Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) contender High Again breezed a strong half-mile in :47 4/5 at Churchill Downs Monday after the renovation break with jockey Larry Melancon deputizing for Cornelio Velasquez in the saddle. Trainer Bill Mott, Churchill’s all-time leading conditioner by victories, looks forward to participating in Louisville’s landmark race for 3-year-old fillies with his grade II winner.
“It would be very special for me to win the Oaks,” he said. “It’s a thrill to be able to run it, much less how special it would be to actually win it. It’s a big, big deal for those of us who have been around here a long time.”
As for Monday’s drill, Mott took in the action aboard his pony on the racetrack. “It looked like she broke off very well and galloped out very well. Here on Derby week, you can’t see both sides of the track unless you’re riding in the Goodyear Blimp.”
Mott said that his Bonnie Miss (gr. II) winner likely would walk the shedrow Tuesday morning, but added, “Let’s see how she acts. If she’s high, we may take her out and gallop her.”
Meanwhile, Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) winner Mistical Plan arrived at Churchill Downs on Sunday after spending the past month at Keeneland, where she was fifth in the Ashland (gr. I). The Doug O'Neill-trained filly made her first trip around Churchill Downs on Monday morning, jogging about three-quarters of a mile and galloping 1 1/4 miles with exercise rider Tony Romero aboard.
O’Neill was pleased with the look of the Game Plan filly, who was second in Churchill’s Pocahontas Stakes (gr. III) last October in her lone start at the track.
“She ran well over this track last year,” he said. “She loved Keneeland, but it seems she does get over this track a little bit easier. Especially right now, it’s real fast and she just skips over it and looked fantastic.”
Mistical Plan will gallop each morning up to the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) on Friday.