Sizzling Oonagh Maccool Favored in Louisville

Irish-bred Oonagh Maccool, who romped to victory in her last start for trainer Todd Pletcher, breaks from the rail as the 5-2 morning line favorite in the $300,000 Louisville Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) for fillies and mares at Churchill Downs Friday.

One of six stakes races on the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) card at Churchill, the Louisville drew a strong field of eight to contest the 1 1/16-mile main track event.

Oonagh Maccool, a 4-year-old Giant's Causeway  filly, drew off to win Gulfstream Park's Rampart Handicap (gr. II) as a heavy favorite by 2 1/2 lengths on March 25. It was her third start in the United States after transferring from Great Britain for owner Charles H. Wacker III. She has won four five lifetime starts and and will once again be ridden by Rafael Bejarano. The chestnut carries 117 pounds, two less than the top-weighted Sweet Symphony.

Sweet Symphony, owned by George Steinbrenner's Kinsman Farm and trained by Bill Mott, is the 3-1 co-second choice after running second in the Rampart in her 2006 debut. Winner of the Alabama (gr. I) at Saratoga in August, the 4-year-old Sweet Symphony led in the stretch run of the Rampart, but could not hold off the surging Oonagh Maccool while suffering her third consecutive defeat. The A.P. Indy filly, who had won the first four starts of her career, is ridden by Cornelio Velasquez, who was aboard her for the first time in the Rampart.

The other 3-1 choice on the morning tab is Capeside Lady, a 3 1/2-length winner of Oaklawn's Bayakoa less than a month ago in her first start since being a well-beaten sixth in the 2005 Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I). Steve Asmussen trains the 5-year-old Cape Town mare who gets a new rider in the Louisville in Shaun Bridgmohan.

The Eric Kruljac-conditioned filly Leave Me Alone, 4-1 on the morning line, has lost five in a row since rolling to a 7 3/4-length win in Saratoga's Test (gr. I) as a 3-year-old. Although she hasn't won since the Test, the California-bred daughter of Bold Badgett has had three grade I placings in those five defeats. Garrett Gomez takes the mount.

In the Gold, out of the Nick Zito barn, has been soundly beaten in three starts since taking Belmont Park's Gazelle (gr. I) by 2 1/4 lengths in September. Corey Nakatani is aboard the Golden Missile filly for the first time.

$300,000 Louisville Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II, Race 8, 3:54 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles
Churchill Downs - May 5th, 2006 - Race 8
PP. Jockey, Weight, ML Odds
1. Oonagh Maccool (IRE), Rafael Bejarano, 117, 5/2
2. Capeside Lady (NY), Shaun Bridgmohan, 118, 3/1
3. Leave Me Alone (CA), Garrett K. Gomez, 117, 4/1
4. In the Gold (KY), Corey S. Nakatani, 117, 5/1
5. La Reason (KY), Javier Castellano, 114, 20/1
6. Private Gift (KY), Robby Albarado, 114, 15/1
7. Sweet Symphony (KY), Cornelio H. Velasquez, 119, 3/1
8. Gallant Secret (KY), Julien R. Leparoux, 114, 20/1