What do a phaeton, chatterbox and condo have in common?

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Jen Caldwell

February 26th, 2015

The answer to that question is 50 Kentucky Oaks (G1) points – at least if you’re talking about Ekati’s Phaeton, I’m a Chatterbox and Condo Commando.

Actually, those three fillies have more than 50 points toward a starting berth in the Oaks due to prior victories/placings in the series of races making up the Road to the Kentucky Oaks. They catapulted to the top of the Oaks leaderboard thanks to wins last weekend on February 21, two of which were easy and the other a hard-fought score.

Here’s a breakdown of those wins:

Davona Dale S. (G2) – Gulfstream Park

I REALLY like Ekati’s Phaeton.

I liked her in the Old Hat S. (G3), I liked her in the Forward Gal S. (G2) and I liked her in this spot.

Not necessarily because I thought she towered over her rivals in regards to talent, but because the dark bay miss is such a hard-knocking filly. She gives 110 percent every time, even when she fails to cross under the wire first.

Ekati’s Phaeton didn’t fail in the Davona Dale, holding by a neck after setting the pace throughout the one-mile contest, for which she earned a career-best 104 BRIS Speed rating.

Sent off at 26-1, she made her backers very happy when holding off Birdatthewire and favored Eskenformoney following a stretch-long duel.

The Bill Kaplan trainee may not be able to deny those two in the 1 1/8-mile Oaks, but I don’t think anyone expected her to last a mile in the Davona Dale either. Ekati’s Phaeton gutted out the win on sheer determination, one of the reasons I like her so much.

While it’s always exciting to see a horse pull off for a huge victory, the battles really test them and Ekati’s Phaeton has won this one. We’ll see if she wins the war on May 1.

Photo: Adam Coglianese Photography

Rachel Alexandra S. (G3) – Fair Grounds

I’m a Chatterbox surprised everyone with an eight-length tour de force in the Silverbulletday S. on January 17, but no one was caught off guard by her 2 ½-length win in the Rachel Alexandra.

The chestnut miss showed remarkable versatility in the 1 1/16-mile affair, settling well back near the rear of the field instead of leading all the way like she did in the Silverbulletday. Sent widest of all rounding the final turn, the sophomore pulled away from her rivals before being geared down to cross under the wire first.

I’m a Chatterbox was awarded a 96 BRIS Speed rating for both her Silverbulletday and Rachel Alexandra wins.  The only knock against the filly at this point is her well-beaten fourth in the Golden Rod S. (G2) last November at Churchill Downs.

That loss could mean I’m a Chatterbox doesn’t like Churchill’s track, or it could be she was just having a bad day. Regardless, soon after the Kentucky-bred left trainer Kenny McPeek’s barn and joined up with conditioner Larry Jones (think Oaks winners Believe You Can & Proud Spell as well as Horse of the Year & champion older mare Havre de Grace).

I’m a Chatterbox is in the best shedrow possible for getting the Kentucky Oaks win, and is following  the same Fair Grounds path to the race as Proud Spell and Believe You Can.

Photo: Lou Hodges Jr./Hodges Photography

Busher S. – Aqueduct

Condo Commando was perhaps the most impressive winner last Saturday, but may be penalized the most by it as well.

Despite breaking in and bumping with Liberty Island to her inside, the dark bay miss sprinted to the lead and never looked back in the Busher. She easily romped under a hold from jockey Junior Alvarado before drawing off under a hand ride in the lane. It was 4 ¾ lengths back to second as Alvarado began wrapping up on the filly well before the wire.

Like I said before, watching one of these magnificent equines dominate a field is breathtaking, but in terms of fitness Condo Commando may have been better served with a challenge or two. She has lost once from five starts thus far, and her prior three wins came in double-digit fashion. In fact, her best BRIS Speed rating to date came in that one loss (102), though she did earn her second best (97) in the Busher.

It is entirely possible Condo Commando will continue on in this fashion, but Oaks day is testing on more than just the race level. The crowd, fanfare and excitement have taken more than one filly out of her game, and Condo Commando could use some experience overcoming obstacles to prepare her for the big day.

Photo: NYRA/Susie Raisher/Adam Coglianese Photography