05/01/2012 3:23PM

Kentucky Oaks undercard draw: Plum Pretty, St. John’s River rematch in La Troienne

Barbara D. Livingston
Plum Pretty (right) wins the 2011 Kentucky Oaks under jockey Martin Garcia.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Four hours before they run this year’s Kentucky Oaks, fans at Churchill Downs will be treated to a rematch of last year’s Oaks when Plum Pretty and St. John’s River renew acquaintances in Friday’s Grade 2, $300,000 La Troienne Stakes.

The La Troienne, run at 1 1/16 miles, is one of five stakes on the undercard of the 12-race Oaks Day program that begins at 10:30 a.m.

Plum Pretty, trained by Bob Baffert, held off St. John’s River by a neck to win last year’s Oaks. Plum Pretty and St. John’s River met again in the Alabama last August at Saratoga, finishing fourth and fifth, respectively, behind Royal Delta, the eventual 3-year-old filly champion.

[KENTUCKY OAKS: Get PPs, watch analysis video, and read pre-race reports]

Plum Pretty kicked off her 4-year-old campaign with a 2 1/4-length victory in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn on April 13 and wheels back on just three weeks’ rest.

“She came back and worked great, it was a last-minute thing,” Baffert said. “There was really nothing else for her. She has been training really well.”

Plum Pretty will break from post 4 under Rafael Bejarano and 123 pounds.

St. John’s River, trained by Andrew Leggio Jr., has not run since the Alabama. Leggio explained that the filly underwent a throat operation, known as tie-back surgery, and was given the remainder of the year off.

Leggio likes the way St. John’s River has trained for her comeback and thinks she will run “a big race” on Friday under Rosie Napravnik.

“She can compete with those fillies,” Leggio said. “The only thing I’m concerned about is whether she will be fit enough. She’s trained forwardly.”

The field includes Afleeting Lady, Love Theway Youare, Juanita, Absinthe Minded, and Maristar.

Alysheba: Streaking horses collide

Led by Mucho Macho Man and Nates Mineshaft, four of the nine horses entered in the $300,000 Alysheba Stakes bring multiple-race winning streaks into the Grade 2 race at 1 1/16 miles.

Mucho Macho Man, third in last year’s Kentucky Derby, has won three straight, including the Gulfstream Park Handicap on March 10. Nates Mineshaft has won four consecutive races, including a 7 1/4-length romp in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap.

Successful Dan, winner of the 2010 Clark Handicap, came off a 18-month layoff to win an allowance race, his fourth consecutive victory. Finally, Fort Larned has won two straight, including the Grade 3 Skip Away.

Others entered include Golden Yank, Boxeur des Rues, Apart, Plutonium, Our Dark Knight, and Colizeo.

American Turf: Howe Great outside

Howe Great, 3 for 3 on turf, got stuck in post 14 in a full field of 3-year-olds set to run in Friday’s Grade 2, $200,000 American Turf.

Howe Great, trained by Graham Motion, was perfect on turf at Gulfstream, including a victory in the Grade 3 Palm Beach . In his most recent start, Howe Great finished fifth in the Blue Grass.

Silver Max, winner of the Grade 3 Transylvania for Dale Romans, is stuck in post 13.

The American Turf field includes Gung Ho, third in the Blue Grass; Blueskiesnrainbows, third in the Santa Anita Derby; and Star Channel, a winner of three straight on the turf for trainer Todd Pletcher.

Eight Belles: Romans has two shots

Trainer Dale Romans has two of the eight 3-year-old fillies entered in Friday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Eight Belles Stakes, and either Xunlei and My Due Process have a shot.

Xunlei is coming off a four-length victory in the Sophomore Fillies Stakes at Tampa on April 7. My Due Process won a first-level allowance race at Gulfstream in her last start.

Good Deed, winner of the Prima Donna Stakes at Oaklawn; Contested, who had two monster victories at Santa Anita; and Small Kitchen are other top contenders.

Stephanie’s Kitten tops Edgewood

Stephanie’s Kitten, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf over this turf course last November, tops a field of 14 3-year-old fillies entered to run 1 1/16-miles in the $150,000 Edgewood Stakes.

Stephanie’s Kitten, owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, makes her second start of the year. In her seasonal debut, she finished third in the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland.

John Velazquez, aboard for last year’s Breeders’ Cup win, will be back aboard Friday.

More Than Love, who won the Grade 3 Miesque last fall at Hollywood, will attempt to bounce back from a seventh-place finish in the Bourbonette Oaks at Turfway last out.

Disposablepleasure, winner of the Grade 2 Demoiselle on dirt, tries stakes company on turf for the first time. She finished fourth to Welcome Dance in a turf race last summer at Saratoga.

Other contenders include Miz Ida, Treasured Up, and Dame Marie.