Wednesday, July 06, 2011

St. John’s River tops Delaware Oaks

Stanton, Del., July 5, 2011 — Dede McGehee’s St. John’s River tops a field of seven entered in the $300,000 Grade II Delaware Oaks at Delaware Park this Saturday. Last year, Blind Luck won the mile-and-a-sixteenth test as part of her 3-year-old champion filly campaign. In 2008, Proud Spell won the Oaks before winning the year-end award for outstanding 3-year-old filly.

While St. John’s River has not won a stake in her five career outings, the daughter of Include still brings impressive credentials into the Delaware Oaks. In her most recent, the Kentucky-bred conditioned by Andrew Leggio Jr. finished second, beaten a neck in the mile-and-an-eighth Grade I Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 6. In the Kentucky Oaks, she finished in front of Zazu (third), who followed with a victory in the Grade II Hollywood Oaks. Previously, St. John’s River finished second, beaten a half length in the mile-and-a-sixteenth Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks on March 26. Her lone career victory came on January 21 when she notched a 4-length triumph in a mile-and-70-yard maiden at the Fair Grounds. She has career earnings of $320,070.

The top local connection in the Delaware Oaks is David Cottle and Smart Angle’s All for Thee. In her latest, the Kentucky-bred conditioned by Anthony Dutrow posted a two-length triumph in the mile-and-70-yard $75,000 Go For Wand Stakes at Delaware Park on June 4. Previously, the daughter of Elusive Quality notched a four-length score in a mile-and-70-yard Delaware Park allowance on May 7. On March 27, she broke her maiden at Oaklawn Park by 6½-lengths in a one-mile maiden. She sports a career record of three wins from four starts with earnings of $95,400.

Past notable winners of the Delaware Oaks include Vagrancy (1942), Gallorette (1945), Miss Request (1948), Next Move (1950), Kiss Me Kate (1951), Parlo (1954), Bayou (1957), Primonetta (1961), Lady Pitt (1966), Dark Mirage (1968), Gallant Bloom (1969), Desert Vixen (1973), Proud Spell (2008), and Blind Luck (2010).

Since the Delaware Oaks was reinstituted as part of the Delaware Park stakes schedule in 1996, five fillies, including the last three, have won the Delaware Oaks and followed with a victory in the Alabama Stakes. They are Blind Luck (2010), Careless Jewel (2009), Proud Spell (2008), Island Fashion (2003) and Runup the Colors (1997). Both Blind Luck and Proud Spell won the year-end Eclipse Award for 3-year-old fillies.

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