Oaks, Acorn Winners Headed for Mother Goose

(from Churchill Downs notes)
Lemons Forever, the upset winner of the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), heads to New York for Saturday's $250,000 Mother Goose (gr. I) over nine furlongs at Belmont Park.

Bushfire, winner of the Ashland Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland and a gritty winner of the Acorn (gr. I) at Belmont last time out, appears ready to make her next start in the Mother Goose as well.

After rallying from last in the 1 1/8-mile Oaks to win by 1 ½ lengths May 5, Lemons Forever will have to prove to the skeptics that her win was not a fluke. She will board a plane bound for New York on Thursday in the first race for the daughter of Lemon Drop Kid  since her breakthrough victory for owner-trainer Dallas Stewart and co-owners Leon, Willis, and Terry Horton.

"She's doing sharp, and we feel like she's ready," said Stewart. "She should be as good, or maybe even a little better, than what she ran last time."

The Kentucky Oaks victory under jockey Mark Guidry improved the career record of Lemons Forever to 3-1-1 in six races and raised her earnings to $483,929.

Stewart elected to forego a workout for his filly in the week leading up to the Mother Goose. Her most recent training move was a blistering five-furlong work in :59 on June 16 that was the fastest move of 27 on the day. Prior to that, Lemons Forever had breezed a brisk half-mile in :47 3/5, the second best of 27 works at the distance June 9.

"She worked great and came out of her works even better," said Stewart. "She'd go into a work, she'd be doing well, and she worked hard. Then she'd come out of it, and she just couldn't stand herself. She's training excellent. We're looking forward to running her, and we're hoping the track's fast."

That could be significant after a week of heavy rain has soaked the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast.

Trainer Eddie Kenneally said that Bushfire, the daughter of Louis Quatorze, would be on a plane Thursday for the trip to New York. Kenneally had been mulling several options for his two-time grade I winner but said the prospect of a small field and the excellent condition of Bushfire have convinced him to take her back to Belmont.

The race will provide a rematch with Lemons Forever, who defeated Bushfire in the Kentucky Oaks. The latter finished third in the Oaks but was disqualified and placed sixth after she interfered with a rival in the run through the homestretch.

Even though she was scheduled to board a plane within 24 hours, Kenneally was hesitant to say that he was completely sure that Bushfire would run in the Mother Goose.

"My only concern is that it's only been 21 days since she ran," said Kenneally. "There are other races, but there aren't that many Grade Ones. We want to try to take advantage of the track there and the fact that she's had a good race over the track."