04/01/2017 6:32PM

Farrell makes easy work of Fair Grounds Oaks

Hodges Photography / Amanda Hodges Weir
Farrell's triumph in the Fair Grounds Oak was her fourth straight win.

NEW ORLEANS – At Churchill Downs in the Kentucky Oaks, one presumes, Farrell will find some competition. Here at Fair Grounds this winter and spring, little has stood in her way.

In January, Farrell won the Silverbulletday Stakes by 2 3/4 lengths. In February, she captured the Rachel Alexandra by 3 1/2 lengths. And on Saturday, it was no contest in the Grade 2, $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks, in which Farrell was 3 1/4 lengths the best.

The margin might have been greater had Farrell had to, you know, really try. Stalking three-wide from third as Daria’s Angel led Vexatious through fractions of 24.09 seconds for the quarter, 47.55 to the half, and 1:12.09 for six furlongs, Farrell and jockey Channing Hill swooped to the lead before the quarter-pole with the greatest of ease.

Farrell had opened a three-length lead at the stretch call without really being asked, at which point she jumped tracks left on the surface by the starting gate (she did the same thing in the Rachel Alexandra) and goofed her way to the finish line. 

“She almost kind of put me off a little bit, she settled so nice today,” Hill said. “I was like, ‘Please let me have a little horse’. Once I picked her up from the three-eighths pole, though, I knew it was over. This is a filly that when she gets by herself, she doesn’t shut down completely, but she does idle. You hear all around that she can’t finish – take it from me, I got a lot of horse left. I really think if she has a target she’ll run it down, no problem.”

Farrell ran one mile in 1:36.98 and stopped the timer in 1:43.67 for 1 1/16 miles on a fast track. She paid $2.80 as the strong favorite. Wicked Lick ground her way to a second-place finish, a nose in front of Vexatious. Daria’s Angel faded badly and was more than seven lengths farther back in fourth.

Brendan Walsh, Wicked Lick’s trainer, said he thought his filly also would go on to the Kentucky Oaks. “The nice thing with her is she’s so consistent,” Walsh said.

Farrell, a homebred, is trained by Wayne Catalano for the Coffeepot Stables of Bob Cummings and Annette Bacola. The filly is by Malibu Moon and out of the Unbridled’s Song mare Rebridled Dreams, making her a sister to the Grade 1 winner Carpe Diem. Catalano was talking Farrell up as early as last August, and Farrell ended her 2-year-old season by winning the Grade 2 Golden Rod at Churchill by six lengths.

Saturday’s race makes four stakes in a row, and Farrell is looking ever stronger. She has gained weight through her Fair Grounds campaign, and has grown more and more comfortable with the mental aspect of being a racehorse.

“Calming her down was a big thing,” Catalano said. “She was a very hyper filly. She’s come around a long ways.”

Catalano will shift his Fair Ground string north in coming days. Farrell could either fly or travel by van, but soon enough she will wind up back at Churchill Downs.

“It looks like she could be the favorite for the Oaks. It’s a great feeling to be going there,” Catalano said.