Trainer Chad Brown and jockey Flavien Prat, who team up with morning-line favorite Zandon in the Kentucky Derby (G1), captured Friday’s $250,000 Modesty (G3) to kick off the Kentucky Oaks Day stakes action at Churchill Downs. Even-money favorite Bleecker Street went last to first, overtaking stablemate Fluffy Socks, to remain undefeated in six starts.
A longtime fixture at now-shuttered Arlington Park, the Modesty was just transferred to the new Churchill turf course, and trimmed from 1 3/16 miles to 1 1/8 miles. Brown’s extensive resume in the filly and mare turf division had hitherto lacked this feature, but Bleecker Street took care of that in style.
Peter Brant’s colorbearer was anchored at the rear as Mona Stella set leisurely fractions of :25.18, :50.31, and 1:14.55 on firm ground, with the forecast rain yet to materialize. The stalking Curly Ruth and Hendy Woods were the first to pounce on the weakening pacesetter in the stretch, only to be outkicked by Fluffy Socks.
As Fluffy Socks got the jump on Bleecker Street, the favorite’s perfect record appeared to be in jeopardy, especially as she had to pick a path. Yet Bleecker Street deployed her trademark turn of foot in the final furlong. Diving to the inside of a drifting Fluffy Socks, the gray won going away by a half-length in 1:50.10.
Hendy Woods was the same margin back in third. Lake Lucerne, who was on hold in traffic, finished with interest a further 1 1/2 lengths astern in fourth. Next came She Can’t Sing, Pass the Plate, Curly Ruth, Stand Tall, and Mona Stella.
Brown admitted to having some concern as the paceless race unfolded.
“With both my horses far back with that pace, I was quite worried,” the horseman said. “Down the back side, actually, Irad (Ortiz Jr. on Fluffy Socks) was able to extract himself off the fence and move up a couple of spots. And I saw Flavien kind of zero right in behind Irad.”
“Bleecker Street ran amazingly well, and you have to remember, Fluffy Socks is back after three weeks’ rest from a wide trip at Keeneland. These horses are pretty close, Bleecker Street had more rest, but an undefeated horse, 6-for-6, she’s hard to fault….So she’s a remarkable talent. Without a doubt, it was her best race yet.”
“I didn’t feel like going around Irad,” Prat revealed. “I felt like my only chance to catch Irad was to split horses and she was there for me. I thought it was a great performance by Bleecker Street to win that race because we went slow early and I was further back than I wanted to be.”
Bleecker Street has now bankrolled $434,700. The daughter of Quality Road has relentlessly climbed the class ladder with every start, earning graded stakes laurels at Tampa Bay Downs in the Feb. 5 Endeavour (G3) and March 12 Hillsborough (G2).
Bred by Branch Equine in Kentucky, Bleecker Street was purchased for $400,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling. Her dam, the stakes-placed Exchange Rate mare Lemon Liqueur, hails from the family of Grade 1 turfiste Gabriel Charles.