Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Tanourin Stable's Silsita, a maiden winner in three starts, upset heavily favored Pure Fun and survived a stretch duel with 31-1 shot Marathon Lady to take the $100,000 Fathead Bourbonette Oaks (gr. III) for 3-year-old fillies by a nose at Turfway Park March 23 (VIDEO).
The gray/roan filly, a Florida-bred by Macho Uno out of the Wild Again mare Naturally Wild, earned 50 qualifying points for the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) in May. Tanourin Stable bred Silsita. The Bourbonette Oaks was her stakes debut and just her fourth start overall.
Ridden by John Velazquez for trainer Todd Pletcher, 9-1 shot Silsita broke well from post 11 in the field of 12 and secured position just behind front-running Martha's Moon, with Marathon Lady and Awesome Mama in the mix through an opening quarter-mile in :24.09 and a half-mile in :47.56.
Marathon Lady and jockey Robby Albarado slipped through along the rail as Martha's Moon faded but was quickly joined by Silsita after six furlongs in 1:12.08. Pure Fun, meanwhile, was moving well into third while tipping wide with rider Joel Rosario. The 4-5 favorite loomed the main threat as the field turned for home.
Silsita collared Marathon Lady from the outside, but the latter fought back to take a short lead near the wire. Silsita, however, got the final jump to win in 1:38.27 for one mile.
Pure Fun didn't run on and finished three lengths back in third. Silsita paid $20.40 as the third choice.
"It was a pretty easy trip," Velazquez said. "We broke well and we wanted to be where we were following somebody. It was perfect. I was trying to get her to slow down the first part of the race, and she did that nicely. She has showed improvement each time I've ridden her."
Silsita broke her maiden on the grass as a 2-year-old at Calder Casino & Race Course, then finished fourth on the dirt at Gulfstream Park in her 3-year-old debut. In her last start Feb. 2, the filly was third in a one-mile allowance event on the turf at Gulfstream.
"We thought we'd take a shot, and obviously it worked out quite well," assistant trainer Ginny DePasquale said of the winner. "I'm sure the Kentucky Oaks is up to Todd (Pletcher) and the owners."
Trainer Ken McPeek was high on Pure Fun for her return. He said she appeared to be "fighting the track" in the stretch but should benefit from the race.
"Up to the point that I needed to put her under a little pressure, she was running absolutely tremendously for me," jockey Garrett Gomez said of Pure Fun, who has been off since her victory in the Hollywood Starlet Stakes (gr. I) in December. "Everything was good until we turned for home. When she came off the turn, she just didn't want to switch leads."
Steve Hobby, who trains Marathon Lady, said he would ship the filly back to Oaklawn Park and decide a course of action from there. She broke her maiden at the Arkansas track last time out in her third start.