Pure Clan Comes Through in American Oaks

Pure Clan Comes Through in American Oaks
Photo: Benoit
Pure Clan battles to victory in the American Oaks Invitational.
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Trapped on the inside coming down the lane, a patient Julien Leparoux guided favored Pure Clan through a narrow opening between horses and outfought French raider Satan's Circus in the final furlong to win the $750,000 American Oaks Invitational (Presented by American Airlines, gr. IT) (VIDEO) at Hollywood Park July 5.

Pure Clan, third in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) this spring for trainer Bob Holthus, improved her turf record to a perfect four-for-four while completing the 1 1/4-mile event for 3-year-old fillies in an excellent 2:00.50. She went over the $1 million mark in lifetime earnings while gaining her first grade I victory.

But it didn't look like the Pure Prize filly had much hope when bottled up on the inside by Satan's Circus and in behind the pacesetter Raw Silk and Missit while charging down the homestretch. Under left-handed urging, Missit got the lead for Victor Espinoza, but she drifted out in the process just enough to give Leparoux and Pure Clan the room they lacked. Pure Clan was full of run from there, engaging Satan's Circus, who put her head in front briefly on the outside, and drove to a three-quarters of a length victory.

"I was a little worried turning for home if she was going to be able to get through, but she made it," Holthus said. "(Leparoux) did a great job. She always runs the last sixteenth of a mile as hard as she can. I felt pretty confident when I saw her head coming up through there. She’s a very hard-running filly, she’s very consistent and she never runs a bad one. She’s unbeaten on the turf and we plan on coming back to Del Mar for the Oaks (gr. IT).

"We really feel she’s a better filly on the turf than she is on the dirt but she runs either way," he added.

Leparoux said Pure Clan, who won under left-handed urging, handled the traffic well.

"I had the rail and stayed on it the whole way," he said. "Coming into the stretch, I didn't have much room to go. It was pretty tight. We just got lucky, it kind of opened up for us. I am so proud of her, she's such a nice filly. She proved she's good on the dirt but she might be better on turf. She just keeps improving every race."

Satan's Circus, ridden by French jockey Ioritz Mendizabal, edged the closing Clearly Foxy for the runner-up spot by a half-length, with second choice Carribean Sunset rallying mildly for fourth, four lengths behind the winner.

Raw Silk, under Alan Garcia, fought early to get the lead over the Irish-bred Missit and carved fractions of :24.01, :47.07, and 1:10.07 while leading her pace rival into the stretch. Satan's Circus was well positioned to strike when the front-runners faltered.

"It was a big trip coming over from the south of France," Mendizabal said of the runner-up. "She had to van 15 hours to Amsterdam, and then another 11 hours from Amsterdam to L.A. I think the trip took a little out of her but she ran a very game race. She's got a huge heart."

Owned by Lewis Lakin, IEAH Stables, and Pegasus Holding Group Stables, Pure Clan headed for California after a powerful 2 3/4-length win in the Regret Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs June 14. She was bred in Kentucky by Lewis Lakin and sons. Pure Clan is out of Gather The Clan, by General Assembly.

Pure Clan, never out of the money in nine starts, won for the sixth time and pushed her earnings to $1,002,416 with the American Oaks' winning share of $450,000. The chestnut filly won the first four starts of her career, including the Golden Rod (gr. II) and Pocahontas (gr. III) on the Churchill main track as a juvenile. She began with a debut maiden victory over the Ellis Park turf and then defeated an allowance field going one mile on the Keeneland grass last fall.

Under equal weights of 121, Pure Clan paid $7, $4, and $3.40. Martin Schwartz's Kentucky-bred Satan's Circus, coming off a fifth-place finish in the Prix de Diane (French Oaks, Fr-I) in her last start for trainer Jean-Claude Rouget, returned $12.60 and $10, completing a $2 exacta worth $90. Clearly Foxy, ridden by Garrett Gomez for trainer Mark Casse, was $9.80 to show.

Carribean Sunset was followed by Missit, Magical Fantasy, Backseat Rhythm, Raw Silk, Bel Air Sizzle, Zaskar, Annie Skates and My Baby Baby.

(Chart, Equibase)

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