Plum Pretty, winner of last year’s Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), and runner-up St. Johns River will square off in the La Troienne Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill Downs May 4 on the Kentucky Oaks undercard. Plum Pretty, who bested her rival by a neck in last year’s Oaks, will shoulder top weight of 123 pounds compared to 118 for St. John's River in the $300,000 race.
The La Troienne, at 1 1/16 miles and the sixth race on the card, is for fillies and mares 4 and up and is scheduled to go off at 1:26 p.m. EDT.
Peachtree Stable’s Plum Pretty, who had won the Sunland Park Oaks by 25 lengths leading up to the Kentucky Oaks, has raced one other time at Churchill, finishing fifth, beaten six lengths, in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (gr. I) in November. Prior to the Ladies’ Classic, the daughter of Medaglia d'Oro won the Cotillion Stakes (gr. II) at Parx Racing in October.
Plum Pretty, who figures to vie for the lead from post 4, will be running for just the second time since the Breeders’ Cup. She won the Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) at Oaklawn Park on March 13 by 2 1/4 lengths over Absinthe Minded, who also will contest the La Troienne. Rafael Bejarano rides Plum Pretty for trainer Bob Baffert.
St. John’s River, campaigned by Dede McGehee, hasn’t been out since finishing a badly beaten fifth in the Alabama Stakes (gr. I) last summer at Saratoga Race Course. By Include , St. John’s River sports a single stakes win, that triumph coming in the Delaware Oaks (gr. II) last July. Rosie Napravik will ride for trainer Andrew Leggio Jr.
Absinthe Minded, the second-high weight at 120 pounds, will be looking for her third stakes win of the year. The daughter of Quiet American started 2012 with scores in the Pippin Stakes and the Bayakoa Stakes, both at Oaklawn. She then ran fourth in the Azeri Stakes (gr. III) prior to her runner-up effort in the Apple Blossom. Absinthe Minded, who finished fourth in last year’s La Troienne, is trained by D. Wayne Lukas for owner Briland Farm. She will be ridden by Mike Smith.
Juanita, winner of last fall’s Indiana Oaks (gr. II), was last seen in action when second to Horse of the Year Havre de Grace in the New Orleans Ladies Stakes at Fair Grounds March 17. By Mineshaft , Juanita was beaten 4 1/2 lengths in that encounter. Owned by William and Graydon Patterson, Juanita is trained by Mike Maker and will be ridden by Ramon Dominguez.
The three remaining contestants—Afleeting Lady, Maristar, and Love Theway Youare—are graded stakes-placed performers searching for their first stakes score. Afleeting Lady, by Afleet Alex , will be making her first start since she was beaten a neck in the Falls City Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill in November.
Maristar, by Giant's Causeway , also hasn’t raced since the Churchill meeting last November. She finished third in the Chilukki Stakes (gr. II).
Love Theway Youare, by Arch, finished second in the Santa Margarita Invitational Stakes (gr. I) in mid-March in her last outing.