From the Indy Grand Media Team:
After riding all Sunday afternoon at Chicago’s Arlington Park, jockey Sophie Doyle drove to Louisville for Fair Grounds Oaks winner Street Band’s final timed workout for Saturday’s $200,000, Grade 3 Indiana Oaks at Indiana Grand.
No way she was going to have someone else on the Larry Jones-trained and co-owned 3-year-old filly for a workout, let alone the one before Street Band — upon whom Doyle earned her biggest win as a jockey in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks — makes her first start since the Kentucky Oaks.
“She means a lot. As a jockey, they come along once in a lifetime,” Doyle said. “She’s definitely doing that for me… As a female jockey, too, it’s always hard to come along a really good one like this and keep the mount on it. It’s fantastic to ride for Larry Jones and have great owners like MyRacehorse, that bought a part of her to get new fans into racing.”
The filly has her quirks, but Street Band and Doyle have become in tune with each other. For instance, Doyle can’t go to Street Band’s stall when she first gets to Jones’ barn at Churchill Downs because the filly will get antsy, knowing the presence of the jockey means business.
Street Band powered five-eighths of a mile in 59 4/5 seconds, the second-fastest of 10 workouts at the distance at Churchill on Monday, pleasing both Doyle and assistant trainer Corey York, who oversees the Ellis Park-based Jones’ Louisville operation.
“The workout was tremendous. She was strong in my hands — everything you’d want in a horse going into another graded stakes,” Doyle said. “She really stretched out all the way to the wire and the same through the gallop-out. I was really pleased with her.”
“She’s definitely not an easy one to get along with,” York said of Street Band, “and it’s not really her fault. Her whole family has been like that. She’s actually one of the better ones. It’s good that Sophie has been with her for so long and knows how to ride her, her tendencies, her aggressions. If somebody else were to get on the horse and she was a little rank, maybe they get a little too strong in her mouth. Where Sophie has been on her enough that she knows that’s normal. It’s good to have a good little team. Sophie’s been getting on her since December, maybe before that. So they know each other, which is always good.”
After losing her debut last summer by 28 lengths at Delaware Park, Street Band won an Ellis Park maiden race by 7 1/4 lengths. The filly steadily improved over the winter at the Fair Grounds and off a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Rachel Alexander, put it all together to win the Fair Grounds Oaks by 3 3/4 lengths over a field that included Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress and Oaks runner-up Liora. But in the Kentucky Oaks, Street Band was in tight early and got shuffled back, having to come wide and ultimately finishing seventh in the field of 14.
“She still finished; she still hung in there down the lane,” Doyle said. “She never gave it up. She kept trying. It was a tough bunch of fillies to run against. I wasn’t disappointed in Street Band at all. She’s a young horse and she’s just going to keep on progressing.”
Jones and his wife, Cindy, bred and co-own Street Band with Ray Francis of Henderson, Ky., with Medallion Racing and MyRacehorse.com acquiring minority interests in the filly before the Kentucky Oaks.
“It’s another family we’ve had a long time,” Jones said. “We know they get better with age. So the filly is naturally progressing and what her genetics are telling her to do. And she’s doing really well right now. In the Oaks, we had the widest trip, the longest trip of anybody. She ran well. It wasn’t her best race by any means, but she ran well considering what she gave up.”
(Trainer Tom Amoss and jockey James Graham / Photo Courtesy of the Fair Grounds)
Amoss seeking first Indiana Derby with Roiland
Tom Amoss — who tied for the 2018 Indiana Grand trainers title and won the crown outright in 2017 — tries to win the $500,000, Grade 2 Indiana Derby for the first time Saturday, sending out James and Mary Durlacher’s Roiland. The son of Successful Appeal is a deep closer whose biggest credential is his third-place finish in the Fair Grounds’ Grade 2 Risen Star, in which the top two finishers that day went on to win the Preakness Stakes (War of Will) and Kentucky Derby (Country House, on the disqualification of Maximum Security).
