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Oaks prospect Kathmanblu returns in Sweetest Chant

Kathmanblu's latest victory on the grass was in Keeneland's Jessamine Stakes (Keeneland/Coady Photography)

The May 6 Kentucky Oaks (G1) remains a target for the Kenny McPeek-trained filly KATHMANBLU (Bluegrass Cat), who demonstrated a clear fondness for the Churchill Downs strip last time when romping home an 8 1/2-length winner of the Golden Rod S. (G2). She'll take an untraditional route to get the Oaks when returning to turf for her first prep in Saturday's $100,000 Sweetest Chant S. at Gulfstream Park over one mile.

A non-entity in her debut on dirt last summer, Kathmanblu's future looked to be on turf when breaking her maiden over that surface at Ellis Park in her second start. She improved rapidly enough to finish second in the P.G. Johnson S. at Saratoga next out and then won the Jessamine S. at Keeneland by four lengths. The latter heat set her up well for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G2), and the filly responded with an encouraging performance at 7-1, rallying from 11th to finish third by two lengths despite a troubled trip

The door on a dirt career can not be completely closed with a filly of Kathmanblu's caliber, so the Golden Rod was used to re-test her dirt ability. The bay passed with flying colors as the 6-5 favorite, dominating her opposition and completing the 1 1/16 miles in faster time than juvenile males ran in the Kentucky Jockey Club S. (G2) later in the program.

Julian Leparoux, who's ridden Kathmanblu since the Jessmine, retains the mount in the Sweetest Chant.

TIGER GIRL (Hold That Tiger) makes her debut for trainer Bill Mott and will be handled by Kent Desormeaux. A mainstay in Louisiana until recently, Tiger Girl won minor grass stakes at Louisiana Downs and Retama Park last fall and narrowly missed winning another. She was subsequently trounced in a pair of Louisiana-bred stakes on dirt, but might wake up on a return to her preferred surface.

EXCITED (Giant's Causeway) was a wide-trip fourth in the Miss Grillo S. (G3) at Belmont in October, then rallied to miss by three parts of a length in both the Good Mood S. and an entry-level allowance at Aqueduct. She goes for the potent combo of trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez.

NINA FEVER (Borrego), a three-time winner over the Keeneland Polytrack, won her lone turf attempt to date at Kentucky Downs and missed by a head in the Glorious Song S. over Woodbine's synthetic main track. However, she wilted to seventh after flashing speed in the Hollywood Starlet S. (G1) last time. HOLIDAYSATTHEFARM (Smarty Jones) was a closing second in the John Franks Juvenile Fillies Turf at Calder in her stakes debut most recently, while WAR PROSPECTOR (War Front) registered a 41-1 turf allowance upset on opening day of the Gulfstream meet.

Allowance winners BELLARIDGE (Cactus Ridge) and MICHELLE'S TRIP (Trippi) complete the main body of the field, while GREATEST DREAM (Greatness) is entered for the main track only.


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