No Catching Mistical Plan in Fair Grounds Oaks

No Catching Mistical Plan in Fair Grounds Oaks
Photo: Skip Dickstein
Mistical Plan took the lead at the top of the stretch and went on to win the Fair Grounds Oaks.
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J. Paul Reddam's Mistical Plan emerged from a strong pace battle with the lead and was never headed while leaving the field behind in the stretch run of the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) for 3-year-old fillies Saturday.

Ridden by Corey Nakatani for trainer Doug O'Neill, the California-bred Mistical Plan was considered suspect at the 1 1/16-mile distance. But she withstood a good test to defeat 6-5 choice Octave, who was making her first start since she finished second to Dreaming of Anna in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I), by 3 1/4 lengths. The final time was 1:44. Whatdreamsrmadeof finished third, 6 1/2 lengths behind the winner.

The bay daughter of Game Plan--Mistical Bel (Bel Bolide) earned her first graded stakes and becomes a leading contender for the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) May 4. She won the Sunshine Millions Oaks at six furlongs at Santa Anita in her last start Jan. 27 after finishing a fading third, six lengths behind Baroness Thatcher, in the Santa Ysabel (gr. III) at 1 1/16 miles prior to that. She had failed in both of her prior route efforts as well.

“Beautiful,” said O’Neill.  “The last two times going two turns, we didn’t draw the greatest of posts.  Corey just rode her beautifully.”

Nakatani added, “She’s run some clunker going two turns, but we’re not done yet.

“She was getting some pressure (today), but my main goal was to let her be comfortable.  We were loaded for bear.”

Breaking from the rail in the field of eight, Mistical Plan, sent off at 7-1, was in a fight for the lead early with Appealing Zophie, Total, and Dawn After Dawn before she gained the advantage with an opening quarter mile of :23 2/5. She maintained a slight advantage as Appealing Zophie and John Velazquez kept the pressure on through subsequent fractions of :46 4/5 and 1:11 2/5. Appealing Zophie gave way after that with Octave and Garrett Gomez taking over the chase coming off the final turn. But Octave didn't make much of an impact as Mistical Plan drove for the wire. Whatdreamsrmadeof, always close to the leaders under Corey Lanerie, ran evenly for third.

“She ran a really good race," Gomez said of the runner-up. "Unfortunately, I got caught in a little bit of traffic, and by the time I got clear, (Mistical Plan) was gone. She’d been off a long time (since the Breeders’ Cup) and she finished well. We’ll move forward off of this. There are bright things in her future.”

Mistical Plan's fourth win in eight career starts was worth $240,000, more than doubling her bankroll to $475,765.

She paid $16.40, $6.60, and $5.20. Octave, a grade II winner of $610,700 last year for trainer Todd Pletcher, returned $3 and $2.60, completing a $56.20 exacta. Whatdreamsrmadeof, making her graded stakes debut for trainer Tom Amoss, was $5.20 to show and the $2 trifecta paid $448.

Dawn After Dawn finished fourth, followed by Le Chateau, Get Ready, Total and 5-2 second choice Appealing Zophie.

“She’s OK,” said Velazquez of Appealing Zophie. “She went fast early. I tried to rate her a little bit. She cut her air off. Other than that, she was OK.”

The last two winners of the Fair Grounds Oaks have gone on to win the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on the day before the Kentucky Derby: Summerly in 2005 and Ashado in 2004.  The New Orleans race was not run in 2006, but the Kentucky Oaks winner Lemons Forever raced at the Fair Grounds meet at Louisiana Downs.

(Chart, Equibase)

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