Plum Pretty All That in Kentucky Oaks

John Fort's Peachtree Stable's Plum Pretty fought off a late charge by St. John's River to win the May 6 Kentucky Oaks (the first jewel in the Filly Triple Crown) to win by a neck. Zazu rallied for third in the 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-old fillies under the Twin Spires of Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

The daughter of Medaglia d'Oro covered the trip in the $1 million race in 1:49.50.

Breaking well from the post 12 slot, Plum Pretty sat just off the early pace that was set by Summer Soiree. Summer Soiree was the leader the first time by the wire and hit the opening quarter mile in :23.65. She was followed by the Oaks winner, Daisy Devine, and Lilacs and Lace. Joyful Victory, the 2-1 favorite in the 13-horse field, broke from the rail and settling into a mid-pack position.

St. John's River, with jockey Rosie Napravnik aboard, took back after breaking outward from Post 13 and angled all the way over the rail and was in last position.

Summer Soiree opened up a clear advantage on the first turn and carried the lead down the backstretch, getting the half in :46.99 and six furlongs in 1:11.25. On the far turn, the leader was inhaled by Plum Pretty who struck the front as the field turned for home. She had the lead at the eighth pole after a mile in 1:36.41 and drove all the way down the stretch, just holding off St. John's River, who rallied down the middle of the track.

Joyful Victory finished fourth, with Bouquet Booth finishing fifth.

The winner came to Churchill Downs off a 15-length win in the March 27 Sunland Oaks in New Mexico. She has now won three of her five starts and run third twice.

Plum Pretty broke her maiden first time out going six furlongs at the Oak Tree at Hollywood Park (located in Inglewood, Calif.) meet Oct. 27, 2010. She didn't surface again until Jan. 15 where she ran third at Santa Anita Park (located in Arcadia, Calif.) in the seven-furlong Santa Ynez Stakes behind California Nectar and Zazu. She shipped to Sunland Park in Sunland Park, N.M., after another third-place finish, this time in the Feb. 5 Las Virgenes Stakes at a mile at Santa Anita.

It's the second win in the last three for stallion Medaglia d'Oro, as he was the sire of 2009 Oaks winner and Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra. It's the second win for trainer Baffert. The Hall of Fame trainer won the Oaks in 1999 with Silverbulletday.

"The last half-hour as been both emotion and most gratifying," said Fort after the race. "To set your sights on something with the limited tools and skills 25 years ago...I took what little knowledge I had with polo and put into racehorses. That was the foundation of what I have now."

There's a lot of mutual respect (with Fort), and anytime you have that, good things can happen," Baffert said.

The Oaks crowd was reported by Churchill Downs to be 110,122, the third largest in Oaks history behind

About the Author

Evan Hammonds

Evan Hammonds is the Executive Editor for The Blood-Horse.

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