Unlimited Budget, Flashy Gray Head FG Oaks
An undefeated runner, a filly who has never been worse than second, and a grade I winner seeking to improve her 3-year-old form will come together March 30 for the $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots—all with hopes of launching a bid for the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.
Five of the last eight winners of the 1 1/16-mile Fair Grounds Oaks—the filly equivalent of the Louisiana Derby (gr. II)—have gone on to victory in Churchill's Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) on the first Friday in May. The most recent was Brereton Jones's Believe You Can, who accomplished the double Oaks parlay last spring. This year's edition of the Fair Grounds Oaks, to be run as race seven with an approximate post time of 4:20 p.m. CDT, is worth 100 points to the winner under Churchill Downs' new qualifying system for the May 3 Kentucky Oaks field.
Rachel Alexandra Stakes (gr. III) winner Unlimited Budget is the contender who has never been beaten in her three starts for Repole Stable and trainer Todd Pletcher including that 3 3/4-length tally last month and a 1 1/4-length victory in the Demoiselle Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct Racetrack in November. The sophomore daughter of Street Sense will be ridden by Javier Castellano from the outside post in a field of seven.
At 9-5 on the morning line, Unlimited Budget is second choice behind 6-5 favorite Flashy Gray, runner-up in the the March 9 Honeybee Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park. Prior to her 2 3/4-length finish behind Rose to Gold in Arkansas after chasing the pace throughout, the well-traveled Flashy Bull filly made her sophomore debut Feb. 10 at Gulfstream Park with a 4 3/4-length allowance win earned by a three-wide move after chasing the leader. It was her second straight victory; she broke her maiden with an impressive 10 1/4-length tally in her second start as a juvenile Nov. 8 at Churchill Downs.
Flashy Gray, set to break from post 5, is conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott for West Point Thoroughbreds and Tom Keithley, and will have Junior Alvarado in the saddle.
So Many Ways, assigned post 4, is trained by Anthony Dutrow and will be ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr.
$500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II, Race 7, approximate post 4:20 p.m. CDT), 3YO fillies, 1 1/16 miles (dirt)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Trainer, Odds
1. Promise Me More (KY), M. Mena, W E Hawley, 10-1
2. Seaneen Girl (KY), M. Garcia, B S Flint, 12-1
3. Ante Up Annie (LA), C.H. Borel, D Stewart, 15-1
4. So Many Ways (PA), B.J. Hernandez, Jr., A W Dutrow, 6-1
5. Flashy Gray (KY), J. Alvarado, W I Mott, 6-5
6. Blue Violet (KY), J. Graham, J L Jones, 12-1
7. Unlimited Budget (FL), J. Castellano, T A Pletcher, 9-5
All carry 121 pounds.
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