Farrell wins the Pippin Stakes at Oaklawn Park Jan. 13

Farrell wins the Pippin Stakes at Oaklawn Park Jan. 13

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Farrell the One to Beat in Bayakoa Stakes

Daughter of Malibu Moon has righted the ship after Kentucky Oaks defeat.

There are defeats that sting in the immediate aftermath. There are ones that continue to gnaw even when time offers the benefit of perspective. There may be no competitive loss more painful, however, than a setback that threatens to break an athlete's will.

When multiple graded stakes winner Farrell was eased across the finish line in last over the rain-soaked track in the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) last May, the main concern once it was determined she was physically fine was that her spirit may have gotten a bit dinged. When she returned in September and could only run fifth as the favorite in the Dogwood Stakes, more doubt crept in over whether the Wayne Catalano-trained filly would regain her best form.

Since the evening of Nov. 4, the old Farrell has reemerged much to the relief of her connections. With back-to-back stakes victories now under her belt, the dark bay daughter of Malibu Moon  aims to build on her rejuvenated swagger when she starts in the $150,000 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park Feb. 17.

Stick a thumb over her efforts in the Oaks and Dogwood, and Farrell's past performance lines have an ultra-consistent look to them. She brought a four-race win streak into the first Friday in May last season—including handy victories in the Twinspires.com Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) and Rachel Alexandra Stakes (G2)—demonstrating the kind of tactical speed that had some thinking she could ultimately emerge as one of her division's leaders.

Those hopes got sidetracked with her two off-form outings but a one-length win in the Chilukki Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs last November told her crew the real Farrell was coming back. In her seasonal bow in the Jan. 13 Pippin Stakes at Oaklawn, she reinforced that effort with a gate-to-wire victory over a field that included fellow Bayakoa entrants Streamline and Terra Promessa.

"Wayne is very pleased. She's doing very well and showing a lot of spirit and enthusiasm for racing still so she's not soured on that," said Bob Cummings of Coffee Pot Stables, which owns and bred Farrell. "We're looking forward to a good year, fingers crossed, recognizing that it is horse racing and that you have to be ready for just about anything. 

"She just didn't handle that track (in the Kentucky Oaks) but the Chilukki was a good reaffirmation that she's got serious talent, and that was confirmed in the Pippin."

The Bayakoa's 1 1/16-mile distance is one Farrell excels over, having earned three of her graded wins over 8 1/2 furlongs. Should she keep moving forward this weekend, a start in the April 13 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) would likely be next.

"We're hoping sometime during the (year), we might try going against (champion female sprinter) Unique Bella," Cummings said. "If (Farrell) stays healthy and continues to show good strength, we'd love to see her in the Breeders' Cup Distaff (at Churchill Downs) in November. But that's a long ways away and a lot has to happen between now and then."

Though she has lost her last three starts over the Oaklawn surface, Terra Promessa was queen of Hot Springs not all that long ago. The Steve Asmussen-trained daughter of Curlin  was unbeaten in her first five starts at the track including taking last year's edition of the Bayakoa by 4 3/4 lengths in front-running style.

In the Pippin Stakes, Terra Promessa rated in second while Farrell cut fractions of :23.32 and :46.94 for a half-mile before fading to fifth.

Streamline is another horse for the course, breaking through to earn her first graded win in last year's Azeri Stakes (G2). The 6-year-old daughter of Straight Line has not been worse than third in nine starts at Oaklawn including most recently taking show money in the Pippin.

Entries: Bayakoa S. (G3)

Oaklawn Park, Saturday, February 17, 2018, Race 9

  • Grade III
  • 1 1/16m
  • Dirt
  • $150,000
  • 4 yo's & up Fillies and Mares
  • 5:09 PM (local)
11Polar River (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateLuis Contreras115Brendan P. Walsh12/1
22Sully's Dream (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateFernando De La Cruz117John Alexander Ortiz15/1
33Farrell (KY)Channing Hill122Wayne M. Catalano9/5
44Streamline (IL)Gary L. Stevens119Brian Williamson4/1
55Torrent (KY)David Cohen119Ron Moquett9/2
66Terra Promessa (KY)Ricardo Santana, Jr.119Steven M. Asmussen2/1
77Defy (KY)David Cabrera115Chris A. Hartman15/1