Brereton C. Jones’ homebred Believe You Can ran past Broadway's Alibi in the stretch to win the 138th running of the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) by three-quarters of length at Churchill Downs. Grace Hall, the 5-2 favorite, rallied to finish third (VIDEO).
Rosie Napravnik—the first woman jockey to win the Oaks—was aboard the winner.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Napravnik, who also landed the first grade I win of her career. “I’m just so happy and so grateful to be here. I cried a little, but I don’t think I’m done crying yet."
"Last year was kind of a tease," she said. "I was so close but not there and this year I was determined to be the one in the winner's circle and I had the right horse to do it."
Broadway’s Alibi was the leader first time by the wire and was followed by Believe You Can, Colonial Empress, and On Fire Baby. Broadway’s Alibi set early fractions of :23.12, :47.47, and 1:11.08 on a track labeled fast but slightly dampened by a storm that came through the Louisville area and delayed racing for 45 minutes.
Broadway’s Alibi and Believe You Can pulled away from the rest of the field as they straightened away for home and they hit the eighth pole together after a mile in 1:36.33. The final time for the nine furlongs was 1:49.50.
"I think she handled the track OK but the first time over a track she paddles a lot," said jockey John Velazquez of Broadway's Alibi. "She lost some momentum. The ground broke away from her. I don't think the distance hurt her; she ran a huge race."
Sent off a 13-1, Believe You Can paid $29.60, $11.80, and $6.40. Broadway’s Alibi paid $6 and $4.20. Grace Hall returned $3.20 to show. The 9-6 exacta paid $173 and the 9-6-2 trifecta paid $587.20.
"The track was playing for speed today," said jockey Javier Castellano, who was aboard Grace Hall. "Unfortunately it didn't work out for me. They didn't come back to me."
Castellano was lucky to ride in the Oaks. He fell off his mount Star Channel, turning for home in the American Turf Stakes (gr. IIT), the race prior to the Oaks.
Believe You Can is a daughter of Airdrie Stud stallion Proud Citizen out of the El Prado mare El Fasto. She came into the Oaks off a head win over Summer Applause in the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II).
Believe You Can broke her maiden in her second attempt in July, then won a six-furlong optional claiming race at Delaware Park Aug. 16. Given a break until October, Believe You Can won the one-mile Tempted Stakes (gr. III) in the mud at Belmont Park. She ran sixth behind Oaks runners On Fire Baby and Summer Applause in the Pocahontas Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill Downs.
During the winter at Fair Grounds Race Course and Slots, she won the Jan. 21 Silverbulletday Stakes and then ran a dull fourth, beaten 7 1/4 lengths in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes (gr. III) at 1 1/16 miles. She then wired the field in the Fair Grounds Oaks.
Confidence exuded from the Jones’ barn after Believe You Can fired a bullet :58 2/5 work in the mud April 29.
She earned $564,200 for her Oaks victory, lifting her career earnings to $1,059,484 with six wins from nine starts.
The win is the second for the Jones boys—breeder/owner Brereton Jones and trainer Larry Jones—as they sent out Proud Spell to win the Oaks in 2008. Proud Spell was later named champion 3-year-old filly.
“It’s not Brereton Jones, it’s Larry Jones and his team and the staff at Airdrie Stud that makes this,” Brereton Jones said after the race.
Napravnik was aboard the Jones-trained Totally Tucker to win the race after the Oaks.
With a 45-minute wind/rain delay prior to the American Turf, the race prior to the Oaks, the post time for the Oaks was delayed from 5:45 to 6:20 p.m.
Churchill reported Oaks day attendance of 112,552, the second largest in Oaks history.