Judy and J. Kirk Robinson’s Vertical Oak earned a second straight stakes victory when capturing the $150,000 Miss Preakness Stakes (G3) on Black-Eyed Susan Friday at Pimlico by 3 3/4 lengths under jockey Jose Ortiz.
Vertical Oak tracked the early pace in third through splits of :22.61 and :45.54, just behind the dueling My Miss Chiff and 2-1 favorite Our Majesty. The Giant Oaks filly took over and began pulling away in upper stretch, eventually finishing six furlongs on the fast main track in 1:10.06.
Trained by Steve Asmussen, Vertical Oak paid $15.60 as the 6-1 fourth choice in the 13-strong field. Our Majesty lost the war but won the battle over My Miss Chiff, finishing a half-length in front of that rival to take second.
Too Much Tip just missed third by a neck and completing the order of finish were Astrollinthepark, R Angel Katelyn, Deer Valley, Crabcakes, Stormy Embrace, Nonna Bella, Who’s the Lady, Discreet Deceit and Bode’s Dream.
Vertical Oak broke her maiden in her second outing, and two races later added an allowance/optional claiming victory to her resume while closing out her juvenile campaign. The chestnut lass kicked off her three-year-old season with a fourth-placing in the January 21 Dixie Belle Stakes and was fourth again, but elevated to third via disqualification, in the Purple Martin Stakes two months later, both at Oaklawn Park.
Vertical Oak shipped to Prairie Meadows next out to earn her first stakes score in the Goldfinch Stakes by 7 3/4 lengths, and parlayed that into a Miss Preakness triumph here. The sophomore miss improved her career record to read 8-4-1-1, $242,200.
Bred in Kentucky by Millennium Farms, Vertical Oaks is out of the multiple stakes-winning Pollard’s Vision mare Vertical Vision.
MISS PREAKNESS STAKES QUOTES
Steve Asmussen, trainer Vertical Oak, winner
“She’s a nice filly. She got away from the gate cleanly. That’s been key for her. (Jockey) Jose (Ortiz) did a great job getting her away from the gate. I thought she ran very powerfully from there. I felt she was fast enough for this group off her last race. She had a rough trip the time before, so I was concerned about her confidence. This did exactly what I hoped it would.”
Jose Ortiz, jockey Vertical Oak, winner
“She broke well. I had to put her there because of the size of the field. I was in great position going into the turn. I was third in the clear. I waited and waited, then she jumped into the bit, so I knew I had a horse when I asked her.”
Ron Moquett, trainer Our Majesty, second
“She ran well. She got shuffled back a little bit there and kind of lost sight of what she was doing and took herself out of it. Whenever she got out, she goes to running again. First time out traveling so far, first time doing everything. I’m proud of her, and she got beat by a good filly. I’m pleased. She’s graded-stakes placed and we’ll get us a win – it’s coming.”
Ricardo Santana Jr., jockey Our Majesty, second
“It was a new track for her so she started looking around. Turning for home, when she figured she had to run, she came back running. She got a little confused today. We’ve got a lot of filly for the future.”
Al Stall Jr., trainer My Miss Chiff, third
“You always like to win. She did well for herself. She left on her toes and carried herself as far as she could go. All and all we are happy.”
Joel Rosario, jockey My Miss Chiff, third
“It was a good race. She got up there and was happy where she was and then it looked like we get second but we got third.”