Close Hatches

Close Hatches

Anne M. Eberhardt

Oaks-Bound Close Hatches Breezes at Churchill

Juddmonte Farms' undefeated filly clocked a half-mile in :47 4/5 April 21.

Juddmonte Farms' undefeated filly Close Hatches had her first Churchill Downs work in preparation for the May 3 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), breezing a half-mile in :47 4/5 over a fast track under exercise rider Joanna Trout. The move was the second fastest of 81 at the distance April 21.

Working during the training period reserved for Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and Oaks horses after the morning renovation break, Close Hatches posted fractions of :11 4/5, :23 3/5, :35 3/5, and galloped out five furlongs in 1:01 1/5.

"I was very happy with her," Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott said of the daughter of First Defence. "She went very well. She looked bright and alert and seemed happy out there. She will work again next Sunday (April 28)."

Close Hatches will enter the Oaks off a victory in the April 6 Gazelle Stakes (gr. II), her third in as many starts. Bred in Kentucky by Millsec LTD., she has career earnings of $201,300.

Mott's other Oaks hopeful, West Point Thoroughbreds and Tom Keithley's Flashy Gray, arrived at Churchill from South Florida a few days ago and galloped after the break under exercise rider Penny Gardiner.

Mott said he has not set a work date for Flashy Gray, who worked four furlongs in :48 flat at Payson Park April 14. Junior Alvarado, who rode Flashy Gray to a runner-up finish behind Unlimited Budget in the March 30 Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II), has the Oaks riding assignment, according to Mott.