Stellar Wind leads strong field in $1 million Kentucky Oaks
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Stellar Wind will be looking for a fourth straight victory when the 7-2 favorite takes on 13 rivals in Friday's $1 million Kentucky Oaks, the top 3-year-old race for fillies run the day before the Kentucky Derby.
The filly trained by John Sadler has won both starts this year by a combined eight lengths and will be ridden by Victor Espinoza, who will be aboard favorite American Pharoah in the Derby. Stellar Wind won the Santa Anita Oaks in her last start.
The field is a tough one that includes Condo Commando, who has won five of six starts, and I'm a Chatterbox, unbeaten in three starts this year. They are co-second choices at 4-1.
Lovely Maria is 5-1 with two wins in three starts, including the Ashland on April 4.
Post time for the 1 1/8-mile Oaks in 5:49 p.m. ET.
The field features six Grade 1 race winners. But recent workouts at Churchill Downs have convinced Sadler that his filly is eager for the big race.
''She's been working really nicely,'' said Sadler, whose horse will start from the No. 12 post position. ''Just the way she does it, she travels easily and she's working nicely and doesn't get tired or anything like that. We feel she's ready to go.''
Trainer Larry Jones seeks his third Oaks victory with I'm a Chatterbox and Lovely Maria.
I'm a Chatterbox has rolled this year at Fair Grounds in New Orleans, winning all three starts by a 13 combined lengths.
Lovely Maria's Ashland win followed her runner-up finish to I'm a Chatterbox in the Rachel Alexandra in February. In seven starts, she has three wins and three seconds, all with Kerwin Clark aboard.
Condo Command has also won in dominating fashion, earning three wins by double-digit margins. Condo Commando is 2 for 2 this year at Aqueduct, where jockey Joel Rosario guided her to a 2 1/4-length victory in the Gazelle nearly four weeks ago.
''We knew she could run,'' said co-owner Michael Dubb, who put Condo Commando in a $75,000 claiming race she eventually won by 12 lengths.
''We hadn't really asked her to do all that much. Being (sired) by Tiz Wonderful, it's not a question of we thought we could get away with it. We didn't. We really just thought we were doing the right thing by the horse, not knowing how good she was.
''Once she ran like that we were (like) `Oh, my God, what do we have here?' ''