Torrent is the slight 3-1 program favorite for the $ 125,000 Martha Washington Stakes for 3-year-old fillies Saturday at Oaklawn. Probable post time for the 1-mile event, the eighth of nine races, is 4:38 p.m. (Central). Racing begins at 1:05 p.m.
Trained by Ron Moquett of Hot Springs, Torrent exits a 2 ¼-length entry-level/optional claiming victory at a mile Jan. 20 at Oaklawn. The filly closed her 2-year-old campaign with a runner-up finish behind Perfect Wife in the $ 100,000 Trapeze Stakes Dec. 11 at Remington Park.
Perfect Wife, a front-running five-length winner of the Trapeze, is the 7-2 second choice in the program for the Martha Washington, which will be her 3-year-old debut.
Moquett said he “hopes” having a race over the track will benefit Torrent, a daughter of 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Blame and Oaklawn stakes winner Tidal Pool who races for her breeder, Little Rock, Ark.-based Westrock Stables LLC (Joe and Scott Ford). She is scheduled to break from post 6 under under Ramon Vazquez and carry 119 pounds.
“I always feel like I’m at a disadvantage whenever I ship somewhere, haven’t trained as much there as the other horses,” Moquett said. “So, I would hope having a race here is an advantage.”
Also entered in the Martha Washington from the rail out: Lovely Bernadette, Chris Landeros to ride, 122 pounds, 4-1 on the morning line; My Sweet Stella, Carlos Marquez Jr., 115, 15-1; Perfect Wife, Corey Lanerie, 122, 7-2; Chanel’s Legacy, Alex Birzer, 122, 12-1; Tap of War, Glenn Corbett, 115, 20-1; Queen Bernardina, Channing Hill, 115, 20-1; Ever So Clever, Ricardo Santana Jr., 119, 9-2; and Benner Island, Joe Rocco Jr., 119, 4-1.
The Martha Washington brings back Chanel’s Legacy and My Sweet Stella, 1-2, respectively, in the $ 125,000 Dixie Belle Stakes Jan. 21 at Oaklawn and Ever So Clever and Lovely Bernadette, third and fifth, respectively, in the $ 200,000 Golden Rod Stakes (G2) Nov. 26 at Churchill Downs.
“Perfect Wife’s a nice filly, Ever So Clever’s a nice filly,” Moquett said. “There’s some really nice horses in there. For this time of the year, usually there’s one or two decent ones, but this is a very contentious, good, well-meant, well-bred group of horses. You could see yourself winning it or running third and still be proud of the outcome.”
Perfect Wife is a winner of 2 of 3 career starts for trainer Kenny McPeek, who finished third in last year’s Martha Washington with Dorodansa. The 1-mile Trapeze was her first start around two turns.
“I don’t think they’ll give her an easy lead, but I think she’ll rate,” McPeek said. “She’ll sit off whatever speed – if she needs to – but we’ll let Corey decide.”
Four-time defending Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. rode Torrent last month, but opts for Ever So Clever, trained by the jockey’s major client, Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen.
Shortleaf Stable’s Benner Island will be making her 3-year-old debut for trainer Brad Cox after clearing her first allowance condition at a mile Nov. 26 at Churchill Downs. She was coming off a seventh-place finish in the $ 400,000 Alcibiades Stakes (G1) Oct. 7 at Keeneland.
“Lot of speed in the race,” Cox said of the Martha Washington. “She’s training really well. It’s her second start around two turns, but the first one was against Grade 1 company. I don’t know if there’s any Grade 1 winners in Saturday’s race. Time will tell.”
My Sweet Stella finished ninth in the Golden Rod for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who was using the 6-furlong Dixie Belle as a prep for the Martha Washington. Golden Rod winner Farrell returned to win the $ 150,000 Silverbulletday Stakes Jan. 21 at Fair Grounds in her 3-year-old debut.
Tap of War is also entered in a first-level allowance/optional claimer Sunday for trainer Kelly Von Hemel.
The Martha Washington offers 17 points, including 10 the winner, toward starting eligibility for the $ 1 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) May 5 at Churchill Downs.
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