Bret Calhoun trains Classy Act, the 5-2 choice for the March 24 Fair Grounds Oaks at Fair Grounds Race Course

Bret Calhoun trains Classy Act, the 5-2 choice for the March 24 Fair Grounds Oaks at Fair Grounds Race Course

Anne M. Eberhardt

Classy Act Heads Fair Grounds Oaks

Into Mischief filly was runner-up to Monomoy Girl in Rachel Alexandra Stakes (G2).

Runners who came home in the wake of Rachel Alexandra Stakes (G2) winner Monomoy Girl will take the next step on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots March 24 without that rival to contend with.

Monomoy Girl, a 2 1/2-length winner in the Feb. 17 race, will make her next start in the April 7 Ashland Stakes (G1) at Keeneland.

The 5-2 morning-line favorite in a field of nine for the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) is Carl R. Moore Management's Classy Act, who will break from the rail. Trained by Bret Calhoun, the daughter of Into Mischief  made her stakes debut last time out in the Rachel Alexandra and claimed the place behind Monomoy Girl to earn 20 qualifying points, good for 11th on the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard.

"She's been like the iron horse," Calhoun said. "She's had some hard races, and she's run hard. She keeps getting better and better. She just needs to learn how to turn off a little bit, and she's learning that. I think in her last race, a horse next to her was acting up a little bit in the gate, and she lost her concentration when they opened the gates. I think if she (leaves) there on time, she's up there cruising a lot more relaxed. Since (jockey) Javier (Castellano) had to smooch at her to keep her running, she got a little more keen."

Classy Act broke her maiden at fourth asking by four lengths over a yielding turf course at Fair Grounds in December before defeating winners over the Fair Grounds main track the following month.

The winner of the Fair Grounds Oaks will secure a spot in the 14-horse starting gate on the first Friday in May, as the race awards points to the top four finishers on a 100-40-20-10 scale.

Calhoun will also send out Craig Upham's Patrona Margarita, who breaks from post 5 at 10-1 odds under jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. Like her stablemate, the Texas-bred daughter of Special Rate also ran in the Rachel Alexandra but finished fourth, beaten 7 1/4 lengths. The Rachel Alexandra was her first start since an upset win at 23-1 in the Sept. 16 Pocahontas Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs

Breaking from post 8 is Wonder Gadot, the only filly in the race to have competed in the other two local preps on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks. Owned by Gary Barber and trained by Mark Casse, the Ontario-bred daughter of Medaglia d'Oro  made her sophomore debut in the Silverbulletday Stakes as the favorite but finished second, beaten a neck behind Stronger Than Ever.

In the Rachel Alexandra, Wonder Gadot finished third, 3 3/4 lengths behind Monomoy Girl. As a 2-year-old, she broke her maiden in her debut, which took place in an allowance race over the Woodbine turf course. She went on to win two graded stakes events as a juvenile—the Mazarine Stakes (G3) on Woodbine's Polytrack and the Demoiselle Stakes (G2) on dirt at Aqueduct Racetrack. Her only off-the-board effort took place in the 14 Hands Winery Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), where she finished sixth.

One newcomer is Magdalena Racing, Gainesway Stables, and Harold Lerner's Eskimo Kisses, a daughter of To Honor and Serve who will seek her third straight victory for trainer Kenny McPeek. Both of her last efforts took place at Oaklawn Park, where she broke her maiden Feb.1 and then romped in an allowance race by 11 1/2 lengths later that month.

Double Doors Racing's Chocolate Martini will look to continue her climb up the ladder following an upset win in an allowance race over the Fair Grounds main track at odds of 27-1 when she finished a neck ahead of next-out winner Haynesfest. Trainer Tom Amoss claimed the daughter of Broken Vow  from Calhoun for $25,000 two starts back.

Rounding out the field are Saguaro Row, America's Tale, She's A Julie, and Testing One Two.

Entries: Fair Grounds Oaks (G2)

Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, Saturday, March 24, 2018, Race 10

  • Grade II
  • 1 1/16m
  • Dirt
  • $400,000
  • 3 yo Fillies
  • 4:41 PM (local)
11Classy Act (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJavier Castellano122W. Bret Calhoun5/2
22Saguaro Row (KY)Gary L. Stevens122Brendan P. Walsh12/1
33America's Tale (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateMarcelino Pedroza122Bernard S. Flint10/1
44Eskimo Kisses (KY)Florent Geroux122Kenneth G. McPeek9/2
55Patrona Margarita (TX)Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.122W. Bret Calhoun10/1
66She's a Julie (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateCorey J. Lanerie122Steven M. Asmussen15/1
77Testing One Two (LA)Diego Saenz122Victor Arceneaux10/1
88Wonder Gadot (ON)Keeneland Sales GraduateJohn R. Velazquez122Mark E. Casse3/1
99Chocolate Martini (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateMitchell Murrill122Thomas M. Amoss10/1