Spoken Fur and jockey Jerry Bailey turned in a dominating performance to easily capture the $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) at Belmont Park Saturday, collecting the second jewel in New York's Triple Tiara for owner Amerman Racing Stables.
Spoken Fur, who recorded her fifth consecutive victory, can win a $2 million bonus by sweeping the 3-year-old filly series. The final race is the $750,000 Alabama Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga on Aug. 16.
Trained by Bobby Frankel, who took over training the gray/roan 3-year-old daughter of Notebook prior to her victory in the opening leg of the series, the Mother Goose (gr. I), Spoken Fur needed 2:31 to complete the 1 1/2-mile distance of the CCA Oaks. Carrying 121 pounds, she defeated the slowly closing Fircroft by 3 1/2 lengths. Savedbythelight, also closing late, was third.
``She's really been improving,'' Frankel said. ``Her demeanor is really good now. You always have a question about the mile-and-a-half, but the question was for all of them.''
Frankel has saddled seven winners in 11 graded stakes races offered in New York this year. Of his four remaining starters in Graded stakes races, none has finished worse than third.
Five of Frankel's winners have come in Grade I events; the Belmont Stakes, Metropolitan Handicap, Manhattan Handicap, Ogden Phipps Handicap and the Mother Goose Stakes. His other two Graded stakes wins came in the Grade II Shuvee and the Grade III Poker Stakes.
Bailey won the CCA Oaks for the fourth time in the last eight runnings. He also won on My Flag (1996), Banshee Breeze (1998), and On a Soapbox (1999).
The 4-5 favorite settled in midpack after a tangled run into the first turn as Shapes And Shadows set quick fractions, considering the distance, of :22 4/5 for the opening quarter-mile, :46 2/5 for the half and 1:11 3/5 for six furlongs. Bailey brought Spoken Fur outside on the turn as second choice Yell took over the lead from the fading pacesetter. Spoken Fur quickly assumed control at the top of the stretch and opened up by eight lengths in the drive for home while Bailey cruised in with a hand ride.
``I was surprised they went that fast,'' Frankel said. ``I thought Yell would hang in there a little tougher. If she runs like she has in the last two races, she should be tough to beat in the Alabama.''
George A. Smith and Dr. W.E. Johnston bred Spoken Fur, who is out of the dam Siberian Fur (Siberian Express).
She earned more $300,000 for the victory, her fifth time in nine career tries. She more than doubed her career earnings to $565,880.
Spoken Fur paid $3.80, $2.90 and $2.20. Fircroft, who was ridden by Jean-Luc Samyn, returned $8.30 and $6. Savedbythelight, with Jose Santos in the irons, showed for $4.40. The $2 exacta was worth $42.