In her first start, Chocolate Martini finished last of 12.
In her most recent, she won the $392,000 Twinspires.com Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) and soared to the top of the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard.
Picking the Broken Vow filly up for a $25,000 tag in February might have been business as usual for trainer Tom Amoss and the fledgling Double Doors Racing, but the timing was perfect and led to Amoss landing his first edition of the Fair Grounds Oaks March 24 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
“We were very, very lucky to get this horse just as she was starting to become a better racehorse, which you see a lot with the young horses,” the New Orleans native said. “I can’t stress enough how lucky we were to get her while she was maturing.”
With just one win under her belt—a Jan. 12 maiden claiming score in a mile dirt event with a $15,000 purse—Chocolate Martini was shifted from turf back to the main track by her new connections, who claimed her when she finished fourth Feb. 2 going 7 1/2 furlongs on the Fair Grounds grass for Bret Calhoun and Carl Moore Management.
She's been perfect in two starts since.
After winning a Feb. 18 allowance/optional claimer by a neck going a mile and 70 yards at odds of 27-1 at the New Orleans track, the bay filly thrust herself into contention for the May 4 Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) in her stakes debut with a qualifying score at odds of 13-1.
With jockey Mitchell Murrill in the irons en route to his first graded win Saturday, Chocolate Martini moved toward the rail to save ground early as frontrunning favorite Classy Act set opening fractions of :23.39 and :46.28. Sixth as three-quarters went in 1:11.02, the eventual winner angled five wide out of the far turn and closed strongly to get the lead at the sixteenth pole from Classy Act. That one had opened up by more than three lengths at the top of the stretch, but tired and drifted badly under Javier Castellano.
"If she wants to go, she’ll get rank in the first part of the race,” Castellano said of Classy Act. “In my opinion, she doesn’t want to go that far. At two turns she gets too rank, and she’s not going to get there."
Eskimo Kisses, who raced last early, rallied on the outside in the stretch under Florent Geroux but was held at bay by a determined winner.
“I was scrubbing the whole way," Geroux said. "They went pretty quick and they came back, but it was too late. I thought I had it at the top of the stretch.”
Wonder Gadot ran evenly to get third, three-quarters of a length behind Eskimo Kisses. Classy Act, She's a Julie, Saguaro Row, and America's Tale completed the order of finish. Chocolate Martini paid $29.80, $10.80, and $3.80, while Eskimo Kisses returned $5.20 and $3.20. Wonder Gadot was worth $2.40.
The final time for the 1 1/16-mile test was 1:44.44 on a fast track.
Chocolate Martini picked up 100 points toward a spot in the 14-horse field for the Kentucky Oaks. She was bred in Kentucky by Savino A. Capilupi out of the multiple stakes-placed Successful Appeal mare Nicksappealinglady, and was a $65,000 purchase at the 2016 Keeneland September yearling sale by Carl Moore Management from Buckland Sales' first draft. She improved her record to three wins and a third from seven starts, with earnings of $278,636.
It was the first graded stakes win for an ownership group with only three wins overall, two of them courtesy of Chocolate Martini.
“You can’t keep these owners away from the Kentucky Oaks,” Amoss said. “As long as she’s healthy, we’re going to run there.”