May 29, 2023

Oaks points up for grabs in Dogwood at Churchill

Four Graces
Four Graces wins an allowance race at Churchill Downs (Coady Photography)

The extended Road to the Kentucky Oaks series winds its way through the home of the Oaks on Saturday when the Churchill Downs card is highlighted by the $100,000 Dogwood (G3) for 3-year-old fillies.

After the Oaks’ postponement to September, additional point-scoring opportunities were announced. The 7-furlong Dogwood carries Oaks qualifying points of 20-8-4-2 to the top four finishers.

Although the race lacks a standout, both Four Graces and Edgeway figure to attract significant support. Both bring 2-for-3 records into the Dogwood, with Four Graces exiting a May 16 allowance win over the track and trip and the stakes-placed Edgeway entering off a first-level allowance win at Oaklawn.

She’s an extremely talented filly,” said trainer Ian Wilkes about Four Graces, whose dam is a half-sister to multiple graded stakes winner McCracken. “With her family we had high hopes she’d turn out well on the racetrack and when she won on debut we thought we could have something special.”

Ain’t No Elmers was impressive winning her first two starts at Fair Grounds going short, but seemingly didn’t stay two turns when a weakening fifth in a 1 1/16-mile allowance at Oaklawn last out. Bayerness, a distant seventh in the Davona Dale (G2) in late February, could bounce back at the site of her Nov. 30 allowance win for trainer Cherie DeVaux, who’s won with three of her first seven starters at the Churchill meet.

Also lining up are Magic Dance, who won the Debutante S. at Churchill last June, and Naughty Thoughts, a veteran of 16 starts who captured the Wide Country S. at Laurel in February.

Coming off of a sub-par performance in his last start, Bobby’s Wicked One will look to bounce back in the $100,000 Aristides, a 6-furlong dash for older horses.

A Grade 3 winner and runner-up to champion Mitole last season in the Churchill Downs (G1), Bobby’s Wicked One was dominant in two stakes wins at Fair Grounds over the winter. However, the son of Speightstown figuratively collapsed in the Count Fleet Sprint H. (G3), trailing the field of 11 by 47 lengths after pressing the early pace.

“We are still puzzled by his last race,” trainer Al Stall said. “We know he is a much better horse than that. It’s still puzzling he ran as poorly as he did but sometimes horses don’t like the surface at Oaklawn.”

Stakes newcomer Volatile has won three of four for trainer Steve Asmussen and comes off a 7 1/2-length allowance win at Oaklawn. Honest Mischief, Heartwood, and Manny Wah are also among the field.