LOUISVILLE, Ky. (May 1, 2007) – Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor’s Rags to Riches drew an outside post in a capacity field of 14 3-year-old fillies, but has been installed as a strong morning line favorite for the 133rd running of the $500,000-added Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) on Friday, May 4 at Churchill Downs.
The chestnut daughter of A.P. Indy, a winner of three of four career starts and unbeaten in three races this year, was installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite to give trainer Todd Pletcher his second victory in the 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-old fillies on the eve of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Garrett Gomez will be in the saddle aboard Rags to Riches as she breaks from post 11.
Along with the favorite, Pletcher will saddle Starlight Stable and Paul Lucarelli’s Octave and Dogwood Stable’s Cotton Blossom in Friday’s race. Octave, the runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) and the recent Ashland (GI) at Keeneland, will break from post four. Cotton Blossom, third in the Juvenile Fillies and runner-up in the Fantasy (GII) at Oaklawn Park in her most recent outing, drew gate five.
“We were happy with all three,” said Pletcher. “I didn’t mind being a little bit on the outside with Rags to Riches because that’s kind of the way she’s been having to run. At Santa Anita, she was outside a lot and it shouldn’t bother her. [Posts] four and five are okay for the other two.”
Pletcher won the 2004 Kentucky Oaks with Starlight Stable, Paul Saylor and Martin Johns’ Ashado. The winner of three consecutive Eclipse Awards as America’s top trainer is looking forward to another bid for America’s top race for 3-year-old fillies.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever come up to a big race as confident as we were with Ashado, but all three of these fillies are doing extremely well,” Pletcher said. “Certainly Rags to Riches’ races leading up to this have been impressive, so we’re looking forward to it.”
Octave, who will be ridden by John Velazquez, is listed as the 6-1 co-third choice in Battaglia’s morning line. Cotton Blossom, who will have Edgar Prado in the saddle, has been installed as an 8-1 risk.
Along with hopes of gaining a second victory in the Kentucky Oaks, Pletcher will be looking to make history over the weekend by notching victories in both the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby. Along with his three Kentucky Oaks contenders, Pletcher is expected to saddle five of the 20 starters in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby. The last trainer to saddle winners of the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby in the same year was Calumet Farm legend Ben Jones, who won the 1952 Oaks with Real Delight and took the Derby 24 hours later with Calumet’s Hill Gail.
The second choice in the morning line for the 133rd Kentucky Oaks is Frank Calabrese’s homebred Dreaming of Anna, the winner of the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) at Churchill Downs in November and the reigning 2-year-old filly champion in American racing. The Wayne Catalano-trained daughter of Rahy won all four of her races in 2006, but has failed to win in two starts this season. Regular jockey Rene Douglas will be aboard the 5-1 shot in the Oaks.
Another major contender for Kentucky Oaks 133 is Anita Ebert’s homebred High Heels, who romped to a 6 ¾-length victory in the $250,000 Fantasy Stakes (GII) at Oaklawn Park in her most recent outing. The daughter of E Dubai figures to have a considerable hometown backing as she is trained by popular Louisville native Gary Hartlage and ridden by Joe Johnson, who has been Hartlage’s first-call rider for several years. High Heels will break from post three and is listed as the 6-1 co-third choice for Friday’s race.
Other notable fillies in the field of 14 include Watson and Weitman Performances’ Tough Tiz’s Sis (10-1), the Bob Baffert-trained winner of the WinStar Oaks at Sunland Park; Zayat Stables’ High Again (12-1), winner of the Bonnie Miss (GII) at Gulfstream Park for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott; J. Paul Reddam’s Mistical Plan (12-1), winner of the Fair Grounds Oaks (GII); Reddam’s Cash Included, winner of the Oak Tree Breeders’ Cup (GI) as a 2-year-old; and Melnyk Racing Stable’s Canadian-based Sealy Hill, winner of the Bourbonette Breeders’ Cup (GIII) over Polytrack at Turfway Park.
A crowd of108,065 – the second-largest in history – watched Lemons Forever score the biggest upset in Kentucky Oaks history in the 2006 renewal of the race. Trained by Dallas Stewart, the daughter of Lemon Drop Kid rallied under Mark Guidry to win the race at odds of 47-1.
A record attendance of 111,243 was on hand for the 2005 renewal of the Kentucky Oaks.
Friday’s renewal of the Kentucky Oaks will be nationally televised on ESPN.
133rd Kentucky Oaks – May 4, 2007
Post Horse Jockey ML Odds
1 Dawn After Dawn Robby Albarado 30-1
2 Cash Included Corey Nakatani 12-1
3 High Heels Joe Johnson 6-1
4 Octave John Velazquez 6-1
5 Cotton Blossom Edgar Prado 8-1
6 Grace Happens Willie Martinez 50-1
7 Dreaming of Anna Rene Douglas 5-1
8 Swift Temper Julien Leparoux 50-1
9 Tough Tiz’s Sis Victor Espinoza 10-1
10 Autobahn Girl Eddie Castro 15-1
11 Rags to Riches Garrett Gomez 5-2
12 Sealy Hill Patrick Husbands 20-1
13 Mistical Plan David Flores 12-1
14 High Again Cornelio Velasquez 12-1
Morning Line Odds by Mike Battaglia