The 36th running of the Grade I La Troienne marks an important part of the Kentucky Oaks undercard for older female horses. Historically, some powerful members of this class have scored some major victories, including last year’s victor, Monomoy Girl. Before that, others etched their names into the record books like Ginger Punch, Blind Luck, Authenticity, Curalina, and She’s a Julie. Who will join these celebrated ranks this year?
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Here is a filly who is facing some older company, as she tries to take a step forward into deep ranks. Last out in the Azeri (G2) at Oaklawn Park she was up against Shedaresthedevil #2 (who is drawn in here), and Letruska, the winner of the titanic Apple Blossom (G1). She is not going to get much relief, but if you had to entrust her conditioning to anyone, you would want Kenny McPeek in your corner. She may not be quick enough out of the gate to keep up. If she can, she has a shot.
#2 Shedaresthedevil (Jky: F. Geroux/Trn: B. Cox):
The KYO Champ from last year, followed up that signature win with a 3rd place finish in the Spinster (G1) at Keeneland in October. Though this Daredevil filly failed to live up to her short price, she rebounded nicely in her 4-yr-old debut at Oaklawn Park in the Azeri (G2). That was an incredible ride by jockey Florent Geroux to beating Letruska to the lead. It ended up winning the day. If she can stave off any “earlies,” then she could have a major victory on her hands. Returning to Churchill, the scene of last September’s Oaks victory must be a comfort for Cox. He knows this course like the back of his hand. Major chance to win this one, for sure.
#3 Dunbar Road (Jky: I. Ortiz/Trn: C. Brown):
Owner Peter Brandt does not invest in duds, and he knows whom to entrust with his very best stock. Chad Brown deserves that honor, after building an impressive career. This daughter of Quality Road has quite a class resume tacked on to her PPs. She has competed in some of the most important races for older females that exist in North America. Though she missed back in the fall at Belmont and at Keeneland during the Breeders’ Cup, one defense was forced to face-off against Monomoy Girl in the latter. Now ready for her 5-yr-old debut, she is getting the more accomplished Ortiz Bro—Irad. She will not end up being the favorite, and that is probably just fine with Brown.
#4 Bajan Girl (Jky: L. Saez/Trn: R. Crichton):
Florida-based trainer Rohan Crichton is hoping to make a splash with his long shot, a filly out of Speightstown. She moved up the class conveyor belt with a couple wins at old Gulfstream Park West, aka Calder Racecourse back before the place summarily closed in November. Tries at big boy club Gulfstream Park in the Rampart (G3) and the Royal Delta (G3) yielded some nice 3rd place scores for the Slack-Walters ownership clan. This is a sleeper pick that most will overlook on their exotic tickets. The main reason not to sleep on this “Girl” is the fact that Luis Saez gets the mount. Even though he has never ridden her, he has the ability to work out trips when you least expect it. Major “wise girl” here, if there ever was one.
#5 Paris Lights (Jky: Tyler Gaffalione/Trn: B. Mott):
If this field wasn’t salty enough for you, then it just made you thirsty one over. Bill Mott sends this daughter of Curlin into Churchill, where she has had much success. Last May and June, this filly won a pair of races at the MSW and ALLW level, respectively. She capped the hot COVID-19 summer off with a nice score at the fanless Saratoga in mid-July. Those 3 wins added 1 more when the HOF conditioner prepped her in the early April running of the Distaff Handicap (G3) at Aqueduct. This Winstar homebred is a star, and she has major ability to win this race. Will it be easy? Probably not . . . but if she is sharp, then jock Tyler Gaffalione has a chance to get home ahead of everyone else.
#6 Sanenus (Jky: J. Castellano/Trn: M. McCarthy):
Trainer Mike McCarthy took this Chilean import on and brought her along last year at Del Mar and then at Churchill. Those were solid efforts, and the last in the Chilukki (G3) resulted in a 2nd place to gatemate Finite #7. McCarthy, ever the SoCal opportunist, saw her score a victory, her only stateside, in the La Canada (G3) at Santa Anita. After some rest, she came East. The plan called for a go in the Madison (G1) at Keeneland. Even though she finished 4th, it was exactly what she needed to prepare for entry on the Oaks undercard. Don’t underestimate McCarthy’s drive and determination because he finds ways to win when you least expect it. Having Javier Castellano back on board is a major win already for these connections. McCarthy’s national rise to prominence continues.
#7 Finite (Jky: R. Santana/Trn: S. Asmussen):
Team Winchell? Steve Asmussen? Ricardo Santana? . . . add in a Munnings filly with major talent? Yes, please . . . These connections did not see much from her when it came to the 2021 debut for their 4-yr-old filly, but that was against Monomoy Girl in the Bayakoa (G3) at Oaklawn. Not much when it comes to a fair fight . . . Now, coming to Churchill, a track where she is 3/3, the homefield advantage turns. If Santana can get her free at the top of the lane, she can do some real open field running that could allow her to sweep down the lane and be best. It will not be a simple chore against this lot, but if anyone can have her ready, it is Steve Asmussen.
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