07/16/2016 11:20PM

Family Tree wheels back quickly to win Indiana Oaks

Coady Photography
Family Tree wins the Indiana Oaks by three lengths under Julien Leparoux.

SHELBYVILLE, Indiana – Wayne Catalano looked at the stakes schedule for 3-year-old dirt-route fillies around the country, looked at the way Family Tree seemed to have come out of a two-length win June 30 in the Iowa Oaks, and could find no reason not to run his filly in the Indiana Oaks. So Family Tree shipped from her base at Keeneland to Indiana Grand and bagged her second graded stakes in about two weeks, dashing away from Emmzy to win the  Grade 2, $200,000 Indiana Oaks by three lengths.

“She worked in 47 on Monday at Keeneland like this,” Catalano said, miming a rider holding hard the reins of a horse. “If you’re not going to run now, when are you going to run?”

If the fractions in the Oaks are to be believed – and there were both timing errors on turf and questionable splits in dirt races at various points during the card – the race was run like it was on turf, slow early and fast late. The longshot Missaleney, with Emmzy pressing two wide, and Family Tree stacked three deep not far from the front, going an opening quarter-mile in 24.37seconds and the first half in a glacial 49.88. The third quarter also was slow, 24.74, but then the pace -- Family Tree’s in particular -- really picked up, the fourth quarter going in 23.75 seconds, and Family Tree, still wide on the turn, was going faster still. Emmzy could not keep up, and after a last half-furlong in a little more than six seconds, Family Tree ($4.80)  was alone at the finish, getting 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.46.

“She was there for me the whole way,” said wining rider Julien Leparoux. “I could do anything I want with her.”

Emmzy, making her stakes debut, was clearly second best, finishing 3 1/4 lengths in front of Mines and Magic, another stakes-debuter. Mines and Magic sat inside just behind the pace, and got a little claustrophobic there a couple times. She finished decently, not great, and nosed out Dothraki Queen, who rallied from last behind the slow fractions, for third.

Catalano trained Family Tree for her first four starts before she wound up with Bob Baffert – another trainer for owners Gary and Mary West – for three starts before moving back under Catalano’s care. Having knocked out a Grade 3 and a Grade 2 in quick succession, Catalano said connections will probably try to get Family Tree a Grade 1 sometime, somewhere.

Family Tree, bred by Dell Ridge Farm and Sam-Son Farm, is a daughter of Smart Strike and the Giant’s Causeway mare Giant Mover who was purchased as a yearling at Keeneland for $225,000. She ran her career record to 9-4-2-2 with Saturday night’s win.