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Hollywood Park: Emollient delivers as favorite in American Oaks
INGLEWOOD, Calif. – After leaving the winner’s circle following Saturday’s $350,750 American Oaks at Betfair Hollywood Park, Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith took a moment to congratulate himself on his ride.
He had the right.
Riding Emollient, Smith made a decision on the backstretch to move the 6-5 favorite three wide and engage a slow pace set by Sarach. It turned out to be a vital move. Emollient ($4.40) had a clean trip through the final five furlongs and won the Grade 1 American Oaks by a half-length over a determined Emotional Kitten.
“I had a chance to get clear and make the pace go,” Smith said of his backstretch move. “I thought if I stayed behind, I could have gotten out later, but if I didn’t, the closers would be coming. Looking back, it was a good move, but then if I’d gotten beat a head, you could have said I moved too soon.”
Making her turf debut, Emollient ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.38.
Even though Emollient is trained by Bill Mott in New York, Smith knows the filly. He rode Emollient to a nine-length win in the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes on the Polytrack synthetic surface at Keeneland in April and was aboard when she finished a disappointing sixth as the 6-5 favorite in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico on May 17. Emollient stumbled badly at the start of the Black-Eyed Susan on dirt, essentially losing all chance.
She had a better start in the American Oaks, even though Smith described her break as “flat-footed.” There was a plan to take Emollient to the lead if she broke sharply, but Smith settled the filly in third through the first half-mile, following Sarach, who set a slow early pace of 25.63 and 50.26 seconds.
When Sarach reached six furlongs in a poky 1:14.91, with Emollient only a head behind, Smith felt better about his decision to engage the leaders on the backstretch. Turning into the stretch, Emollient led by a half-length but was quickly challenged by Emotional Kitten, the winner of the Hilltop Stakes on turf at Pimlico on May 17.
Emotional Kitten got within a neck of Emollient in the final furlong but could not catch the leader.
“I thought I was going to get there right at the wire,” said Victor Espinoza, who rode Emotional Kitten. “She ran an unbelievable race. I thought I’d catch them.”
Emotional Kitten finished three-quarters of a length in front of Topic, a maiden race winner in her last start June 13. Sarach, who won the Grade 2 Honeymoon Handicap on June 8, was followed by Becky Lou, Scarlet Strike, Macha, and Wittgenstein.
Emollient, by Empire Maker, is owned by Juddmonte Farms. The American Oaks was her fourth win in eight starts. She has earned $656,900.
There's a story there for the kind of year that Mike Smith is having. He runs 1/3 the number of times that the leader, Joel Rosario, runs, but makes more than twice as much per ride and has managed to be in about the #10 position earnings wise. Saving that aging body and having more fun doing it! He would be the first to tell you he isn't perfect, but he's about as close as anyone will ever get. He should get the Eclipse award for being the most efficient rider around!
Great ride great trainer and class owners-- but I will say these kitten's joy offspring are runners-- seems they are everywhere --
When the big $$$ is on the line there are few jocks better than Mike Smith.
Hats off to Mott and Ward for spotting a soft grade 1 and having wisdom to make the effort to ship out. They were rewarded by running 1-2. And it truly was a brilliantly subtle ride Smith. He saved ground on the 1st turn, got Emollient to the outside on the backstretch, allowed Emollient to float wide, thus forcing Emotional Kitten to either back off and settle behind Emollient(rather than on her flank) or move through on Emollient's inside(Espinoza chose the former), quickly dropping back down to the 3 path around the far turn during that astute early move(leaving Emotional Kitten a few lengths arears), and then in the stretch guiding Emollient to the outside so that she could see the late challenge from Emotional Kitten before hand riding her the last 50 yards.
Thats why he is in the HOF.
with the success billy mott is having for juddmonte. i wonder if he is a shareholder by now
WELL ANOTHER BIG ONE FOR MIKIE, WONDER WHAT SOMEONE IS THINKING UP IN CANADA??THE BIG DOGS WILL KEEP THE WONDER RIDERS OUT IN THE STREET....WAY TO GO MS
Juddmonte Farm...simply the best!
Mike is having bang up year with stakes horses, way to go champ!
ran all 3 times without lasix at the age 2. a trainer with patience.
- 1.Posted 12/08/2013 09:52AM
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