Several contenders for the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), including four trained by Todd Pletcher, went to the track at Churchill Downs the morning of April 20 as they continued to work toward the May 3 filly classic.
Stonestreet Stables' Dreaming of Julia, a scintillating 21 3/4-length winner of the Gulfstream Park Oaks (gr. II) last out, breezed a half-mile in :48 4/5 for Pletcher under exercise rider Humberto Zamora. The A.P. Indy filly was timed in fractional splits of :12 2/5, :24, and :36 3/5 while galloping out five furlongs in 1:01, six furlongs in 1:13, and seven furlongs in 1:26 3/5. The grade I winner pulled up after a mile in 1:44.
"I thought she had another very good work today," Pletcher said. "We were looking for a solid work with a good gallop out and I thought she did that very well. After a monstrous effort, we were anxious to see how she bounced out of it. Her appetite, energy level and enthusiasm have all been terrific since that race. If (the Gulfstream Oaks) did take something out of her, she hasn't shown it."
Two Pletcher trainees—Unlimited Budget (by Street Sense ) and Silsita (by Macho Uno )—worked in tandem, breezing five furlongs in 1:00 3/5. Unlimited Budget, winner of the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) for owner Repole Stable, was on the inside, with Silsita, the Fathead Bourbonette Oaks (gr. III) winner owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Tanour Stable, outside her stablemate. The pair were timed in fractional splits of :12, :23 4/5, :36, and :48 2/5 while galloping out six furlongs in 1:14 and 1:13 4/5.
"We switched positions with them and put Unlimited Budget on the inside this time," Pletcher said. "It seemed like it was maybe a touch deeper on the inside. I thought both fillies worked well, but Silsita was a little bit stronger on the gallop out today. Last week, Unlimited Budget was on the outside and she was a little bit stronger, so I don't know if there's anything to that or not."
Unlimited Budget worked under Patti Krotenko and Silsita worked under Hall of Fame rider Gary Stevens.
"There's a good chance Gary will have the mount (in the Kentucky Oaks)," Pletcher said. "I'm going to talk to (co-owner) Aron Wellman later, but I'd say Gary is the leading candidate at this point."
"I thought Princess of Sylmar's work was OK this morning," Pletcher said. "It looked like she was struggling with the racetrack a little bit down the lane. I would say I need to see her work next week before making a decision on whether she'll run in the Oaks or not."
Fantasy Stakes (gr. II) winner Rose to Gold breezed four furlongs in :48 1/5; the daughter of Friends Lake was timed in fractional splits of :12 1/5, :24 1/5, and :36. The filly, owned by Kathleen Amaya and Raffaele Centofanti and trained by Sal Santoro ,galloped out five furlongs in 1:01 2/5. Rose to Gold's five wins in seven starts include the Delta Princess and Honeybee Stakes, both grade III.
"I'm told she worked really well," trainer Sal Santoro said from his barn at Calder Casino & Race Course. "The plan right now is to breeze her one more time before the race. We're trying to keep on the same schedule we've used since day one. In the end, though, it's all up to her. She'll tell me what she wants and what she needs."
Rose to Gold was purchased as a yearling for $1,400 and has earned $717,889 while under the care of Santoro, who said he was flying to Kentucky on April 21 and would be at Churchill Downs on the morning of April 22.
"You're not going to find a perfect one out there," Santoro said. "But if a horse has symmetry and everything looks like it's where it should be, then I don't think price really makes a difference. The great thing about horses is they don't know who their parents are and they don't care. Rose is a Cinderella story, except she doesn't have glass slippers; she's got glue-on shoes.
"It's very exciting to even be on the same racetrack with the likes of Bill Mott and Todd Pletcher and Dale Romans and all of these guys. I consider it an honor to be able to compete against them. To be able to compete at Churchill Downs in one of their signature races is very exciting and very humbling."