Awesome Jill proves a great hunch play in Race 5 on 2015 Kentucky Oaks card
The many fans of Churchill Downs' own Jill Byrne, the "First Lady of the Kentucky Derby," would have been kicking themselves for not playing Awesome Jill, who drew in from the also-eligible list to spring a 20-1 upset in Friday's 5TH race on Kentucky Oaks Day. She gave jockey Shaun Bridgmohan a quick double, following his victory in the 4TH race aboard Mighty Souper.
One of only two entered for the $62,500 tag, Awesome Jill got her chance when the other, Elegant Model, was scratched. No one claimed the Agave Racing Stable runner.
Awesome Jill broke from the far outside post and had the tactical speed to stalk the early pace through splits of :23 2/5, :47 and 1:12. Staying on relentlessly in the stretch, the Michelle Lovell filly edged away. Elusive Fate, the 2-1 favorite, made a bid on the inside but could not get past.
Awesome Jill negotiated the mile in 1:36 4/5 and continued the day's trend of forwardly placed types faring well on the Churchill dirt. Her loyalists were rewarded with a $43.40 win payout.
The winner has an apt pedigree for Derby weekend. By 2009 Derby runner-up Pioneerof the Nile, sire of this year's Derby favorite American Pharoah, Awesome Jill is out of a mare by Lion Heart, the 2004 Derby runner-up.