This is a fun first for me – doing a preview for the Club for a stakes race. The race is the $50,000 Northbound Pride Oaks at one mile over the turf. Alonso Quinonez will ride and we’re breaking from the middle of the field.
We’re not considered by anyone to be a threat, nor is much expected from our girl as she heads postward in the third tonight. While we most likely won’t be 46-1, we certainly will be considered an outsider. That’s okay.
Here is a look at the seven horse field.
Ask Bailey (Maker/?) – A new rider will be named today as Florent Geroux has tested positive for COVID-19 and will not make the trip from Kentucky. She’s only run over the turf and is graded stakes placed at two. She’s been training very well up to this, her first start of 2020. An improvement over her best 2019 numbers and she could dust this field. She’ll be running hard late.
Defend the Rose (Robertson/Chirinos) – One of several in here making their firsst effort over the turf. Coming in after a gate to wire win in the Frances Genter Stakes. Early speed is her forte.
Urban Fairytale (Wilkes/Canchari) – Solid Gulfstream Park maiden breaker for the Minnesota owned filly. The win was at a mile over the turf and she sat off the pace before fighting hard to hold on for the win. Gutsy and talented, she hasn’t raced since that race on March 29th but has been working consistently in Kentucky.
Delia O’Hara (Davis/Butler) – First time over the turf after a very impressive maiden breaking sprint in her first local start. She had been coming from off the pace in the Southwest as a 2-year old but was right up on the lead in the win.
Machos Vision (Biehler/Biehler) – A stakes winner on the dirt at two at this distance in Oklahoma. Gave the turf a go here last out where she tired a bit pushing the pace against a very good field led by multiple stakes winner Some Say So (who won), a race that is better than the running line suggests. Mom, Machorina, was a multiple turf winner at Canterbury and finished 4th in this very race in 2010.
Smart N Wicked (Jose L Silva/Velazquez) – First try over the turf after a winning effort – close to the pace – last out here in a $12,500 optional claiming race. She was stakes placed at 2 at Zia Park and she’ll also be stretching out for the first time.
If there is one thing we should have learned from Lilly’s last out is that we can never say never.
First, the issues:
- Obviously this is quite a step up. For several in here though, we’re ALL making the same jump up in class.
- Again, like several others, we’re stretching out after sprinting.
- We’re a front runner, again, like many in here.
The above issues aren’t a secret, they’re obvious. However, we don’t know how the others will handle the jump in class, the stretch out or how the pace will develop.
It would seem that it will be very hard to win this thing gate to wire given the amount of early speed, but how will some of the other speedsters handle the turf? The turf course has been relatively kind of front runners and with little rain yesterday and none forecasted for today, speed may still carry. Will we try and steal this on the front end? I don’t know, but I think it will be hard to get in front and control the pace with the amount of pace pressure that should be there.
Can Lil perhaps rate a little? We have no idea. Her dirt PPs were so bad it is hard to tell if she can rate or not. It could be risky to try it in this spot in case it’s not in her wheelhouse.
Stretching out may be an issue for her, sure, but she should be able to carry her speed further on this turf course. Given more time, Nevada could have trained her differently to prep for the distance changed, but we didn’t have than. That said, she came out the last race wonderfully. She was not emptied out in that start and hopefully has gas still in the tank.
Alsonso knows Lil. He’ll play the cards he’s going to be dealt at the break and we’ll see where it takes us. The intangibles are on our side: she’s tough, she’s aggressive and she has heart – all things that can’t be trained.
It’s a unique situation we’re in here, so enjoy the day, the build up and the experience. We may not get here again!
GOOD LUCK EVERYBODY!!