Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert will be seeking to add to his four victories in the Sunland Park Oaks when he sends impressive maiden winner Midnight Lucky in the $200,000 race March 24 at Sunland Park.
Baffert has dominated the Sunland Park Oaks, winning the 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2012 renewals with Tough Tiz's Sis, Gabby's Golden Gal, Plum Pretty, and Princess Arabella, respectively. Plum Pretty went on to win the 2011 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). This year's Sunland Park Oaks, to be run at 1 1/16 miles, will be worth 50 qualifying points for entry to the Kentucky Oaks should that May 3 race at Churchill Downs be oversubscribed.
Midnight Lucky, a 3-year-old daughter of Midnight Lute racing for Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman, was an impressive seven-length debut winner at Santa Anita Park Feb. 16, running the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.25, for which she earned a 100 Beyer figure.
Since breaking her maiden, Midnight Lucky has put in strong works, including a five-furlong clip in :58 1/5, the fastest time among 24 working that distance March 6 at Santa Anita. Her most recent drill, five furlongs in 1:00 4/5, was March 18.
Also shipping in from Southern California is Unusual Way, a daughter of Latent Heat who has three wins and two seconds on her resume for trainer Jeff Bonde. The California-bred filly has two stakes wins and two runner-up efforts in stakes in her four previous starts for owners Edward J. Brown Jr. and Philip Lebherz.
The Oaks also drew the top three finishers from the Feb. 24 SUN Island Fashion Stakes at Sunland Park. Stonestreet Stables' Countess Curlin kicked clear late to win the mile test by four lengths as the favorite. The Kentucky-bred daughter of Curlin has posted three consecutive mile victories since finishing second in her career debut at 5 1/2 furlongs at Remington Park last fall.
Also coming out of the SUN Island Fashion are runner-up Shesatopattraction, a homebred racing for Tommy Town Thoroughbreds who has an overnight stakes win to her credit, and third-place finisher Infinitely, trained by Joel Marr for owner-breeder Michael Stinson.
Trainer Todd Pletcher is shipping Majestic River to New Mexico from Gulfstream Park, where the daughter of A.P. Indy won at first asking going a mile and then finished a close second, beaten three parts of a length in an allowance race over a sloppy main track.
$200,000 Sunland Park Oaks (Race 10, 5:08 p.m.), 3YO Fillies, 1 1/16 Miles (Dirt), Weight 121 Pounds
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Unusual Way (CA), E A Maldonado, J Bonde
2. Canticle (KY), A J Juarez, Jr., C A Hartman
3. Majestic River (KY), J R Velazquez, T A Pletcher
4. Fraudulentfootnote (KY), D L Sterling, I Green
5. Midnight Lucky (KY), R Bejarano, B Baffert
6. Countess Curlin (KY), L Contreras, S M Asmussen
7. Shesatopattraction (CA), E P Gomez, H Dominguez
8. Infinitely (KY), K S Tohill, J H Marr