Land Over Sea sails to victory in Fair Grounds Oaks
Unusual and welcome at the same time, as the chestnut miss drew off in the stretch of the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) to finally make a reappearance in the winner’s circle.
Land Over Sea broke from the far outside in the eight-filly field and found herself three wide on the first turn as Midnight on Oconee led the way through the opening half-mile in :23.84 and :47.75. Jockey John Velazquez allowed his late-running mount to settle in the rear of the field before giving her the signal nearing the final bend.
Land Over Sea responded while four wide this time and came under a hard ride in upper stretch. The Doug O’Neill trainee ran down Adore, who had taken command in the lane, and drew off to be 4 1/2 lengths clear on the wire in a final time of 1:44.74 for 1 1/16 miles over the fast Fair Grounds dirt.
Sent off the 9-5 favorite, Land Over Sea paid $5.60 for the win. She finally managed to beat Songbird thanks to this score, at least on the Kentucky Oaks (G1) leaderboard, courtesy of the 100 points awarded to the winner via the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series of points of races.
The Fair Grounds Oaks was the first race in the Championship portion of the series to give away 100-40-20-10 to the respective top four finishers. Combined with the 28 points Land Over Sea already earned for placing in the Chandelier (G1), Las Virgenes (G2) and Santa Ysabel (G3), that was enough to catapult her to first on the leaderboard and send Songbird tumbling to second.
Dream Dance jumped from 29th to eighth on the leaderboard. Adore debuted with 20 points for finishing third after Dream Dance stuck her neck in front on the wire. Northwest Tale also made a first appearance on the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard with 10 points.
Land Over Sea earned her first stakes win in this spot and doubled her bankroll to $472,000 to go along with an 8-2-4-1 career record. The chestnut lass ran second in her debut at Los Alamitos last July then garnered a first win when trying the turf at Del Mar just 17 days later.
From that moment on Land Over Sea faced a juggernaut named Songbird, running third to her in the Del Mar Debutante (G1), second in the Chandelier, seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), and second in her two races this year, the Las Virgenes and Santa Ysabel.
Bred in Kentucky, Land Over Sea is out of the Pulpit mare Belle Watling. That makes her a half-sister to War Story, who placed in last year’s Louisiana Derby (G2), Risen Star (G2) and Lecomte (G3) at Fair Grounds. The gelding would go on to finish 16th in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and third in the West Virginia Derby (G2).
Land Over Sea’s third dam, Honest and True, captured the 1980 edition of the Fair Grounds Oaks prior to filling the third spot in that year’s Kentucky Oaks. Honest and True later foaled champion Epitome, herself the dam of Grade/Group 2 hero Essence of Dubai. This female family also includes dual French champion Green Forest who, like Essence of Dubai, found success at stud.
Land Over Sea photo courtesy of Amanda Hodges Weir/Hodges Photography)
FAIR GROUNDS OAKS QUOTES
John Velazquez, jockey Land Over Sea, winner: “I was on the outside and I didn't want to come out of there rushing. She broke a little slow anyway, so I took advantage of that and saved some ground on the first turn. On the backstretch a horse was backing up, so I went around that one and then by the three-eighths I was sitting third and from there it was all her. When I came down the lane, she switched leads and showed the quality she is and what she was chasing out in California (Songbird).”
Doug O’Neill, trainer Land Over Sea, winner: “It went great. She ran so well. I loved where she was all the way around. It did look like Adore wasn't going to give up the lead, so I got a little worried for a second that we were going to run second again to a nice filly. Johnny kept after her and Land Over Sea loved the long stretch and really took advantage of it. There was no quit in her. So grateful for Reddams for giving me this filly and the opportunity.”
Jack Sisterson, assistant trainer Land Over Sea, winner: “A lot of credit goes to the filly. She has a great will to run. And a lot of credit to Songbird showing how good she is. The (Kentucky) Oaks (G1) is the plan. I'll let Doug and the Reddams decide, but it's good to go on to Kentucky with a confident win like that.”
Brian Hernandez Jr., jockey Dream Dance, second: “She ran great. The race kind of fell apart like the last one and she has a great kick. We were on the fence the whole way. We had a little traffic trouble, but came running. It's encouraging for her to run this big.”
Neil Howard, trainer Dream Dance, second: “I will say that she always gives 110%, but that exceeded our expectations off the layoff. She ran great.”
Julien Leparoux, jockey Adore, third: “Good trip and got to the lead pretty easily, but she got a little tired.”
Javier Castellano, jockey Northwest Tale, fourth: “I liked the way she ran today. She rated behind the horse in the lead, and the winner was much the best today.”