(Travel Column / Coady Photography & Courtesy of Churchill Downs)
From the Fair Grounds’ Media Team:
Travel Column two, Clairiere one. The rivalry continues. Churchill Downs awaits.
Part III of a budding rivalry between OXO Equine’s Travel Column and Stonestreet Stables’ homebred Clairiere went to the former in the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), as she took advantage of a decided race flow edge and easily held off the late rally of her nemesis by 2 ¾ lengths to set up the all-important fourth meeting in the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1), April 30 at Churchill Downs. Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots signature race for 3-year-old fillies has produced seven of the last 17 Kentucky Oaks winners and could build on that stat this year, as Travel Column and Clairiere head to Louisville as very likely the top two betting choices.
Florent Geroux — Travel Column (1st):
“As a 2-year-old she was a little hot blooded, she got a little bit excited,” Geroux said. “Over the winter from 2-to-3 she showed improvement in all areas, which is what you want to see.
“She put me in race and I wanted to stay as quiet as I could,” Geroux said. “She showed a very nice kick and put them away pretty easy. We are excited. We know she likes Churchill and her versatility is her greatest asset. She can stay close, but in the Golden Rod she was trapped and overcame adversity.”
Joe Talamo — Clairiere (2nd):
“The pace didn’t suit us today, it kind of hurt us, the winner was right off of it,” Talamo said. “Nonetheless, around the turn I was smiling because she was making up some ground pretty good. Pace makes the race and obviously Travel Column had a perfect trip. I’ll tell you what, I think any added distance will definitely be a help. She doesn’t do a thing wrong and I don’t think you’ve seen the best of this filly.”
Luis Saez — Li’l Tootsie (5th):
“I was comfortable with my position early but she just got a little tired. She was traveling nice but I knew the winner had a lot of horse. At the half-mile I tried to see what we had but we just couldn’t run with them. I knew it wouldn’t be that fast early so I tried to be close.”
Brad Cox — Travel Column:
“When you’re trying to win races like the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks you have to keep moving forward,” Cox said. “She’s a talented filly. She was an expensive yearling and it paid off. We can go to the last Friday in April. She puts a lot in her works, so I think six weeks will be a good thing for her.
Steve Asmussen — Clairiere:
“We knew we would be up against it just looking at the form. You couldn’t find a horse who wanted the lead. We are going to stay the course. We love her at a mile and an eighth and she’s run well at Churchill. If she stays healthy, we expect her to be in Kentucky for the Oaks.”
David Carroll, assistant trainer to Mark Casse — Souper Sensational (3rd):
“The plan was to try to be aggressive because we knew there was no speed in there. John (Velazquez, jockey) said she caught the break and set nice fractions. We were very proud of her. We just got caught (for second) at the end. This is something we can build on.”