Don’t Leave Me should leave Oaks alone

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Jen Caldwell

March 22nd, 2015

Only two of the top four from Saturday’s Bourbonette Oaks (G3) are actually nominated to the May 1 Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs, and I really can’t see the other two getting a late nomination to the race.

Don’t Leave Me (Lemon Drop Kid) ran a great race to win by three parts of a length over Sweet Success (Candy Ride). The gray filly settled into a nice spot near the rear of the field as Sweet Success led the way on the backstretch.

Sharla Rae (Afleet Alex), the eventual third-place finisher, kept in close contact with Sweet Success, racing just off her flank. That filly ranged up to run in tandem with Sweet Success rounding the turn and Don’t Leave Me suddenly appeared in the picture just behind the leaders .

Sweet Success and Sharla Rae kept duking it out while Don’t Leave Me was forced to go widest of all, about seven off the rail, heading into the lane. The Malcolm Pierce trainee kept accelerating and ran down both Sweet Success and Sharla Rae, with Harlan’s Destiny (Harlan’s Holiday) taking fourth.

(Please go to 20:09 in video for Bourbonette Oaks)

Don’t Leave Me was impressive with the way she won, especially considering it was her first start since last September. However, the filly is not nominated to the Kentucky Oaks and has yet to try a conventional dirt track.

What Don’t Leave Me has done is win over both the Polytrack and turf at Woodbine. There are plenty of three-year-old filly stakes at that track in the upcoming months, and it is more feasible her connections will supplement to the 156th edition of the Queen’s Plate on July 5 than to the Kentucky Oaks.

As for Sweet Success, that one has plenty of room for improvement. The Bourbonette Oaks was her first stakes try, her first try on a synthetic track and her first attempt against winners. The bay filly just broke her maiden one race prior on February 8 at Gulfstream Park, and she earned a decent 89 BRIS Speed rating after just being collared late in Saturday’s contest.

Sharla Rae isn’t nominated to the Kentucky Oaks but does have winning dirt experience thanks to some sprint events during her juvenile campaign in California. Her connections could decide to take the plunge and put up the $1,500 to late nominate before April 8, but just as likely will keep their filly close to home in California.

Harlan’s Destiny is nominated to the Kentucky Oaks, but garnered only five points for her fourth-place effort on Saturday. She wasn’t facing state-bred rivals here and might need an easier spot than the Oaks, or even any of the remaining prep races she would have to run in to make the Oaks field.

Another three-year-old filly stakes took place on Saturday, with By the Moon (Indian Charlie) romping by four lengths in the Caesar’s Wish to earn a career-best 92 BRIS Speed figure.

The dark bay miss is already on the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard, thanks to a win in the Frizette S. (G1) last fall at Belmont Park, but continues to be knocked down on the list as more lucrative points races take place.

The way she drew off in Saturday’s one-mile affair indicates By the Moon should have no problem with the Oaks’ nine-furlong distance, so an appearance in an upcoming Oaks prep could very well be in her future to secure a spot in the starting gate on May 1.

Photo 1 - Don't Leave Me (Turfway Park/Coady Photography)
Photo 2 - By the Moon (Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club)