The 136th running of the Grade 1 $584,300 Kentucky Oaks, run on a glorious Friday afternoon at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., provided a thrilling finish with Blind Luck defeating Evening Jewel by a nose on the wire.
Blind Luck, who went off as the heavy 6-to-5 favorite, settled into her customary spot at the back of the pack early in the race under jockey Rafael Bejarano, before making her move around the turn for home and closing over ten lengths to reel in the 13-to-1 long shot.
“She has only one style. She’s always run like this,” Bejarano said immediately after the race on Bravo’s national TV coverage. “She improved a lot, especially in this race. She was a little nervous in the gate. I let her relax. I was way behind everybody, but I knew we were ok.”
It looked like Blind Luck would blow on by after getting on terms with Evening Jewel about a hundred yards before the wire, but jockey Kent Desormeaux and Evening Jewel dug in and battled back on the inside, only losing the bob on the wire.
This was a repeat of the Grade 1 Las Virgenes earlier this year at Santa Anita, when Blind Luck’s nose also got to the wire ahead of Evening Jewel, who has now finished first or second in eight of her nine career starts.
“She thinks she has to do that I guess. I wish she wouldn’t do that, but it worked out today,” said Blind Luck’s trainer and co-owner Jerry Hollendorfer of his filly’s penchant to wait until the final moments of a race to pass her rivals.
Another one of her co-owners, Mark DeDomenico, who is a heart surgeon, echoed those sentiments by saying, “I’ve seen this over and over again, but she keeps winning.”
As far as plans for her next race, it seems Blind Luck will not follow in the path of last year’s Oaks winner Rachel Alexandra, who went on to take on males in the Preakness Stakes two weeks later.
“I have to talk it over with my other partners, but I would say we probably wouldn’t do that,” said Hollendorfer. “This was our target race. We kind of made up our minds not to try to think of other things other than this race. This was a real good race, well contested by everybody and we were fortunate to get it.”
Blind Luck has now won seven of her ten career starts, with earnings of $1,419,630.
Tidal Pool, who ran second behind Blind Luck in their previous start at Oaklawn Park in the Grade 2 Fantasy Stakes, held on to round out the trifecta as the 9-to-1 fourth choice.