04/20/2013 2:23PM

Kentucky Oaks: Pletcher works Dreaming of Julia at Churchill Downs

Barbara D. Livingston
Dreaming of Julia worked a half-mile in 48.80 seconds Saturday at Churchill Downs in preparation for the May 3 Kentucky Oaks.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – He doesn’t quite have ‘em totally surrounded, but it would be difficult to envision a more enviable position for the 139th Kentucky Oaks than what Todd Pletcher has.

With as many as four of the projected 14 starters for the May 3 filly classic at Churchill Downs residing in his barn, Pletcher might well have the two post-time favorites in Dreaming of Julia and Unlimited Budget. Both of those standout fillies were out for serious work Saturday at Churchill in Louisville, Ky., along with the other two Pletcher prospects for the Oaks, Silsita and Princess of Sylmar.

On a cold morning and over a fast track, Dreaming of Julia – the Stonestreet Stables filly who dropped more than a few jaws with her 21 3/4-length victory in the Gulfstream Park Oaks on the March 30 Florida Derby undercard – was first to go when breezing a solo half-mile in 48.80 seconds.

“We were looking for a solid work with a good gallop-out, and I thought she did that very well,” Pletcher told Churchill publicity staff afterward. “After a monstrous effort, we were anxious to see how she bounced out of (the Gulfstream race). Her appetite, energy level, and enthusiasm have all been terrific since that race. If it did take something out of her, she hasn’t shown it.”

Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez is expected to ride Dreaming of Julia in the 1 1/8-mile Oaks after he heals from injuries suffered in an April 7 spill at Aqueduct. Velazquez has said he hopes to be back riding races May 1.

Minutes after Dreaming of Julia worked, Unlimited Budget breezed nearest the rail and was closely accompanied by Silsita throughout a five-furlong drill. Churchill clockers caught the pair in 1:00.60 for six furlongs.

Unlimited Budget, unbeaten in four starts, all for the Repole Stable, will be ridden by Javier Castellano, who was aboard the bay filly for the first time when she captured the Fair Grounds Oaks last out. Pletcher has not yet named a jockey for Silsita for the Oaks but said Gary Stevens, who was aboard for the Saturday work, is the most likely candidate.

Meanwhile, Pletcher said he is less sure of Princess of Sylmar actually starting in the Oaks after the filly breezed in company with stablemate Fusaichiswonderful, who will run on the Oaks undercard in the Grade 3 Eight Belles.

The work for Princess of Sylmar, a Pennsylvania-bred owned by the King of Prussia Stable, “was OK this morning,” Pletcher said.

“It looked like she was struggling with the racetrack a little bit down the lane,” he said. “I would say I need to see her work next week before making a decision on whether she’ll run in the Oaks or not.”

Pletcher already has won the Oaks twice, with Ashado (2004) and Rags to Riches (2007).

There was one other Oaks work Saturday, with Rose to Gold breezing a half-mile in 48.20 seconds. Rose to Gold, trained by Sal Santoro, has won five stakes from just seven career starts and will enter the Oaks off a 4 1/2-length victory in the Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

Entries for the Oaks will be taken April 30.

All of the works came during the special Oaks-Derby training session that follows the regularly scheduled harrow break each morning.

There were no Derby workouts at Churchill or Keeneland on Saturday, but at least several were scheduled for Sunday, including Normandy Invasion for Chad Brown and perhaps a few for Pletcher, who could have as many as five starters in the Derby.