Updated on 05/06/2011 12:28PM

Kentucky Oaks: Joyful Victory draws the rail in field of 13

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Barbara D. Livingston
Joful Victory drew the rail for Friday's Kentucky Oaks.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – After Kathmanblu won the Golden Rod Stakes in a romp last fall at Churchill Downs, the main goal for her connections was simply to get the filly back to the Kentucky Oaks in good shape.

So far, so good. Kathmanblu was assigned post 4, ideal for her stalking style, as one of the top contenders in the Grade 1, $1 million Kentucky Oaks, which will be run Friday at Churchill for the 137th time. In all, 13 3-year-old fillies are entered in the 1 1/8-mile Oaks, with Joyful Victory getting the inside post as the 5-2 morning-line favorite under Mike Smith.

Kathmanblu has had three races since she won the Golden Rod, a foundation that McPeek believes has the daughter of Bluegrass Cat set up for a huge effort Friday.

“She’s really been floating around the track,” McPeek said.

Julien Leparoux has the mount aboard Kathmanblu, the co-second choice on the program at 4-1. Zazu (post 6, Joel Rosario) is the other 4-1 choice, with a pair of 5-1 fillies rounding out the favoritism: Summer Soiree (post 3, Gabriel Saez) and Plum Pretty (post 12, Martin Garcia).

Joyful Victory, trained by Larry Jones, is the hottest horse in the race, having captured back-to-back Oaklawn Park stakes, the Honeybee and Fantasy, by wide margins. The striking gray daughter of Tapit is owned by the Fox Hill Farms of Rick Porter.

Jones is going for his second Oaks triumph in the last four runnings, having won in 2008 with Proud Spell.

The expected Oaks favorite, R Heat Lightning, was declared from the race Monday with a knee injury. Her trainer, Todd Pletcher, will still have an Oaks starter in Her Smile (post 7, Garrett Gomez, 20-1), recently purchased by celebrity chef Bobby Flay. Pletcher and Gomez teamed to win the 2007 Oaks with the eventual Belmont Stakes winner, Rags to Riches.

The rest of the Oaks field is Lilacs and Lace, Suave Voir Faire, Bouquet Booth, Daisy Devine, Street Storm, Holy Heavens, and St. John’s River.

The Oaks purse was doubled to $1 million this year.

First post for a 12-race Oaks Day card and its wildly popular “Pink Out” theme is 10:30 a.m. Eastern, with the Oaks, the 11th race, set for 5:45 p.m. Versus will have live television coverage from 5-6 p.m. The weather forecast for Friday calls for a 30 percent chance for showers to return to the area, with a high temperature of about 68.

The Oaks starts off a pair of two-day wagers: the $1 Oaks-Derby double, first offered in 1996, and the 50-cent Oaks-Woodford-Derby pick three, first offered in 2009. Five other stakes also will be run Friday, when more than 100,000 ontrack fans are expected.

 

Oaks lineup

(Post, Horse, Jockey, Morning line)

1. Joyful Victory, M. Smith, 5-2

2. Lilacs and Lace, J. Castellano, 12-1

3. Summer Soiree, G.Saez, 5-1

4. Kathmanblu, J. Leparoux, 4-1

5. Suave Voir Faire, M. Mena, 50-1

6. Zazu, J. Rosario, 4-1

7. Her Smile, G. Gomez, 20-1

8. Bouquet Booth, R. Albarado, 20-1

9. Daisy Devine, J. Graham, 20-1

10. Street Storm, S. Bridgmohan, 50-1

11. Holy Heavens, K. Desormeaux, 50-1

12. Plum Pretty, M. Garcia, 5-1

13. St. John’s River, R. Napravnik, 30-1