeltrin (Luis Saez), Lady Apple (Ricardo Santana Jr.), Liora (Channing Hill), Motion Emotion (Mike Smith), Out for a Spin (Irad Ortiz Jr.), Positive Spirit (Manny Franco), Restless Rider (Brian Hernandez Jr.), Serengeti Empress (Undecided), Street Band (Sophie Doyle).
Next up in order of preference: Cookie Dough (Jeffrey Sanchez) and Dunbar Road (Jose Ortiz).
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