10/05/2013 6:24PM

Indiana Downs: Pure Fun comes back sharp in Oaks

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Lawrence Van Garrett
Pure Fun, with Victor Lebron aboard, wins her first start in five months, the Indiana Oaks.

SHELBYVILLE, IND. - Pure Fun made her return from a summer freshening worth the wait, running down heavy favorite Fiftyshadesofhay in the stretch to win the $200,000 Indiana Oaks on Saturday at Indiana Downs.

The 3-year-old Pure Prize filly made her first start in five months in the Grade 2 race, having most recently finished sixth in the Kentucky Oaks.

Pure Fun settled in last as longshot Run Forestry Run took an early lead on the rail and set the half-mile pace in 46.82. Fiftyshadesofhay pressured the leader and took over from the quickly tiring pacesetter on the backstretch.

Fiftyshadesofhay entered the stretch with a half-length lead over Oscar Party and Pure Fun, who was four wide. The leader appeared in position to take control in the stretch, but did not find the next gear over a deep, sloppy track as Pure Fun passed her on the outside.

Pure Fun accelerated past the eighth pole under left-handed urging from jockey Victor Lebron and drove to the finish to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Oscar Party joined the winner on her outside trip and finished second, three-quarters of a length in front of Fiftyshadesofhay.

“When we broke, I stuck to my plan,” Lebron said. “I didn’t worry about the pace at all and let them do their own thing. I know Pure Fun’s running style, so with a lot of speed or no speed, the game plan would have been the same as how I rode her.”

Pure Fun completed the 1 1/16-mile race in 1:43.70 over a sloppy main track for trainer Ken McPeek’s Magdalena Racing. She paid $10.20.

The rail trip on Indiana Downs’ surface proved especially taxing during the undercard races, and that held true in the Indiana Oaks, with the top two finishers taking a wide path. Matt Shirer, assistant to McPeek, said that staying on the outside suited Pure Fun just fine.

“She tends to like it like that, whether it’s a fast track or a muddy track,” he said. “Victor works her in the mornings, and we noticed probably two works back that she excelled when she was on the outside of horses. She doesn’t want to be down on the inside.”

With the victory, Pure Fun improved her career record to four wins from 12 starts for earnings of $482,652. It was her second graded stakes victory, after winning last year’s edition of the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet Stakes. She was bred in Kentucky by Royal Oak Farm.

Shirer said that McPeek and the rest of the Magdalena partnership did not have an immediate plan for Pure Fun’s follow-up start.

“That win was pretty impressive, so we’ll regroup with Kenny and see where we want to go with her,” he said. “We don’t have a race picked out.”