Headed by Rachel Alexandra Stakes (gr. III) winner Summer Applause, the field for the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) for 3-year-old fillies is taking shape.
Trained by Bret Calhoun for Gillian Campbell, Greenwood Lodge and R Group Management, Summer Applause won the Feb. 25 Rachel Alexandra in a prep for the March 31 Oaks at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. Four of the last seven Fair Grounds Oaks winners have gone on to victory in that season’s Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), scheduled for May 4 this year.
Among the top challengers for Summer Applause is Tall Oaks Farm’s Avie's Sense, the Josie Carroll-trained pacesetter in the Rachel Alexandra. Thrown into graded stakes competition after a 5 ¾-length triumph in her maiden win, Avie’s Sense finished second in the Rachel Alexandra.
Also expected back for the Fair Grounds Oaks is Brereton Jones’s Believe You Can, winner of Fair Grounds’ $125,000 Silverbulletday Stakes Jan. 21 before finishing fourth in the Rachel Alexandra.
The Oaks is expected to include Glencrest Farm’s Disposablepleasure, a Todd Pletcher trained filly who won Aqueduct’s Demoiselle (gr. II) last November and was fourth in Gulfstream’s Davona Dale (gr. II), and Gainesway Thoroughbreds’ Small Kitchen, a Mike Maker-trained filly who is undefeated in two races over the Fair Grounds surface.