Abel Tasman went from worst to first in the 143d Longines Kentucky Oaks to register Bob Baffert's third win of the race.
Paradise Woods, who was fractious in the gate, dueled with Miss Sky Warrior through an opening quarter-mile in 22.79, a half-mile in 46.24 and six furlongs in 1:11.41, followed closely by Farrell. Farrell started backing out of the race into the far turn, and Paradise Woods retreated as well. Miss Sky Warrior's resulting lead was short-lived as a cavalry charge of fillies enveloped her.
Abel Tasman and Mike Smith rallied through the far turn and went wide into the stretch on track rated sloppy to win the 1 1/8-mile race in 1:51.62. Running in second and third were 12-1 shot Daddys Lil Darling and 36-1 shot Lockdown. They were followed by Vexatious, Salty, Sailor's Valentine, Tequilita, Miss Sky Warrior, Ever So Clever, Mopotism, Paradise Woods, Jordan's Henny, Wicked Lick and Farrell..
Abel Tasman returned $20.40, $9.20, and $6.40 on $2 win, place and show tickets.
Baffert's previous Oaks wins came in 2011 with Plum Pretty and 1999 with Silverbulletday. Smith won in 2013 with Princess of Sylmar.
Bob Baffert: "It never gets old. Especially when you can sneak in there with a horse that's not one of the favorites."
Ken McPeek, trainer of Daddy's Lil Darling: "I like winning. I've been second in the Oaks before, second in the Derby. She ran good but I really, really wanted to win. I thought we had a big chance. Bob is the luckiest guy on the planet."
Juddmonte Farms manager Garrett O'Rourke, Lockdown: "It was just excitement. I think all of our brains were coming out of our mouths at that stage. She ran her heart out. I thought we were in here with a shot, to be honest, and I thought she gave every last ounce that she had. I have tremendous admiration for the effort she put out and she proved she is a legitimate grade 1 horse."
Richard Mandella, trainer of 6-5 favorite Paradise Woods: "It was a hot pace, the one laying on her was laying on her pretty hard. But she didn't look herself. She didn't have that pretty stride that she had last time. Maybe the slop threw her a curve or maybe she ran so hard last time it left her a little empty. That happens. You couldn't tell it looking at her but it does happen."
Mike Smith, rider of Abel Tasman (1st) -- “Immediately after her second-place finish in the Santa Anita Oaks, we both realized she probably needed a slight blinker. She broke OK that day, but was not a 100 percent focused. She'd run for a sixteenth of a mile and then lose focus. The blinkers kept her from doing that today. I hit the front a little sooner than I wanted and I was afraid she'd pull herself up, but she stayed focused and galloped out even better. If you surround yourself with good people, good things happen. It's just like your mom always told you. I surround myself with Bob Baffert and other great trainers and owners and this is the outcome."
Julien Leparoux, rider of Daddys Lil Darling (2nd) – “I wanted a wait a little bit to get inside. She ran a big race.”
Jose Ortiz, rider of Lockdown (3rd) -- “I had a good position going into the first turn. I was just looking for a way to get to the rail since it’s been so good today. She gave me a good run.”
Kent Desormeaux, rider of Vexatious (4th) – “I got excited at the three-eighths pole. She really took off when I peeled her out from behind horses. She enjoyed the going, she gave it her best. I am hoping as she matures, she will get stronger and faster.”
Joel Rosario, rider of Salty (5th) – “She liked the track and ran well. We took a chance to go along the inside and got stopped a little a couple of times. She was running in the end. It was just a different track today. The winner was much the best. If I didn’t get stopped on the turn and turning for home, we could have run better but that’s how it goes sometimes.”
Corey Lanerie, rider of Sailor’s Valentine (6th) – “It was a perfect trip, sitting right behind the speed. She was moving very well over this track even though it was in the slop. I got excited turning for home but she just got tired late.”
Luis Saez, rider of Tequilita (7th) – “My filly was in a great spot. I ask for her run and she responded but the other fillies ran faster.”
Paco Lopez, rider of Miss Sky Warrior, (8th) – “We were right there second but when I asked my filly she didn’t like the mud.”
Luis Contreras, rider of Ever So Clever (9th) – “Perfect trip, no excuse. She just didn’t kick like last time.”
Mario Gutierrez, rider of Mopotism (10th) – “She broke OK but I didn’t think she liked the track very much.”
Flavien Prat, rider of Paradise Woods (11th) – “She didn’t break super sharp. She just wasn’t herself today. She never ran on a sloppy track before and she didn’t run good today so maybe that had something to do with it.”
Joe Rocco Jr., rider of Jordan’s Henny (12th) – “We really had a good trip. We sat behind the speed and she was still on the bit going into the second turn. I really got excited going for home because I thought we had a chance but she just flattened out.”
Brian Hernandez Jr., rider of Wicked Lick (13th) – “The way she warmed up, I thought she would run a good race. We took a lot of dirt, and that discouraged her a bit. It just wasn’t her day.”
Channing Hill, rider of Farrell (14th) – “It was disappointing. I didn’t think it (the sloppy conditions) would bother her but obviously it did. You never know with this game but that’s why you have to run them. She did everything else good but like the track.”