Sis City and Runway Model Highlight Classy Oaks Field
by Leslie Deckard
Date Posted: 5/3/2005 2:32:05 PM
Last Updated: 5/5/2005 10:17:52 PM

A classy field of nine fillies was entered for Friday's $500,000 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) at Churchill Downs, with Sis City and Runway Model highlighting the pack.

Owned by Robert and Janice McNair's Stonerside Stable and partners, Sis City enters the Oaks off three consecutive wins, most recently a 10 ½-length score in the April 9 Ashland Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland where she defeated fellow Oaks starters Runway Model, Memorette, and Summerly.

Trained by Richard Dutrow, likely favorite Sis City will break from post four under jockey Edgar Prado and is expected to go to the lead in the 1 1/8-mile race.

"We'll let Prado (jockey Edgar Prado) and the filly decide what to do," Dutrow said. "Even though we look good (on paper), we need everything we can get. We still have to get the job done."

A daughter of Slew City Slew, Sis City went to the track Tuesday morning for a jog under exercise rider Michelle Nevin.

Runway Model, breaking from post one will have leading Southern California-based jockey Patrick Valenzuela aboard for the first time and could challenge the early pace.

"We're happy with the one hole," said Runway Model's trainer Bernie Flint. "I was praying for a large field and that's what we got. We're ready to go."

Owned by Naveed Chowhan, Runway Model is winless in two starts on the year after winning the Darley Alcibiades and Golden Rod Stakes, both grade II, as a juvenile. She finished third in the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) and was second in Sis City's Ashland Stakes in her two starts on the year.

"We've had to travel around to other racetracks and now everyone is coming to me. We're on our home turf," Flint said. "All we have to do is walk across the road."

Runway Model worked three furlongs Tuesday morning in :35.20.

Another filly not to be overlooked is the Steve Asmussen-trained Summerly, who disappointed in her fourth-place finish in the Ashland Stakes. Summerly, under jockey Jerry Bailey, will break from post five.

Asmussen said he could offer no real excuse for Summerly's poor Ashland performance, except to say she came out of the race banged up but has recovered nicely.

"I'm just a point A to point B kind of trainer," Asmussen said. "The only thing I ever want to see, plan-wise, is to get from the gate to the wire as fast as possible. My job is to have her peaking and confident and the rest is up to Jerry."

A daughter of Summer Squall, Summerly breezed four furlongs Monday in :48.20 under jockey Corey Lanerie.

Memorette could prove a tough challenge to all starters. The California-bred filly was third in the Ashland and finished second, beaten three lengths in the Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I) by champion Sweet Catomine. Memorette also was second, beaten three quarters of a length by Sharp Lisa, in the Las Virgenes (gr. II).

"She is a solid grade I filly," said trainer Bill Currin, who conditions the daughter of Memo for his wife, Betty. "With no disrespect to (owner) Marty Wygod, I think she would have beaten Sweet Catomine in the Santa Anita Oaks had that race been an eighth of a mile longer. She was slowly gaining on her.

"And in the Las Virgenes, she had Sharp Lisa beat, but Kent (jockey Desormeaux) dropped the whip at the sixteenth pole."

Desormeaux again has the mount aboard Memorette.

Trainer Nick Zito is hoping to follow the same path to the Oaks winner's circle with In the Gold that he did with 2003 Oaks winner Bird Town. Both fillies scored in the Stonerside Beaumont Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland en route to taking the lilies at Churchill Downs.

Owned by Live Oak Plantation, In the Gold will ship to Churchill Downs from Keeneland Thursday in preparation for Saturday's race.

"I am sure Sis City looks outstanding," said Zito who conditions the daughter of Seek Gold. "I just hope she (In the Gold) runs her normal race."

Jockey Rafael Bejarano, who rode the filly for the first time in the Stonerside, has the mount.

The field for Friday's $500,000 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) includes:
1 -- Runway Model (Patrick Valenzuela)
2 -- (SCRATCHED) Dance Away Capote (John Velazquez)
3 -- In the Gold (Rafael Bejarano)
4 -- Sis City (Edgar Prado)
5 -- Summerly (Jerry Bailey)
6 -- Rugla (Greta Kuntzweiler)
7 -- (SCRATCHED) Aspen Tree (Javier Castellano)
8 -- Memorette (Kent Desormeaux)
9 -- Gallant Secret (Mike Smith)


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