05/04/2012 8:37AM

Oaks Day at the Downs


Hello from Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks Day, where it is a sultry morning more befitting August in Miami. Local weather forecasters do think there is a reasonably good chance for afternoon storms, which I guess also means there is a reasonably good chance we might escape a shower. The point is, keep an eye on the weather, especially for the impact it might have on multi-race exotics wagers. Track conditions could change quickly.

I’ll be back from time to time during the day with thoughts on the stakes and on how the track might be playing. See you later.

12:12 - The main track is very fast - again - and while there doesn't appear to be an overt bias, I would prefer to not have my horses near  the inside. Just took a look at the local radar and there are two storms off to the west, heading east. But even if those storms hold together, it looks like they might slip by just north of here. There is probably more beind those, however.

2:47 - FYI, the National Weather Service has put Louisville under a severe thunderstorm watch (not as severe as a warning) until 10 pm. Not much on the radar right now, though.

I have to think it was the relatively quick three week turnaround that is the reason why Plum Pretty came up so empty in the La Trioenne. But the Baffert barn rebounded immediately in the Eight Belles with Contested, who looks like a very nice filly.

4:21 - The lastest look at the radar shows what looks like a nasty storm possibly moving this way. Heads up.

In the meantime, Successful Dan had never been beaten by another horse in three starts at Churchill Downs (he was dq'd from first in the 2010 Clark) and he still hasn't been. He rallied relentlessly to catch the vastly improved Fort Larned in the Alysheba.

Stephanie's Kitten was best in the Edgwood in the race before, but she's going to have to do better if she is to be a real contender at Royal Ascot.

4:33 - It was just announced that Churchill is asking all patrons in the infield to please leave the infield as a storm with high winds is expected to hit at 5 pm. We are now in a weather delay, with racing suspended until after the storm passes.

5:52 - The speculation is, many who made up a big Oaks Day crowd went home instead of cramming in and underneath the stands following the evacuation of the infield, and apron. The infield has been reopened for about a half hour, but its population is still sparse. The seats on the apron are crowded, but not as packed as they were before the storm.

In any case, Silver Max is just as sharp as a horse can be right now. He looked like the speed of the speed in the American Turf, but it looked like he would be pressed into too fast a pace. Silver Max did set a fast pace, but he still cruised and has now romped in his last four starts on turf.

6:27 - There was almost universal agreement that, with all the speed in the Oaks, there would be a pace meltdown. Well, Broadway's Alibi went to the front, was pressed by Believe You Can through fractions that really weren't that fast, Believe You Can wrested command in the stretch, and scored over Broadway's Alibi. Pace meltdown? What pace meltdown?

Believe You Can made jockey Rosie Napravnik the first female jockey ever to win the Oaks, and she did it before an announced crowd of 112,552.

See you tomorrow.