LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Godolphin-owned Wet Paint was judged by bettors the filly to beat in the $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs on Friday. But it was the other Godolphin entry, Pretty Mischievous, breaking from post 14 and sporting blinkers for the first time, who garnered the garland of lilies at the end of the 1 1/8-mile test before an announced crowd of more than 106,000.
Under Tyler Gaffalione, Pretty Mischievous was away cleanly and had enough early foot to rate in the second flight entering the clubhouse turn. Fifth while wide and in the clear down the backside as Flying Connection carved out the pace, Pretty Mischievous then made a four-wide bid around the far turn and grabbed a short lead passing the quarter pole.
Opening up in the stretch, Pretty Mischievous maintained focus just long enough to reach the wire a neck ahead of the fast-closing longshot Gambling Girl. It was another 2 1/2 lengths back to 30-1 longshot The Alys Look, who had a neck on Wet Paint, who was sent off as the 8-5 favorite.
Completing the order of finish was Dorth Vader, Flying Connection, Defining Purpose, Mimi Kakushi, Southlawn, Wonder Wheel, Affirmative Lady, And Tell Me Nolies, Botanical, and Promiseher America.
Pretty Mischievous covered the nine furlongs in 1:49.77 over a track rated fast and returned a nifty $22.74 as the fourth choice in a field of 14.
“We’ve planned this for a very, very long time,” trainer Brendan Walsh said. “We had a couple bumps on the road, but nothing major. We were able to make a few adjustments.”
This was the fifth win in seven starts for Pretty Mischievous, who captured her first two starts at Churchill Downs last fall before running third in the Golden Rod (G2). Wintering at Fair Grounds, Pretty Mischievous raced three times at the New Orleans oval. Victorious by 3 1/4 lengths in the Untapable S. on Dec. 26 and by three parts of a length in the Rachel Alexandra (G2) on Feb. 18, she preceded this win with a second-place finish, by 3 1/4 lengths, to Southlawn in the Mar. 25 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2).
“We just wanted to get her to focus a little better, more for the end of the race,” said Walsh about the addition of blinkers for the Kentucky Oaks. “When she ran second at Fair Grounds, she got there so easy at the head of the straight and looked like she might win by three or four lengths. But I think the blinkers just got her to hang in there more today and it probably had a good effect on her.”
Bred in Kentucky, Pretty Mischievous is by Into Mischief and was produced by the Tapit mare Pretty City Dancer, who captured the Spinaway (G1) at two. Pretty City Dancer is herself a half-sister to Grade 1 heroine Lear’s Princess.