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Kentucky Oaks 135 Tuesday Update - Lukas Enters Third Filly in Oaks

| Churchill Downs Communications | 04/28/2009 #

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BE FAIR / STONE LEGACY / TWEETER – Marylou Whitney Stables' Stone Legacy was entered for Kentucky Oaks 135 by trainer D. Wayne Lukas on Tuesday morning. The decision gave Lukas three fillies in the Oaks, a race he has won four times.

Stone Legacy, who galloped Tuesday morning, will be ridden for the first time by Kent Desormeaux and break from post position three.

Westrock Stables' Be Fair galloped on her first day back on the track after working five furlongs on Sunday in 1:00.20 under exercise rider Omar Golon.

Be Fair will break from post position two under Rafael Bejarano

Marylou Whitney Stables' Tweeter walked the shedrow a day after breezing down the lane. Miguel Mena, who rode Tweeter to her maiden-breaking victory on April 3 at Keeneland, has the Oaks mount and will break from post position one.

When asked why the eight-horse field is smaller this year than in recent renewals, Lukas replied, “Two words: Rachel Alexandra. I think she's the strongest favorite since Winning Colors' year if she had raced in the Oaks.”

Winning Colors, trained by Lukas, won the Derby in 1988 becoming only the third, and most recent, filly to win the Run for the Roses.

Asked why he's running if he thinks Rachel Alexandra is such a strong favorite Lukas replied, “If you could guarantee me second place right now I'd be a happy man.”

FLYING SPUR – Like her Kentucky Derby-bound stablemate Hold Me Back, Flying Spur was not content to walk the shedrow the morning after her final breeze. Trainer Bill Mott said the filly wanted a little more action Tuesday after working four furlongs in :48.40 and was sent to the track to jog.

“She’s ready to go,” Mott said.

The Hall of Fame trainer smiled as he said there was another reason why his filly was out on the racing surface.

“We wanted to see if that track was still hot where Rachel Alexandra had been over it,” he said. “We were going to try and feel it out and see if the smoke had settled yet.”

Rachel Alexandra, who will be the heavy favorite in the Oaks, turned in a blistering four-furlong workout in :46.40 on Monday morning.

Mott was asked what he found.

“It was still a little warm,” he said.

Flying Spur will break from post position eight under Garrett Gomez.

GABBY’S GOLDEN GAL – Trainer Bob Baffert concedes that Arnold Zetcher’s homebred filly Gabby’s Golden Gal faces a tough assignment Friday in the Kentucky Oaks. The daughter of  Medaglia d’Oro earned her trip to Churchill Downs with a 13-length victory in the Sunland Oaks on March 29.

“It’s a big step up for her, but the way she ran at Sunland Park, we felt that she deserved a shot at the big event,” Baffert said. “She’s trained well. She looks fantastic. I think she showed that day that she excelled on two turns. When she turned for home she just turned it on. When she came back she wasn’t tired, wasn’t blowing hard.”

Baffert paused to make a point.

“This is a totally different field,” he said.

The star is Rachel Alexandra, who is on a four-race winning streak.

“This little filly (Gabby’s Golden Gal) is not very big, but she’s very aggressive,” Baffert said. “She’s going to want to be near the lead. I just hope she and Rachel don’t hook up and cook each other. She’s free-running, so she’ll be up on the pace.”

Gabby’s Golden Gal galloped Tuesday morning. Victor Espinoza has the mount Friday and will exit post position four.

JUSTWHISTLEDIXIE – Prompted by threatening skies at Churchill Downs on Tuesday morning, the connections of Justwhistledixie decided to take her to the track a little earlier than planned for a 1 1/2-mile gallop under exercise rider Danny Wright.

“We went great. She went right on with her business,” said Neal McLaughlin, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin’s assistant and brother. “She’s ready to go.”

Justwhistledixie with break from post position five.

Justwhistledixie, who captured the Bonnie Miss (Grade II) at Gulfstream Park in her most recent start, will be seeking her sixth straight victory in the Kentucky Oaks. Her Bonnie Miss victory under jockey Julien Leparoux was the daughter of Dixie Union’s first trip around two turns.

“We’ve always felt that a mile and an eighth would be no problem. Her running style helps, because she stalks the pace,” McLaughlin said. “There was an abundance of speed in the race in Florida. One filly got loose on the lead, which made us move a little earlier than we wanted. When that filly opened up, Julien decided to go and not let her get away. She got even with that filly, then pulled away.”

McLaughlin expects the pace to be solid in the Oaks, and he also expects morning-line favorite Rachel Alexandra to be doubly tough after watching her spectacular workout on Monday morning.

“She’s an amazing filly. You hear a lot about fillies taking on the boys in the Derby. This filly is probably that caliber,” he said. “We’re going to have our work cut out for us, but if we have our best day and she doesn’t, who knows? If we both have our best days, we might be in trouble. But we’ve won five in a row, so we’re happy with her.”

NAN – J. Paul Reddam's Nan galloped a mile and a quarter before the renovation break under exercise rider Jose Castanon.

“She's doing good,” Aimee Dollase said. Aimee is the sister and assistant to trainer Craig Dollase. “Now all we need is some luck,” she added.

Corey Nakatani, a two-time Oaks winner, has the mount on Nan, who will break from post position seven.

RACHEL ALEXANDRA – Hal Wiggins was standing at the gap by the clockers’ stand early Tuesday morning and trainer D. Wayne Lukas rode up on his pony.

“Hey Hal, your filly got a ‘2’ on the ‘Rag’ sheet yesterday,” Lukas said, referring to the :46.40 half-mile work put in by Wiggins’ Rachel Alexandra on Monday.

“But I didn’t get a dollar for it,” Wiggins said with a laugh. “She’s got to do it in the afternoon.”

Rachel Alexandra spent the morning out of the intermittent showers and walked the shedrow.

“Everything looks good,” Wiggins said of the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro, who will break from post position six. “She got a little tired and I may walk her again tomorrow.”

Owned by L and M Partners, Rachel Alexandra enters Kentucky Oaks 135 on a four-race win streak with Calvin Borel having been aboard for all triumphs. One of those victories came in the slop at Fair Grounds on March 14 in the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks in which Rachel Alexandra won by 1 3/4 lengths while being eased up in the final sixteenth.

“It rained all day there that day; it never stopped,” Wiggins said. “They kept the track in good shape and stayed on top of it. It wasn’t a deep slop that day.”

So, any concerns about an “off” track here Friday?

“I don’t think she has ever worked on an ‘off’ track here,” Wiggins said, “But I don’t think it will affect her.”