If you blinked, you might have missed You on Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs. As soon as the regular break for renovation work was finished about 8:30, she trotted onto the track, jogged down the backstretch, and then blew out three furlongs in :37 3/5 with jockey Joe Deegan in the irons. On her way back to the gap, the daughter of You and I was full off life, dancing on her toes and swinging her body.
"If they outrun her, they are going to have to run their asses off," declared trainer Bobby Frankel, whose filly is the 7-2 third choice on the morning line for the Oaks. "She looked great. I couldn't be any more pleased. She's right on. I'm confident that she's going to run a great race, but to say she's going to win would be a little bold."
You's brief appearance on the track was by design.
" I didn't want any traffic. I didn't want anybody jumping in with her I just wanted her to go off and get it over with," Frankel said.
There were nine three-furlong works at Churchill Wednesday, and You's was the fourth fastest.
You will start from the No. 4 post position in the Oaks. She will be ridden by Jerry Bailey.
"I would think that Take Charge Lady and Imperial Gesture would be laying one-two," Frankel said. "We'll be laying around third. I'm glad we're off the fence because that will give Jerry any option that he wants."
A member of racing's Hall of Fame, Frankel is a veteran of the Oaks. He has won the race twice, first with Keeper Hill in 1998 and then with Flute in 2001. Their paths to Kentucky went through California, where Frankel is based. You followed a similar route in 2002, winning the Las Virgenes Oaks and Santa Anita Oaks. Keeper Hill scored in the Las Virgenes, then finished second in the Santa Anita Oaks. Flute also was second in the Santa Anita Oaks, but she ran in a maiden event instead of the Las Virgenes.
The key to his success in the Kentucky Oaks, according to Frankel, is the long break he gives his fillies between the Santa Anita Oaks, which is run in March, and the Kentucky Oaks.
"It's good to give them that extra break, especially a group like this year's that's all been running since they were two," Frankel said. " I don't like running in the Ashland because I think it is too close (to the Oaks) for almost any filly. If it's a very competitive race, it takes a little of the edge off.'
You was purchased privately by Edmund Gann last year after she won the first two races of her career at Churchill. In her first start for Frankel, she edged Cashier's Dream by a neck in the Adirondack Stakes at Saratoga. She then rolled to a 6 ¼-length victory in the Frizette Stakes at Belmont, before finishing fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and second by a head to Habibti in the Hollywood Starlet Stakes.
"I ran her a little too close from the Frizette to the Breeders' Cup," Frankel said. "I had originally planned to run her in the Matron, but that got cancelled (because of the Sept. 11 crisis). So I had to run her three weeks before the Breeders' Cup in the Frizette, and that probably didn't help her. She also got sick. After the race, she had a temperature.
"She should have won the Starlet," he continued. "If he (Bailey, who was aboard for the first time) had known her better, she could have won. He went to the lead with her right off the bat, and she doesn't like that. She just shut down. But when that other filly (Habibti) came to her and ran by her by a length, she came back and almost beat her."
Of You's efforts this year, Frankel said: "In the Las Virgenes, she was five wide the whole way, and she still won. Her race in the Santa Anita Oaks wasn't as good because she ran back in three weeks, but I got by with it. She needs more time than that."
According to Frankel, You has blossomed during her time at Churchill. On April 24 she worked six furlongs in 1:13 1/5, and her effortless-looking move received high praise from the TVG commentators and others.
"The clockers said it was the best work that they had seen around here in years," Frankel said. "It was a spectacular work. She looked like she was out there for a common canter or a high gallop. She went '13 and one,' but she did it so easy that everyone thought she went in about '16 or 17.' "
How does You compare to Flute and Keeper Hill?
"This is a pretty good filly." Frankel said. "I know she is as good as Keeper Hill, but I don't know if she is as good as Flute. But you know what happens, you tend to give the edge to the filly with the best pedigree. That's why I like Flute.
"All three of them were not real strong fillies. I would say they were moderate strength-wise for fillies. They were all real feminine. But this filly is taller than both of the others. She stands at least 16 (hands), or maybe 16.1."