Pure Fun Returns a Winner in Indiana Oaks
Among her victims was Fiftyshadesofhay, the 1-2 favorite who checked in a close third after a game but taxing journey on the front end. Oscar Party, like Fiftyshadesofhay a California shipper, finished second, 1 3/4 lengths behind Pure Fun.
Trained by Ken McPeek and ridden by Victor Lebron, Pure Fun won last year's Hollywood Starlet Stakes (gr. I) and finished third in this year's Fathead Bourbonette Oaks (gr. III) at Turfway Park. She finished sixth of 10 in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), won by Princess of Sylmar, then was put on the shelf for a while.
McPeek selected the Indiana Oaks for the filly's return, and it worked to her advantage. The pace in the race was quick and contested on a track rated sloppy all day.
Run Forestry Run, a maiden, grabbed the early lead from post 1 as Fiftyshadesofhay and Wild About Irene fanned two- and three-wide to challenge. Those three battled through an opening quarter-mile in :23.61, and it wasn't until they past the half-mile mark in :46.82 that Fiftyshadesofhay was able to secure the lead.
The Bob Baffert trained filly, who won the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II) and finished a distant second to division leader Princess of Sylmar in the Alabama Stakes (gr. I) in her last start in August, opened up a bit through six furlongs in 1:10.78 but met with pressure from the rallying Oscar Party and Pure Fun.
The heavy favorite still led by a head through one mile in 1:36.93 while racing along the rail, but gave in to the sweeping move of Pure Fun and was also passed late by Oscar Party. Pure Fun won by 1 3/4 lengths in 1:43.70 for 1 1/16 miles.
Pure Fun, by Pure Prize out of the Key to the Mint mare Chelsea Green, was bred in Kentucky by Royal Oak Farm. She paid $10.20, $6, and $2.40 across the board as the second choice in the field of seven. Oscar Party returned $8.80 and $4, while Fiftyshadesofhay paid $2.10.
When asked if the early pace worked to his advantage, Lebron said: "Actually, it did. I was able to put her in a good spot, and it worked out pretty good. I know the filly pretty good; I rode her when she broke her maiden."
Pete Edwards of Magdalena Racing said the plan was to "take our time with her" and wait for the right spot. As for a trip to the Breeders' Cup World Championships, Edwards said: "We'll let her tell us that after we regroup."
Pure Fun now has four wins, a second, and two thirds in 12 starts for earnings of $482,652.
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