Another Thunder Bolt in Australasian Oaks

Thunder was more than an accompaniment as lightning struck twice in the same place when Tully Thunder won the Australasian Oaks (Aust-I) in Adelaide on May 4. Ridden flawlessly by Damien Oliver, the Thunder Gulch daughter won the 2,000 meters classic by three-quarters of a length from She's Archie.

Arboretum (by Woodman) was two lengths away in third. The Archway filly had appeared certain to run past Tully Thunder in the final 150 meters, but the 9-4 favorite rallied to win decisively at the wire in 2:03.39.

Thunder Gulch supplied the 2001winner of this Oaks in Tempest Morn on the weekend his Point Given was all the rage for the 127th Kentucky Derby (gr. I), a race in which he inexplicably finished down the track before recovering his poise to collect the Preakness (gr. I) and Belmont Stakes (gr. I). Tempest Morn is from his first southern crop.

Lighting didn't actually strike in the exactly the same place as this edition was held at Victoria Park, across town from its usual place of residence at Morphettville. The 'Australasian' Oaks title is actually a misnomer. It doesn't really purport to represent Australian and New Zealand combined. The race carries a purse of $250,000 (Australian funds) -- about a third of that put up for the Australian Oaks at Randwick.

In 1982, before number-crunchers hit upon the idea of subsidizing mediocrity by putting on rich races for graduates of certain yearling sales, South Australia's shorter Oaks race was started as a headline race at a one-off meeting to boost the Adelaide yearling sales. The real South Australian Oaks (Aust-I) will be run over 2,400 meters of Morphettville on May 18. Tully Thunder will be a heavy favorite, unless sidetracked in the meantime with a shot at the males in the South Australian Derby (Aust-I) on May 11.

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