05/07/2011 11:49AM

Kentucky Oaks top finishers exit race in good shape

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Barbara D. Livingston
Plum Pretty and Martin Garcia win the Kentucky Oaks on Friday at Churchill Downs.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Plum Pretty came out of her Kentucky Oaks victory in fine shape and her future racing schedule will be decided over the next few days, Jim Barnes, assistant to trainer Bob Baffert, said Saturday morning.

Baffert was ecstatic with the way Plum Pretty confirmed her 25-length victory in her previous race, the Sunland Park Oaks, by taking command at the top of the stretch before holding on by a neck over late-flying St. John’s River in capturing the Churchill Downs filly classic Friday.

“She ran like she was at Sunland Park,” Baffert joked during a lengthy post-race media conference.

Plum Pretty, ridden by Martin Garcia, tracked pace-setting Summer Soiree into defeat, spurted clear of the pack after turning for home, then had just enough left to hold off a torrid surge from St. John’s River. Plum Pretty, owned by the Peachtree Stable of John Fort, was the 6-1 fourth choice in a field of 13 3-year-old fillies.

St. John’s River, ridden by Rosie Napravnik, also came out of the race well, according to trainer Andy Leggio.

Among the beaten favorites in the race, their connections were disappointed, but not discouraged, in the post-race aftermath.

“We’re pleased,” said John Sadler, trainer of Zazu, who ran third as the 7-2 second choice. “She didn’t have the best of trips.”

Joyful Victory was fourth as the 2-1 favorite. “There were three other horses that got there faster than we did,” said trainer Larry Jones.

Major races in the division that could be logical next stops for Plum Pretty and the others include the June 11 Acorn or the June 25 Mother Goose, both at Belmont Park.

Meanwhile, Oaks Day continues to grow, as Churchill announced that an Oaks Day record $37.5 million was handled from all sources on the 12-race Friday card. Ontrack attendance was 110,122, third highest in race history. Churchill is donating $1 from every admission to the Susan G. Komen breast cancer foundation.

Friday ontrack handle was $12.1 million, with $3 million of that on the Oaks. All-sources handle on the Oaks was $11.4 million.

Tracks owned by Churchill Downs Inc. normally do not release business figures except for major race days.