By Dick Downey
Trainer Larry Jones and owner Brereton Jones struck again in the 141st running of the Kentucky Oaks with Lovely Maria, ridden by Kerwin Clark.
Just four weeks ago, Clark won his first grade I race when Lovely Maria took the Ashland Stakes, run on dirt at Keeneland for the first time since 2006. It was the third time in the last eight runnings of the race that trainer and owner Jones have teamed to win. They took the Kentucky Oaks with Believe You Can in 2012 and Proud Spell in 2008.
Shook Up got up in the stretch to finish second after stalking in third or fourth while saving ground, beaten 2 3/4 lengths. I'm a Chatterbox, also trained by Jones, made a late bid to finish third. Stellar Wind, the post time favorite, was fourth. She was followed by Birdatthewire, Angela Renee, Oceanwave, Include Betty, Condo Commando, Eskenformoney, Forever Unbridled, Puca and Money'soncharlotte. Sarah Sis was pulled up by Gary Stevens nearing the furlong marker and was vanned off.
Lovely Maria was timed in 1:50.45 in the 1 1/8 mile Oaks. Condo Commando led the field through initial fractions of 23.51 and 47.26. Angela Renee took over with six furlongs timed in 1:11.50, and the winner gained control just shy of the furlong marker after beginning her challenge in the far turn.
The win ran Lovely Maria's record to four wins and three seconds from eight starts. The winner's share of the $1 million Oaks was $564,200.
Lovely Maria, a daughter of Majesticperfection, is out of the Thunder Gulch mare Thundercup. She was bred in Kentucky by Olin B. Gentry and Thomas B. Gaines.
Larry Jones, trainer of Lovely Maria (winner)/I’m a Chatterbox (third) – “She did good. She sure did. Very similar going into the Keeneland race. She's a filly just doing good. She worked so well here. I knew she didn't have to carry her track with her. Chatterbox came closing. She came closing. She got squeezed back a little bit early, but she came closing. ... Third in the Kentucky Oaks. We can live with that.''
Steve Asmussen, trainer of Shook Up (second) – "She's a good filly, and good races are in her future. Very proud of her. She was ready, and I loved how she acted, love how she ran. I wish she had won, but I'm very proud of her effort.''
John Sadler, trainer of Stellar Wind (fourth as favorite) – “She just got roughed up at the start, you can’t be that far back today. She was way too far back. She was last around the first turn and the winners were all up close today so she never had any position. She just banged up out of the gate. Sometimes you get a bad trip so there’s nothing you can really do. We’ll take her back to California, freshen her up and then decide what to do next with her.”
Dale Romans, trainer of Birdatthewire (fifth) – “She ran hard. It was a good bunch of fillies and she didn’t get beat very far. I think the best filly won today.”
Todd Pletcher, trainer of Angela Renee (sixth)/Eskenformoney (10th) – “Angela Renee: “I thought she got a really good trip and then she just came up a little bit empty at the last part.” Eskenformoney: “We were hoping for a big race, she kind of missed the break, came away last around the first turn and closed some ground. I thought she ran a solid race."
Wayne Catalano, trainer of Oceanwave (seventh) – “afael (Bejarano) said she wouldn’t run between horses and she got pinched back. When he wanted her to go, she got intimidated and put on the brakes. But when he got her out, he said she was really running.”
Tom Proctor, trainer of Include Betty (eighth) – Unavailable for comment.
Rudy Rodriguez, trainer of Condo Commando (ninth) – Unavailable for comment
Dallas Stewart, trainer of Forever Unbridled (11th) – “No excuses. She just got outrun. Mike (Smith) gave her a great ride. Congratulations to Larry Jones.''
Bill Mott, trainer of Puca (12th) – “The post didn’t help us. We were hung up a little wide going into the first turn and he didn’t have enough to go on with it and it wasn’t easy to get back. (Jockey) Junior (Alvarado) thought she might be spinning her wheels.”
Kelly Breen, trainer of Money’soncharlotte (13th) – “She didn’t show up. I’m disappointed. She was training great going into the race. I know we were a longshot. I didn’t feel pressure. I bet on her. I felt good with my own money to say, ‘Hey, she’s training great.’ ”
Ingrid Mason, trainer of Sarah Sis (Did not finish) – “She’s fine. There is nothing wrong with her. I really think she just didn’t like the track. I had worked her over it and she bobbled a few times. It’s different than what she is used to.”
Kerwin Clark, jockey of Lovely Maria, winner – “I’ve been riding for 40 years and I won my first Grade I last month at Keeneland with this horse. Then we won this race today. I am very blessed. Blessed to have this horse; to have Larry Jones in my life and believing in me, and to have Mr. Jones believe in me and stick with me.”
Robby Albarado, jockey of Shook Up, second – “We had a great trip. We were right where we wanted to be. I was content in my spot behind the first two (Condo Commando and Angela Renee). She’s matured quite a bit. When we turned for home, I thought we had a chance to get there.”
Florent Geroux, jockey of I’m a Chatterbox, third – “She broke a step slow and I was maybe a little farther back than I wanted but, other than that, everything went smooth. I was able to sneak my way through and she finished really hard.”
Victor Espinoza, jockey of Stellar Wind, fourth – “She broke just a bit slow and that was a problem. I tried to stay up with the horse next to me, but we were getting outrun. Then when we went into the first turn and the dirt was flying back, she started jumping up and down. This wasn’t her day.”
Irad Ortiz Jr., jockey of Birdatthewire, fifth – “I got a good trip. My filly ran huge. She didn’t want to lose she just couldn’t do it today.”
John Velazquez, jockey of Angela Renee, sixth – “We were in perfect position. Down the lane the first time she was perfect. The way she was running around there, I was thinking they were going to have to run hard to pass her. But at the quarter pole, she just didn’t fire. It was bizarre."
Rafael Bejarano, jockey of Oceanwave, seventh – “I think she was intimidated by all the horses. She was uncomfortable out there. When I finally got her out, she started running. But it was too late.”
Rosemary Homeister Jr., jockey of Include Betty, eighth – Unavailable for comment.
Joel Rosario, jockey of Condo Commando, ninth – “She broke well out of the gate and she went like we expected her to and be on the lead for a little while. After passing the half-mile (pole) I had a horse on the outside of me. After we passed the three-eighths she was having a hard time keeping going. I thought she was going to last a little longer. Today was not her day.”
Javier Castellano, jockey of Eskenformoney, 10th – “My horse missed the break a bit out of the gate. I then had no choice but to use my horse early. She did really well, saved ground and finished well but she just couldn’t make it.”
Mike Smith, jockey of Forever Unbridled, 11th – “I thought I had the best trip of all. I just got outrun.”
Junior Alvarado, jockey of Puca, 12th – ““She broke good, but she was wide on the first turn. There was nothing really I could do. I tried to save some ground, but there were horses all over the place. It didn’t work out on the first turn. I don’t think she was handling the track. I don’t think she was comfortable today.”
Paco Lopez, jockey of Money’soncharlotte, 13th – “I had a good trip. No excuses."
Gary Stevens, jockey of Sarah Sis, Did not finish – “At the three-sixteenths (pole), she just stuck her feet in the ground. She went from runner to stopper. I had to pull her up. Something got her. But she just walked away OK. I think she’s going to be all right.”