Making her first start on grass, favored Emollient staved off a determined Emotional Kitten in deep stretch to post a half-length victory in the $350,000 American Oaks (gr. IT) July 13 at Betfair Hollywood Park (VIDEO).
Shipping to Southern California from New York for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, Juddmonte Farms' homebred sophomore daughter of Empire Maker landed her second grade I victory of the season. She won the Ashland Stakes (gr. I) over the Polytrack at Keeneland two starts back April 6.
Ridden expertly by Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, Emollient rebounded from a badly-beaten sixth on dirt as an odds-on choice in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II) at Pimlico Race Course May 17. Smith won the American Oaks for the second year in a row following his rail-skimming ride aboard Lady of Shamrock last year.
Trying 1 1/4 miles for the first time, Emollient was timed in 2:02.38 over firm ground. Homebred Emotional Kitten, also shipping to Southern California for Kentucky owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey, was a game second, with Topic running on for third.
"(Emollient) answered a couple of questions today," noted Rodolphe Brisset, assistant to Mott. "We didn't know about the grass and we didn't know about the mile and one-quarter. That was a very good race for her.
"She's definitely going to stick to the turf, but we can keep in mind she won a grade I on the synthetic, too. It's one or the other, we can keep everything open."
In spite of her inexperience on turf, Emollient was the 6-5 pick in the field of eight 3-year-old fillies, with Honeymoon Handicap (gr. IIT) runner-up Scarlet Strike the 5-2 second choice.
After a slow break, Smith guided Emollient into a great stalking position third along the inside as Honeymoon winner Sarach galloped to the early lead over Macha, loping through opening fractions of :25,63 and :50.26. Making their way up the backstretch, Smith angled Emollient to the outside of the early leaders in an effort to help force the pace. They traveled six furlongs in 1:14.91 but by the time they reached the quarter pole in 1:38.40, Emollient was alongside Sarach and threatening to pull away.
"I got away slow, so I kept her covered up. She broke so flat-footed I just put her right in behind," said Smith, who has ridden Emollient in her past three starts. "I could tell how slow they were going, so I went for it to get on the clear and make the pace move. Looking back at it now, I can say it was a great move."
Emollient took a short lead in the lane but the rated Emotional Kitten, who also advanced into contention on the turn under Victor Espinoza, gradually cut into her advantage. The challenger continued to progress in deep stretch but was never able to get on even terms with Emollient, who finished up heartily while drfting out a bit under strong urging from Smith.
"Turning for home, I thought I had the race won, but she kind of hung the last eighth," Espinoza said of the runner-up Emotional Kitten, who was coming off a nose victory for trainer Wesley Ward in the Hilltop Stakes at Pimlico May 17. "She still ran a great race."
It was three parts of a length back to third-place finisher Topic, a maiden graduate last month for Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale. Topic finished with good interest with Garrett Gomez aboard, followed by Sarach, Becky Lou, Scarlet Strike, Macha and Wittgenstein.
Emollient is the first foal out of her dam, 9-year-old Touch Gold mare Soothing Touch, who was purchased for $550,000 by Juddmonte at the 2005 Keeneland September yearling sale from Lane's End, agent. Soothing Touch's first dam is a half sister to French highweight Denebola, and related to other group/grade victors Snake Mountain and Loving Kindness. Another half sister, Moonlight's Box, produced French champion Bago (by Nashwan).
Soothing Touch's second dam, group I winner Coup de Genie (by Mr. Prospector) was highweighted in France.
Emollient improved her career mark to 4-2-0 in eight races with earnings of $656,900.
She paid $4.40, $4.20, and $4.20 and keyed a $27 exacta with Emotional Kitten, who returned $8 and $5. Fast-developing Topic paid $6.80 to show.