Balance Turns in Final Oaks Work; Headed Toward Churchill Downs

Likely Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) favorite Balance turned in a six-furlong work in 1:11.60 at her Hollywood Park base Friday. She is scheduled to ship to Churchill Downs April 29.

"She looked great," said trainer David Hofmans. "She finished really strong. I was pretty happy with the work. I wasn't expecting such a fast work, but she was chasing another horse and just did her thing."

Hofmans said the daughter of Thunder Gulch galloped out in 1:24 2/5 under jockey Victor Espinoza.

The trainer said Balance would gallop up to May 5 race and would receive gate and paddock schooling.

"She doesn't get nervous in the paddock, but she gets on the muscle," Hofmans said. "Especially during Oaks and Derby time when there is so much going on it can get stressful for everyone. We just want to do a little gate work and take her to the paddock."

Hofmans is not stranger to prepping horses for big races, having won the 1996 Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) with Alphabet Soup, 2003 Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) with Adoration, and the 1997 Belmont (gr. I) with Touch Gold.

Both Balance and Adoration are owned by John and Jerry Amerman. Adoration, who was retired in September 2004 due to an ankle injury, produced an Empire Maker  colt this year.

Bred in Kentucky by Eric Kronfeld's Maverick Production Limited, Balance enters the Kentucky Oaks after a disappointing third-place finish in the Ashland Stakes (gr. I) after winning back-to-back grade I's in the Las Virgenes and the Santa Anita Oaks, respectively.

"The Ashland wasn't like her at all," the trainer said. "She just didn't get a hold of the track at all. She was staggering around.

"She did come out of the race in good order. We had her X-rayed, nuclear scanned, and did all of the blood work. She seems really good right now."

Balance is scheduled to leave California Saturday morning and is expected to arrive at Churchill Downs around 1 p.m. The two-time grade I winner will be stabled at the barn of Grant Hofmans, the son of trainer David Hofmans.