The form of a May 25 Churchill Downs allowance was validated on two fronts Saturday, most surprisingly when Project Whiskey pulled off a 38-1 stunner in the $300,000 Delaware Oaks (G3) under Frankie Pennington.
Bouncing back from a last-place finish in that 6-furlong allowance, won by Saturday’s Victory Ride (G3) heroine Frank’s Rockette, Project Whiskey unexpectedly made a belated entrance into the Kentucky Oaks (G1) picture at Delaware with a half-length score over 9-1 Dream Marie.
A tracking third behind 19-10 favorite Piece of My Heart most of the way, Project Whiskey commenced a two-wide bid between rivals on the far turn, put away the favorite in upper stretch and fended off Dream Marie to win in a time of 1:44.04 for 1 1/16 miles over a fast track. Princess Cadey, a 14-1 outsider, rallied for third.
Owned by Cash is King and LC Racing, Project Whiskey paid $79.60. She’s trained by Butch Reid.
“I am glad we went down to Churchill to get that race in her which set her up perfectly for this,” Reid said. “I think this is what she has been waiting to do – to go a route ground. We are not sure where we are going to go next with her, but I am sure it will probably have the word ‘Oaks’ behind it.”
The order of finish was rounded out by Piece of My Heart, Hopeful Growth, Comical, the slow-starting Queen Bridget, and Long Point Beach.
As part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series, the Delaware Oaks awarded Project Whiskey, Dream Marie, Princess Cadey, and Piece of My Heart Oaks qualifying points of 50-20-10-5, respectively. All were earning their first Kentucky Oaks points except Dream Marie, who had already earned 10 finishing third in the Feb. 29 Davona Dale (G2).
This was the second career stakes win for Project Whiskey, who captured the Parx Juvenile Fillies over 7 furlongs last November. She preceded that win with a maiden score in her third career start, but finished seventh of eight in the Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship at Laurel in December after a slow start. Her record now stands at 7-3-0-2, $262,580.
Bred in Maryland by Dark Hollow Farm, Project Whiskey was a $35,000 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic yearling purchase. By Tapizar, she was produced by Over the Moon, a Malibu Moon half-sister to Grade 2 scorer Ready’s Image.
Odds-on favorite Gufo made it four wins in a row and two-for-two in stakes company with a come-from-behind score in the $125,250 Kent Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds on the turf.
Dropping out near the back and 9 1/2 lengths behind early, Gufo uncorked a four-wide rally entering the stretch and seized command late to win by a half-length under Trevor McCarthy.
Owned by Otter Bend Stables and trained by Christophe Clemente, Gufo paid $3.20 after completing 1 1/8 miles on firm ground in course-record time of 1:46.94. Finishing behind Gufo were Pixelate, Vanzzy, Talking, Sunsation, Me and Mr. C, and Bye Bye Melvin.
Gufo has now won four of five starts and had previously captured the English Channel S. at Gulfstream on May 2. He’s now earned $177,510.
A Declaration of War half-brother to multiple Grade 3 winner Hogy, Gufo was bred in Kentucky by John Little and Stephen Cainelli. He was produced by Floy, by Petionville.