Trainer Tom Proctor confirmed the morning of April 29 that he will enter Niall Racing's homebred filly Please Explain in the Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). Jockey Jose Lezcano will ride the dark bay or brown filly in the May 2 race.
"I brought her back to Churchill and she's been training good," said Proctor of the daughter of Curlin , who most recently drilled five furlongs in 1:01 3/5 over the Louisville oval April 26. Before that, she covered the same distance in 1:01 1/5 in company with stablemate Myositis Dan.
"I breezed her a couple works back with (Myositis Dan), who was third in the Derby Trial (gr. III)...he got beat just a nose," Proctor said. "I was thinking about running her anyway and that (work) kind of sealed it."
Proctor said there's nothing that really physically stands out about Please Explain, who has experienced a couple of troubled recent starts. She finished third in the March 8 Honeybee Stakes (gr. III), but got disqualified to unplaced for a medication violation. She then finished seventh, beaten 10 lengths by fellow Oaks contender Sugar Shock in the April 5 Fantasy Stakes (gr. III).
In spite of those struggles, Proctor is confident Please Explain's training tactics at Churchill might translate to a big effort in the Run for the Lilies.
"She's just a plain filly, but is straightforward in her training," Proctor said. "She's also a late-running filly. A lot of these horses will struggle down the lane, but I think she'll be able to come running, so we'll see."
Niall Racing is the nom de course of brothers Donard Niall and Michael Niall of Australia. The Nialls, who moved to the United States in the mid-2000s, keep a few broodmares in Kentucky and also campaigned 2013 Kentucky Cup Turf Stakes (gr. III) winner Temeraine. They bred Please Explain from the Pine Bluff mare Lizzy's Bluff.
"She's just steadily gotten a little better," said Proctor of Please Explain, who broke her maiden on her fourth attempt at Gulfstream Park in December, before which she was second by a head in a one-mile Churchill event. She will enter the Oaks with a record of 2-2-1 from seven starts and earnings of $80,867.
Although the filly will enter the Oaks as a major underdog, Proctor believes she has the ability to be a viable contender in the May 2 race.
"You've got to like (Steve) Asmussen's filly (Untapable)...there are two or three in (the Oaks) that are really good, but (Please Explain) will run her race. If she was a horse that showed speed, I probably wouldn't run her, but seeing that she's a one-run horse down the lane...even if she's out-classed, it's not going to kill her."