Land Over Sea in search of reprieve in Fair Grounds Oaks

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

March 21st, 2016

How much is too much of Songbird? For owner Paul Reddam and trainer Doug O'Neill, the connections of three-year-old filly Land Over Sea, five consecutive losses to the undefeated champion is evidently enough.

Rather than stay out west to face Songbird again in the Santa Anita Oaks (G1) two weeks from now, Land Over Sea travels inland to New Orleans for Saturday's $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), a 1 1/16-mile event that will offer 100-40-20-10 qualifying points for the Kentucky Oaks (G1) to the first four finishers.

Since breaking her maiden on the turf at Del Mar last July, Land Over Sea has been quite the trouper playing the role of nominal opposition to the division leader. If the dazzling filly were not around much would be made of Land Over Sea, who finished well ahead of the rest as runner-up in the Chandelier (G1), Las Virgenes (G1), and Santa Ysabel (G3).

Land Over Sea might make the most of this opportunity to avoid seeing Songbird's backside, but the locally-based fillies are not pushovers. The top two from the February 20 Rachel Alexandra (G3),Venus Valentine and Midnight On Oconee, are in the mix, as is that race's beaten favorite Stageplay.

Two-for-two on fast dirt, Venus Valentine's 74-1 upset was seemingly improbable on paper. Though she trailed most of the way, she did run along the best part of the track -- the inside -- that day, making up nearly six lengths in the final furlong as the leaders staggered home. Midnight On Oconee perhaps ran the best racing three- and four-wide on both turns yet still finishing within a length of the winner.

It was the second straight stakes placing for Midnight On Oconee, who had also completed the exacta in the $150,000 Silverbulletday in January. That race's winner, Grade 2-placed Stageplay, was the 3-5 choice in the Rachel Alexandra but was very wide throughout on a day when that was not the place to be. Loyal backers of hers will likely get to invest at the highest odds of her career on Saturday.

Also among the eight taking their shot are Starlet (G1) winner Street Fancy, who was eased late in the Las Virgenes in her sophomore bow, and Dream Dance, who placed in the Pocahontas (G2) and $84,000 Rags to Riches, the latter behind Stageplay, as a juvenile. In addition to Stageplay, trainer Steve Asmussen also saddles the progressive Adore, a four-length allowance winner at Oaklawn last out.

(Benoit Photo)