Kentucky Oaks Field Could be Full
Photo: Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Plum Pretty, one of the likely starters in the Oaks, arrived at Churchill Downs on April 21.

With the addition of Suave Voir Faire and Royal Delta to the list of prospective starters in the 137 running of the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), there are 16 fillies listed as “likely” or “possible” for the May 6 race for 3-year-old fillies.
      
The 1 1/8-mile Oaks is limited to 14 starters, with preference to those with highest earnings in graded stakes.
       
Fillies listed as “likely” for Oaks 137 (with graded stakes earnings totals) include: R Heat Lightning ($910,000), Joyful Victory ($345,000), Kathmanblu ($328,525), Daisy Devine ($300,000), Lilacs and Lace ($244,750), Zazu ($238,185), St. John's River ($100,000), Holy Heavens ($55,000) and Plum Pretty ($48,000).
      
Listed as “possible” for Oaks 137 are: Bouquet Booth ($326,000), Delightful Mary ($244,501), Arienza ($60,000), Summer Soiree ($58,900) and Suave Voir Faire ($25,552).
       
Possible Oaks starters with no graded earnings are Royal Delta and Street Storm.

Robert and Lawana Low’s Arienza, the fashionably bred runner-up in Oaklawn Park’s $300,000 Fantasy Stakes (gr. II), worked for the first time over the historic racing strip at Churchill Downs on Friday, April 22.

The daughter of Giant’s Causeway out of 2002 U.S. Horse of the Year Azeri breezed four furlongs over a fast track in :49.40, which ranked as the 13th fastest move of 43 at the distance.

Trainer Dan Peitz said the status of a possible bid for the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) by his rising star remains uncertain.
      
“I was just looking for her to go easy,” said Peitz, who saddled Real Cozzy for a runner-up finish to Juddmonte Farm’s Flute in the 2001 renewal of the Kentucky Oaks.
       
While the Kentucky Oaks remains an option for the inexperienced Arienza, whose loss in the Fantasy was her first loss in three career races, Peitz said the $100,000 Eight Belles (gr. III) at seven furlongs on the Kentucky Oaks undercard is a more likely spot for his filly’s next race.
       
“I think the Eight Belles right now is what I’m really looking at,” Peitz said.  “But I’m here and we’ll let her tell me.  We’ll see how she’s doing, and how everybody else is doing, too.”
       
Arienza won a six-furlong maiden race March 6 at Oaklawn Park in her career debut. She followed that with a one-mile victory in a March 27 allowance race, then ran in the 1 1/16-mile Fantasy on April 10.
       
“I was disappointed in the Fantasy, but when it’s all said and done, we just crammed so much into a short period,” Peitz said. “I’m not saying we should have won the race. I just thought we should have been more competitive than we were.”
       
Arienza has earned $109,500 in her three races – including $60,000 in graded stakes earnings from her runner-up finish in the Fantasy.

Also working Friday was Fleur De Lis Stable’s Suave Voir Faire, who breezed five furlongs in 1:02 1/5 at Highpointe Training Center in LaGrange, Ky.

Trained by Daniel “Speedy” Smithwick Jr., who is among the co-owners of the daughter of Suave, Suave Voir Faire finished a distant third to Oaks contender Summer Soiree in the Bourbonette Oaks (gr. III) on Polytrack at Turfway Park last time out. She also has to her credit a third-place finish to Oaks hopeful Kathmanblu in Churchill Downs’ Golden Rod (gr. II), along with a pair of good allowance runs over the winter at Fair Grounds. 

She finished a length behind eventual Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) winner and Kentucky Oaks contender Daisy Devine in a mile and 40 yard event on Dec. 30, and then ran third to Switching Gears and eventual Fair Grounds Oaks runner-up and Kentucky Oaks hopeful St. John’s River in a race at a mile and 70 yards on Feb. 25.
       
“She wants to go a little more ground than she’s been,” Smithwick said. “We went to the Fair Grounds and she kind of got sick on us, and I think she’s only now just getting right.”
       
Smithwick, the son of the late Hall of Fame steeplechase trainer Daniel “Mikey” Smithwick, said the $100,000-added Edgewood on the Kentucky Derby card is a back-up race for Suave Voir Faire. That race for 3-year-old fillies is run at 1 1/16 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course.

“It’s going to be fun,” he said. “We’re all local Kentuckians and we’re right here in our own backyards, and we might get to run for a million dollars.”
       
Given her backup option in the Edgewood, Smithwick said Suave Voir Faire could work on the grass over the next two weeks. Turf works at Churchill Downs are scheduled to begin on Tuesday, April 26.
       
Meanwhile, Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott confirmed by telephone that Palides Investment’s Royal Delta was a “possible” for a run in the Kentucky Oaks. The daughter of A.P. Indy won a 1 1/16-mile allowance race over Polytrack at Keeneland on April 15 for her second win in three career starts.
       
“She’ll go either in the Oaks or the Black-Eyed Susan (at Pimlico on May 20),” Mott said.
       
Royal Delta launched her career in impressive style with a 12-length romp in a one-mile maiden race on Oct. 30 at Belmont Park. But she did not race again until she finished a disappointing ninth to Wyomia in the $75,000 Suncoast on March 12 at Tampa Bay Downs. She was a three-length winner in her return to competition last week.
       
Mott’s filly is stabled at Keeneland.

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