“It’s a bit of a surprise that Mr. Money is going in that spot,” Amoss said of the Indiana Derby. “For Roiland, we need a race that has a lot of speed in it. He has a big come-from-behind style. His best race to date is probably the Risen Star. That race, which is at the same distance as the Indiana Derby, has us very encouraged. But pace is important, and we’re hoping for a lot of that Saturday night.”
While Mr. Money has natural speed, Amoss cheerfully acknowledged that’s not what he had in mind as far as having a lot of pace in the Indiana Derby.
“No,” he said with a laugh about Mr. Money. “He’s a good horse. No, I’m not happy about it at all. He’s certainly the prohibitive favorite and deserves to be.”
Roiland closed to be fifth, beaten 4 3/4 lengths, in the new $300,000 Oaklawn Invitational held May 4, same day as the Kentucky Derby.
“We gave him a month off, let him be a horse out in the field and brought him back in,” Amoss said. “We’ve trained him up to this race, and we’re hoping that with a little bit of a break — his first break ever since he came to the racetrack — can make a difference when he starts his second half of the year.”
Amoss said he’s also considering entering Drinking Dixie in the Indiana Oaks, with the idea of looking at the field before committing to running. Entries for Saturday’s showcase Indiana Grand card will be taken Wednesday. A Delta Downs allowance winner, Drinking Dixie was second in a small stakes at Prairie Meadows in her last start. She’s owned by Gayle Benson, the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner whose late husband, Tom Benson, bought Dixie Brewing Co. in 2017 with the intention of bringing the iconic brand back to its New Orleans roots.
“She’s a developing 3-year-old filly,” Amoss said of Drinking Dixie. “What we’d like to see is a race that has a lot of developing fillies, rather than proven horses. Now we know the filly that won the Fair Grounds Oaks will be in the race, and she’s the favorite. But we want to see what else is in there.”
(Brad Cox / Photo Courtesy of the Fair Grounds)
Cox loaded for undercard stakes
Trainer Brad Cox, who ranks fourth in North America with 124 wins this season and fifth with $7.5 million in purse earnings for 2019, doesn’t have a horse in the Indiana Derby or Oaks but is bringing four strong contenders to the four $100,000 undercard races. Those include two horses — Steve Landers’ Pioneer Spirit in the Michael G. Schaefer Memorial on dirt and Dot Matrix in the Warrior Veterans on grass — who won those stakes last year.
Ten Strike Racing’s 6-year-old Dot Matrix has run only once this year, returning from a layoff spanning almost nine months to take a Churchill Downs third-level allowance race with an $80,000 claiming option, for which he ran.
“Dot Matrix is a New York-bred, but he’s done well in the Midwest,” Cox said of the eight-time winner. “He’s run one race this year, ran big and has had plenty of time to recover. Pioneer Spirit just ran a few weeks ago in the Evangeline Mile, had kind of a rough trip and was third. Hopefully with a good trip, he’ll be tough.”
Pioneer Spirit lost the Evangeline Mile by a neck for his third straight close stakes defeat while coming in third.
Mylady Curlin, winner of Pimlico’s Grade 3 Allaire DuPont Stakes in her stakes debut in May, seeks to extend her victory streak to four in the Mari Hulman George Memorial.
“She’s had plenty of time to recover from that,” Cox said of the nose victory in the DuPont. “She’s doing well, and I think it should be a good spot for her.”
Limari will go in the Indiana General Assembly Distaff at 1 1/16 miles on grass.
“She was third at Churchill in the Mint Julep,” Cox said. “She’s going really well. I think she should have won the Mint Julep. It just wasn’t her trip. She normally breaks sharp but she broke flat-footed and never got involved early, came running and just couldn’t get there in time.
“I know they’re all training well, and I think they’ll be competitive. We have no action in the Oaks or Derby this year, which we wish we had something. But I think all four of these horses are live.”
Shaun Bridgmohan will ride all four horses.
Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing continues through Wednesday, Nov. 6. Racing is conducted Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday at 2:15 p.m. and Saturday at 6:15 p.m. More information about the season is available at www.indianagrand.com.