The field for the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) took on a different complexion March 25 when Avie's Sense was not among the six 3-year-old fillies entered for the $500,000 race March 31 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
The Oaks field is headed by Summer Applause, who defeated Avie’s Sense by a length in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes (gr. III). 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.
“Yes, we’ve had a little setback,” trainer Josie Carroll said of Avie's Sense, a Street Sense filly owned by Tall Oaks Farm who would have been the second choice. “We’re not quite 100% ‘bang on’ with her right now, and I think in a race like this you need to be. We’re going to back off this one and give her a little more time.”
Trained by Bret Calhoun for Gillian Campbell, R Group Management and Greenwood Lodge Farm, Summer Applause is the 8-5 favorite for the 1 1/16 mile test.
“She breezed very good yesterday and she came out of it good,” said trainer Bret Calhoun’s assistant “Peaches” Geier during training hours March 25 when speaking of Summer Applause’s half-mile move in :47 3/5. “(Jockey) Robby Albarado is really high on her. He says she just keeps getting better every day.”
Brereton Jones’s Believe You Can, winner of Fair Grounds’ $125,000 Silverbulletday Stakes Jan 21, has now been pegged as the 3-1 second choice. The filly, fourth in the Rachel Alexandra, will be ridden by Fair Grounds’ current leading rider Rosie Napravnik.
Colonial Empress, trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, has made two starts in her career, finishing fourth in Oaklawn’s Martha Washington Stakes Feb. 11 in her career debut and then coming back to run third behind the highly-regarded On Fire Baby in Oaklawn’s Honeybee (gr. III) March 10.
Jakes Ballis’s 3-year-old filly Inny Minnie, who worked 1:01 3/5 March 25, is the 4-1 third choice. The filly finished third in both the Rachel Alexandra and Silverbulletday.
Gainesway Thoroughbreds’ Small Kitchen, undefeated in two starts, both at Fair Grounds, is 9-2 in the Oaks early odds. She is trained by Mike Maker, and will have Eclipse Award-winning rider Ramon Dominguez.
Glencrest Farm’s Disposablepleasure, who won the Demoiselle (gr. II) last fall and was most recently third in the Davona Dale Stakes (gr. II), will invade from South Florida for trainer Todd Pletcher and is 5-1 in the morning line.
$500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II, Race 10, 4:58 p.m.), Fillies, 3 Year Olds, 1 1/16 Miles
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Believe You Can (KY), R Napravnnik, 121, J L Jones
2. Inny Minnie (KY), S Bridgmohan, 121, S Margolis
3. Colonial Empress (VA), C J Lanerie, 121, D W Lukas
4. Summer Applause (KY), R Albarado, 121, W B Calhoun
5. Disposablepleasure (KY), J Graham, 121, T A Pletcher
6. Small Kitchen (KY), R A Dominguez, 121, M J Maker