The Arlington Breeders' Cup Oaks (gr. III) was a thrilling race, with Lovely Afternoon near the lead the entire race while the filly that should have been on the lead Catboat, broke poorly and had to rally on the rail. The two hit the wire together.
Catboat spotted the field nine or 10 lengths but jockey Eddie Martin Jr. didn't panic. He simply moved her to the rail and she moved up steadily throughout the race. Up on the front end, Fly Away Angel made a very easy lead while they went a quarter in :24 53 and a half in :48.42
When they turned for home, Lovely Afternoon and jockey J. Graham hit the front. But on the rail, Catboat was smacked with the whip a couple of times as they straightened away and she joined her rival in a thrilling stretch run.
It looked like a dead-heat when they hit the wire and indeed it was. The final time for the nine furlongs was 1:51.06..
Lovely Afternoon is by Afternoon Deelites
and out of the Green Dancer mare Lovely Later. She is owned by the Richard Otto Stables and trained by Anthony Mitchell. She was bred in Pennsylvania by Two Sisters Farm and purchased at the Keeneland September sale for $52,000. It was her fourth win in a dozen lifetime starts.
Catboat has also made 12 starts and was winning her fifth race. She is by Tale of the Cat and out of the Afleet mare Northern Afleet. She races for her breeders, Bob and Janice McNair's Stonerside Stable. Bernie Flint trains the Kentucky-bred filly.
"I was hoping to get a good break and dictate the pace but she swung her head a little bit at the break and got off horribly," Martin said. "At that point, I just decided to rate her and save all the ground on the fence the entire way. She ran a fantastic race and she showed a lot of guts."
Mitchell indicated his filly would point toward the grade III $200,000 Pucker Up Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on the turf Sept. 18, while Flint said he would plot Catboat's next move with representatives from Stonerside Stable.
My Time Now finished third in the 10-horse field, followed by pacesetting favorite Fly Away Angel, Platinum Ballet, Miss Moses, Touch of Victory, Teenage Temper, Flashy and Chancey Light.
Lovely Afternoon, dispatched at odds of 17-1, paid $16, $15.20 and $8.60. Catboat, sent off at 9-2, returned $6.20, $7.20 and $5.80. My Time now paid $10.60.
The Oaks was the second dead-heat for win on Saturday's card. Earlier in the day, Rey Aguirre's Never Give In and J. David Banks' Orphan Cartwright finished on even terms in the fourth race.