Princess of Sylmar, the second-longest shot in the field at nearly 39-1, closed stoutly under Mike Smith to get up by half-length and earn a prize of $589,000. She increased her bankroll to $827,220 off a record of five wins and a second in seven starts.
“When she was able to drop back and make a run,” Pletcher said, “she was able to fire her best shot. We thought she might have a chance if they gave her some pace and they did.”
Dreaming of Julia, the 3-2 race favorite, had an unfortunate trip, including a solid bump and squeeze at the start, and closed ground late to be beaten less than three lengths.
“She had to deal with that incident at the start, then she had to take up on the turn and it was just too much,” Pletcher said. “She might have been able to overcome one of those things, but the two of them virtually eliminated her. I thought she was gutsy to run as well as she did.”
Pletcher said the four fillies would head up to his New York barn “either Sunday or Monday.” He said he had no special plans for any of them at the moment.
BEHOLDER – “She’s a little tired, but she appears to be fine.”
That was the report from trainer Richard Mandella Saturday morning at Barn 45 where Kentucky Oaks (GI) runner-up Beholder rested quietly in her stall.
The 2-year-old filly champion had raced well in the nine-furlong Oaks Friday, even holding the lead by two lengths at one point in the stretch. But the longshot Princess of Sylmar wore her down late and tallied by a half-length. Beholder earned a check for $190,000 for her efforts, pushing her bankroll to $1,765,000 on a record that shows five wins and three seconds in nine starts.
Mandella said there was a flight lined up for a return trip to California for the filly Sunday afternoon. He also was going to have his good mare Rumor, the morning-line favorite for today’s Humana Distaff (GI), on the same plane. The trainer and his wife, Randi, who have been in Kentucky all week, have a flight back west Sunday evening.
“I won’t run her back quickly,” the trainer said of Beholder. “She’ll get a little time. After a while, we’ll look around and see what’s next.”
MIDNIGHT LUCKY – Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman’s Midnight Lucky came out of her fifth-place finish in Friday’s Oaks in good shape according to Jim Barnes, assistant to trainer Bob Baffert.
“She’s good. She’s fine. A little tired,” Barnes said.
PURE FUN – Magdalena Racing’s Pure Fun was nearly 15 lengths off the pace after the opening half-mile of the Kentucky Oaks. She put in a big run to get back into contact with the rest of the field but could not sustain it from there, finishing sixth.
“From the three-eighths pole to the quarter pole I thought we were going to give a good rally but just kind of stayed one-paced down the lane.” assistant trainer Phil Bauer said Saturday morning. “We can’t be disappointed with her, though, because she tried.
“She ate up last night and seemed to come out of the race OK. Five out of the top six finishers were Grade I winners so I guess there’s no shame in finishing the way she did.”
Bauer said trainer Ken McPeek had no specific races on the radar for Pure Fun.
“We’ll just regroup,” he said. “She’s had three races in a short period of time so I think we need to let her rebound out of this race before we consider anything else.”
CLOSE HATCHES – Juddmonte Farms LLC’s Close Hatches came back in good order the morning after her seventh-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks, according to assistant trainer Kenny McCarthy.
“She’s fine this morning,” McCarthy said. “She jogged good this morning and everything so we’ll just have to do battle another day.”
Trainer Bill Mott was already in New York, where he has a string at Belmont Park.
McCarthy said there was no obvious explanation for the disappointing effort by previously undefeated Close Hatches. However, he echoed his boss’ postrace sentiment that perhaps she did not respond well to be taken far off the pace for the first time since her debut.
“It was a bit of a head-scratcher,” McCarthy said. “Maybe all the talk about how much speed was in there got to the rider.”
ROSE TO GOLD – Kathleen Amaya and Raffaele Centofanti’s Rose to Gold, who finished eighth in Friday’s Oaks, came out of the race in good shape according to trainer Sal Santoro.
“She’s fine. She cleaned up her feed last night and came out of race all right,” Santoro said. “She whacked herself behind the right front ankle and that might have happened at the break.
“I feel bad about that because it might have momentarily knocked Dreaming of Julia off stride a bit and might have compromised her chances. I feel a little guilty about that.
“I just wanted her to run and run good. She had a wide trip, but all in all I am pleased with her. I would have liked a better finish, but she ran her race and has no excuses. Those were great fillies. I am not disappointed in her at all.”
Santoro planned to ship Rose to Gold to Ocala in the next few days for a month of R and R before bringing her back to his home base at Calder.
“When she comes back to Calder, I will put her in light training and pick out a race for her,” Santoro said. “The pressure is off now and I have wanted to try her on turf and I think I am going to.”
SEANEEN GIRL – Naveed Chowhan’s Seaneen Girl, who finished ninth in the Kentucky Oaks on Friday, came out of the race in good order, Gary Borgemenke, assistant to trainer Bernie Flint, said Saturday morning.
“A longshot won,’’ Borgemenke said. “It was the wrong one. She came back good.’’
Seaneen Girl, who went off at 30-1, finished 14 ½ lengths behind winner Princess of Sylmar, a 38-1 shot.
“It just wasn’t her day,’’ Borgemenke said.