Jockey Edgar Prado got his first feel of his Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) mount, Pure Clan, when the duo worked four furlongs in :51 1/5 before galloping out in 1:13 2/5 April 25 at Churchill Downs.
"I just wanted Edgar to get a feel for her this morning because she is a little different than just the average horse,” said trainer Bob Holthus.
Co-owner and -breeder Lewis Lakin watched the work alongside Holthus in the clocker’s stand. “I think she worked very well today,” Lakin said. “I think she is ready, and she is going to like the distance. This is the distance that we need for her.”
Lakin said the filly, whom he owns in partnership with IEAH Stables and Pegasus Holding Group, does not possess a great turn of foot, but she makes up for her lack of early speed with a huge heart. “She just gets cooking and keeps going and finishes well. She should not lay too close to the pace, but I would like to see a fast pace in the race. I think if she finishes like we know she can, she should be able to run some horses down. I hope she runs enough of them down so she can win."
The development of Pure Clan is something that took both Lakin and Holthus by surprise. “She grew up not exactly like we would have wanted. She was gawky and gangly, and she wasn’t that precocious, so we didn’t push her,” Lakin said. “We waited six months longer than we normally do to break her. We went very slowly with her. I wanted Bob to have her from the beginning because I know he’s a trainer who can handle a horse like that. We really didn’t know what we had until she ran. She put it all together, and it was a very pleasant surprise.”
The daughter of Pure Prize out of the General Assembly mare Gather The Clan put it all together when she began her career in late August at Ellis Park, breaking her maiden by 7 3/4 lengths in a 5 1/2-furlong race. She then won an allowance race on the turf at Keeneland by three-quarters of a length. Holthus then stepped her up into stakes competition, where she won the Pocahontas (gr. III) and the Golden Rod Stakes (gr. II) on the dirt at Churchill Downs to finish her juvenile season undefeated.
At 3, she ran in the Honeybee Stakes (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park, where she finished second to Eight Belles, who could start in either the Oaks or the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). Following the Honeybee, Pure Clan again finished behind Eight Belles, running third in the Fantasy Stakes (gr. II), also at Oaklawn.
“We were disappointed that she didn’t win the two races in Arkansas, but neither race really set up for her. There was no pace,” Holthus said. “A horse who comes from behind has to have somepace, and it is hard to make it up when they go a half in :50. Luckily, she came out of the Oaklawn races in good order. The Oaks is what we are after. We are after that grade I win.”
In other Oaks news, Awesome Chic, trained by Rafael Ramos, worked four furlongs under jockey Robby Albarado in :51 1/5 April 25 at Churchill Downs. Ramos, who conditions the filly for Aurora Springs Stable, speaks very little English, but said the filly’s work was “muy bueno.”
Albarado said: “We wanted an easy work from her, just some maintenance. I think the Oaks is a wide-open race. This filly is training good, so we have some confidence in her. You should not overlook her. The trainer said she is not physically big, but she tries. She has a big heart. I can feel that turning for home. She knows where that stretch is. I look forward to a big effort from her.”
Awesome Chic (Awesome Again —Trading, by A.P. Indy) enters the Oaks off a 4 1/2-length win in the Florida Oaks (gr. III) and began the year with a half-length score in the Gasparilla Stakes. Both races were at Tampa Bay Downs.
Trainer Dallas Stewart remains mum on whether or not he will start Overbrook Farm’s Honest Pursuit in the 1 1/8-mile Oaks. “I still haven’t made up my mind,” Stewart said. “They take entries Tuesday (April 29), so I guess I will know something by then.”
Honest Pursuit (Storm Cat—Honest Lady, by Seattle Slew) worked four furlongs in :47 April 24 and would enter the Oaks off an impressive 6 1/2-length win in a nine-furlong allowance race April 4 over the Polytrack at Keeneland.