Fleet Renee Eager In Final Kentucky Oaks Work

Tossing her head and fighting the bit, an eager Fleet Renee charged down the Churchill Downs backstretch Tuesday morning. She was trying to take off again while galloping out following her final work before Friday's Kentucky Oaks -- something that exercise rider Lisa Tenney called "a good sign." The filly's official clocking for the three-furlong move was :36 4/5, but trainer Michael Dickinson said he timed the 3-year-old daughter of Seattle Slew in :37.14.

"We did an easy first furlong and then I let her out a bit, and she just cruised," said Tenney, who also is Dickinson's assistant. "Actually, I had a hold of her the whole way. She went a little quicker the second furlong, so I took hold of her and was going 'whoa, whoa, whoa' all the way. She finished terrific. Then I was getting her pulled up, but while we were coming around the turn she wanted to go again. It (the work) took nothing out of her."

Dickinson watched the workout from the Churchill press box and kept in touch with Tenney via a two-way radio during the move. He also was pleased with Ashland Stakes winner's performance.

"We were aiming for :38, and we got :37.14," Dickinson said. "We're happy with that. We couldn't have gone any slower because Lisa was pulling her up in the last furlong and she still did it in :12. Today was just to give her a blow, to open her airways. But we didn't want to blow her mind. I don't want her to go out there on Friday and jump out going 45 (seconds) and change."

The morning line favorite for the Oaks, Fleet Renee has raced only five times in her career. She broke her maiden at Aqueduct last year in her second start at two. This year, prior to her upset victory in the Ashland over Golden Ballet on April 7, Fleet Renee won a mile allowance race at Aqueduct and the 1 1/16-mile Landaura Stakes at Laurel.

"From December, the Oaks has always been her objective," Dickinson said. "I never felt the Ashland (at 1 1/16 miles) would be far enough, and I didn't think the track (at Keeneland) would suit her. If we had been third in the Ashland, I would have been happy. This track does suit her better, the distance (of the Oaks) suits her better, and she's a much better filly now than she was then. We've still got three days to go, but at the moment, she's 'spot on.' She's a very good filly, and she's going to run the best race she's ever run."

--Scoop, winner of the National Jockey Club Oaks at Sportsman's Park on April 14, worked a half mile in :49 2/5. However, she wasn't entered in the Oaks after an endoscopic examination revealed signs of a respiratory infection.

--Platinum Tiara appears to have returned to form after a setback caused by a condition known commonly as "thumps," according to one of her co-owners, former Major League baseball player Rob Murphy. Scientifically, the problem is known as asynchronous diaphragmatic flutter, he said. A veterinarian made the diagnosis, but research on the Internet by some of the filly's other co-owners, Robb and Anne Allen, helped pinpoint the cause as a rice bran supplement that Platinum Tiara was being fed. The supplement was removed from the filly's diet following her fifth-place finish in the Jan. 28 Forward Gal Stakes at Gulfstream, and the filly slowly got better. She finished seventh in the Feb. 25 Davona Dale Stakes at Gulfstream, then rebounded with a victory in the Patricia Stakes on April 8 at Hialeah Park.

Murphy said the rice bran was causing Platinum to get too much phosphorous, in relation to calcium, in her diet. But Larry Bramlage, a well-known equine surgeon, said it is usually potassium, not phosphorous, that is too high when horses get the "thumps."

"It's an electrolyte disturbance," Bramlage explained. "The nerve that controls the diaphragm runs over the top of the heart. If it gets irritable -- meaning its electrolytes are disturbed so it's more likely to fire -- the heartbeat triggers the nerve in sequence with the heartbeat as opposed to the normal sequence with respiration. So, you'll see the diaphragm move every time the horse's heart beats instead of moving with the rib cage, like it's supposed to. If you look at the horse's side, it looks like it is thumping."