GRADE 3 BOURBONETTE OAKS AT TURFWAY PARK COMES UP FULL
FLORENCE, Ky. (March 23, 2017) – The Grade 3 $100,000 Bourbonette Oaks has come up full for Saturday’s 35th running at Turfway Park. For 3-year-old fillies going a mile, the Bourbonette is the filly counterpart to the JACK Cincinnati Casino Spiral Stakes and a designated points race for the Kentucky Oaks (G1).
No one in the Bourbonette field has more racing experience than Katherine G. Ball’s China Grove, the 3-1 morning line favorite. The daughter of City Zip has made nine starts in her career, which include a maiden win at first asking over the Keeneland main track, a second in the one-mile Rags to Riches Stakes at Churchill Downs in November and a win in Laurel Park’s Wide Country Stakes Feb. 18, her first start this year.
“I think she has a little more consistency, having run many more times,” said trainer Ben Colebrook. “She trains well on the Poly so I think she’ll handle it okay. Her better races have been around one turn but I don’t think distance is an issue. The last race was a really good race, coming after a long layoff. She’s been pretty versatile and she’s been a consistent filly so we’ll see if we can get some graded black type.”
Her last-out victory, the Wide Country Stakes, was China Grove’s first stakes triumph, but Colebrook noted that the filly did not always have the best of luck as a 2-year-old stakes contender.
“It’s good to see her get right on track,” Colebrook said. “Getting that stakes win is very important. It gave us some options to better pick out our spots. It was huge. We had some bad luck last year. She stumbled at the start of the Astoria [at Belmont Park] and then we took her to Saratoga to sprint her on the grass there and [Lull] fell down right in front of her. [Jockey] Jose Ortiz said he thought she should win that day.”
Based at Keeneland, China Grove will ship to Turfway Park Saturday. She breaks from post five under jockey Julien Leparoux.
The Bourbonette Oaks will be Delphinia’s first attempt at two turns, but she won her most recent outing, Turfway’s 6 1/2-furlong Cincinnati Trophy, by seven easy lengths, and Jason Barkley, assistant to trainer Wesley Ward, expects a good performance Saturday. He points to her two most recent works, both at Turfway: five furlongs in 1:00.40 on March 18 and the same distance in a bullet 1:00.60 on March 7. Also in her favor is the return of jockey Julio Garcia, who was aboard for the Trophy win.
“Her last two breezes were really nice,” Barkley said. “Julio’s been on her for both, and he rides her really well. She’s just really easy to get along with. He knows her well and she likes the surface, and I think as long as she gets the mile distance she should be fine. She broke her maiden at five-eighths at Gulfstream on the grass with Johnny V[elazquez]. She was really push-button there and he just kind of held her together. When he asked her she had plenty to give, and she won the Trophy by seven, so there was plenty left. There’s not a whole lot of speed in the [Bourbonette], so she could end up on the front end, which I think is fine. Hopefully she’ll be in a position to win.”
Co-second choice with Darkwingsoverdubai at 7-2, Delphinia breaks from post six.
Miss O’Hara represents the barn of George “Rusty” Arnold II and will break from post 12. She came out of the Fillies Division of the OBS Championship Stakes on Jan. 24 a well-beaten fourth, but Arnold drew a line through the result and focused instead on her trip over the Ocala Training Center’s synthetic surface and two recent bullet works at Payson Park.
“We have liked this filly all along,” Arnold said. “We took her to Ocala to see if she would run well on Poly, and she did. I’m not sure if it says this in the past performances but she got eliminated out of the starting gate, which pretty much took her out of the race. We decided she’s been working real well. I’m disappointed in the post draw but that’s what we drew.”
Angel Cruz has the mount on Miss O’Hara.
Trainer Kenny McPeek has two in the Bourbonette: Awesome Boss in post nine and Purely a Dream next door in post 10.
“Awesome Boss is coming in to the race really well,” said McPeek from Dubai, where he will saddle Vettori Kin (BRZ) in the UAE Derby. “She’s coming off a really impressive maiden win.”
That maiden special win came March 2 in a 7 1/2-length romp at Oaklawn Park, but she had knocked on the door in her two previous races, a length loss on the dirt at Churchill in November and a head loss in the mud at Oaklawn Jan. 19 after stumbling at the start. All of her starts except her debut in July have been a mile or longer. The Bourbonette will be her first start on Polytrack.
Purely a Dream did not fare well in her most recent start, finishing well off the board in an optional allowance at Churchill in late November, and the Bourbonette will be her first start since then. Two races back she showed great heart in winning a mile turf race at Keeneland, however, and she was a good second in her debut on the dirt at seven furlongs, also at Keeneland. McPeek cited her recent strong works in his decision to enter the Bourbonette, including a bullet four furlong breeze in :49 flat on the Keeneland training track March 4 and a best-of-nine :47.40 at the same distance on the Keeneland main track Monday.
Both fillies will ship to Turfway from Keeneland on race day. Channing Hill rides Awesome Boss. Robby Albarado has the mount on Purely a Dream.
The Bourbonette will be just the third start for Gilded Lily, but she is undefeated and comes in to Saturday off a 2 3/4-length win at the Bourbonette distance. Both races—a maiden special and an optional allowance—came at Turfway, and she trains at Turfway as well.
“It’s a step up for her but she’s earned the right,” said trainer Mike Maker.
Graded stakes-placed Fun was third in an optional allowance over the Gulfstream Park turf last out but has had plenty of graded stakes experience under the care of trainer Ian Wilkes. As a 2-year-old, the Dennis Farkas-owned daughter of Harlan’s Holiday was third behind Dancing Rags in Keeneland’s Darley Alcibiades (G1) and second to Sweet Loretta in the Schuylerville (G3) at Saratoga at odds of 22-1.
“She’s training very well,” said Wilkes, who has named his son-in-law Chris Landeros to ride. Fun is 10-1 on the morning line and breaks from post seven.
The Bourbonette Oaks is the ninth race on Saturday’s card, with a 5:09 p.m. ET post.