September 22, 2021

Ever So Clever, Torrent breeze ahead of Kentucky Oaks

Ever So Clever breezed four furlongs in :49.80 at Churchill Downs on Sunday, April 30, 2017 (c) Churchill Downs/Coady Photography

Fantasy Stakes (G3) winner Ever So Clever readied for Friday’s 143rd running of the Kentucky Oaks (G1) with a half-mile move in :49.80 over Churchill Downs’ fast main track before the renovation break on Sunday.

The Steve Asmussen-trained daughter of Medaglia d’Oro had regular exercise rider Angel Garcia in the saddle in her third move since upsetting the Fantasy on April 14.

“It was spot on,” Asmussen said. “It’s a good race, but the filly is doing wonderful. She’s very comfortable here at Churchill and has run solid over the racetrack. We feel that she has that going for her. And, obviously we were impressed with today’s move.”

Ever So Clever is no stranger to Churchill, having captured her maiden debut at the track by 7 1/4 lengths last July. She also ran second by a half-length in the Pocahontas Stakes (G2) and third in the Golden Rod Stakes (G2) under the Twin Spires as a juvenile.

Thus far as a sophomore Ever So Clever has raced exclusively at Oaklawn Park, finishing fifth in both the Martha Washington Stakes and Honeybee Stakes (G3) before the Fantasy.

“She was geared up for the Fantasy,” Asmussen said. “She’s a nice, laid back filly and she was just coming back. She was sharp enough for the Fantasy, but maybe still a little flat in the Honeybee.”

Torrent, who currently needs one defection to make the Kentucky Oaks field, breezed a half-mile in :47.60 with Greta Kuntzweiler aboard after the renovation break on Sunday.

“It was a smooth, fast work,” trainer Ron Moquett said. “Just what I wanted.”

Torrent would be seeking her first stakes win if she makes the Oaks field after running third in the Martha Washington Stakes and fourth in the Fantasy in her past two efforts.

In other Kentucky Oaks news:

Grade 1 heroine Abel Tasman took a spin around Churchill for the first time on Sunday, jogging a mile after arriving Saturday from California.

“It was a simple trip,” said assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes, whose wife, exercise rider Dana Barnes, was in Abel Tasman’s saddle for the Sunday’s exercise. “She jogged a mile this morning and we’ll wait to see what (trainer) Bob (Baffert) tells us to do the rest of the week.”

Sailor’s Valentine galloped at Churchill Downs on Sunday, April 30, 2017 (c) Churchill Downs/Coady Photography

Ashland Stakes (G1) upsetter Sailor’s Valentine also settled into her stall at Churchill Downs Saturday afternoon after vanning from Keeneland. The Eddie Kenneally trainee galloped a circuit with exercise rider Kelly Wheeler aboard at the 8:30 a.m. (ET) start of the special training period reserved for Kentucky Derby (G1) and Oaks runners.

“She’s peaking at the right time and there are plenty of similarities between her and Bushfire,” Kenneally said in reference to his 2006 Kentucky Oaks runner who finished third before being disqualified to sixth. “They both got started in the fall of their two-year-old years, with Bushfire not starting until November and this filly starting in October, where she became a TDN Rising Star in an excellent Keeneland win. That was one of the reasons we ran her in the Ashland.

“I bought both horses. Bushfire only cost $35,000 as a yearling and Sailor’s Valentine was $100,000,” he continued. “They’re very similar in talent and depending on how she runs Friday, I think she could go on to the Grade 1 races that Bushfire won in New York (Acorn Stakes [G1] and Mother Goose Stakes [G1]).”

Pocahontas winner Daddys Lil Darling, who finished a half-length second in the Ashland last out, walked the shedrow at Keeneland on Sunday and is scheduled to van to Churchill on Monday.

“We’re excited to get her to Louisville,” assistant trainer Jeff Hiles said. “She was stabled with me at Payson Park (Florida) this winter and we’re getting excited for the Oaks.”

Grade 1-placed stakes victress Mopotism is expected to fly to Kentucky on Monday with a California contingent bound for races at Churchill.

Santa Anita Oaks (G1) queen Paradise Woods is also scheduled to fly in from California on Monday. The Union Rags filly galloped at Santa Anita Park on Sunday.