Kentucky Derby notebook: Long shot takes Kentucky Oaks
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Princess of Sylmar rallied with a huge stretch run to win the $1 million Kentucky Oaks yesterday at Churchill Downs.
One of four fillies trained by Todd Pletcher in the Grade 1 race, the 38-1 long shot upstaged 3-2 favorite Dreaming of Julia. That positioned Pletcher for a weekend sweep today in the Kentucky Derby, where he has a record-tying five entries — including Verrazano.
A slow start cost Dreaming of Julia, who lagged behind before recovering in the stretch to finish fourth. By then, Princess of Sylmar was thrilling a crowd of 113,820 with her third victory in four starts this year.
Starting from the No. 6 post with Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith aboard, Princess of Sylmar ran 11/8 miles in 1:49.17 and paid $79.60, $29.40 and $14.00. Beholder returned $9 and $5.60, and Unlimited Budget, another Pletcher entry, paid $3.80 to show.
Princess of Sylmar gave Pletcher his third Oaks victory and Smith his first.
“I’ve never come close in the Kentucky Oaks and I’ve always wanted to win this race so bad,” Smith said.
“I thank Todd for putting her in.”
Long shot Black Onyx was a late scratch for the Kentucky Derby, leaving 19 horses to vie for the roses. The scratch occurred yesterday after early wagering for the race was opened, so Black Onyx’s No. 1 post position will be left empty today. The remaining horses will stay in their original starting positions.
Trainer Kelly Breen gave no immediate explanation for Black Onyx’s scratch. It leaves jockey Joe Bravo without a Derby mount.