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Friday, May 3, 2013
Princess of Sylmar rules Oaks

By Evan Hammonds
Bloodhorse



King of Prussia Stable's Princess of Sylmar pulled off a 38-1 upset in the May 3 Longines Kentucky Oaks. The 3-year-old daughter of Majestic Warrior roared past juvenile filly champion Beholder inside the sixteenth pole for the half-length score.

Unlimited Budget rallied for third, three lengths back, edging heavy favorite Dreaming of Julia by a head.

Princess of Sylmar, along with Silsita, Unlimited Budget and Dreaming of Julia, is trained by Todd Pletcher. Pletcher has five entrants in tomorrow's Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

Mike Smith was up, winning his first Kentucky Oaks.

Dreaming of Julia, breaking from post eight, was squeezed hard at the start by Rose to Gold from post nine.

"She lost all chance," said Pletcher after the race. "She got creamed at the start and then was stopped at the three-eighths pole. I thought she showed a lot of courage."

Midnight Lucky grabbed the early lead from post 2 and was tracked by Beholder (post 3) as the field went by the stands the first time. The early pace was swift, :22.84 and :46.79 as Midnight Lucky and Beholder led the way down the backstretch. They were tracked by Silsita along the rail and Unlimited Budget. The field tightened some as they headed to the far turn after six furlongs in 1:11.34. Beholder, with Garrett Gomez up, collared Midnight Lucky for the lead and quickly opened up on the field. Dreaming of Julia came with a wide move, and Unlimited Budget got into the mix but Princess of Sylmar was moving best of all while motoring down the center of the track.

The final time was 1:49.17, quick, but not as fast as Bird Town's stakes mark of 1:48.64 set in 2003.

Princess of Sylmar had two stakes wins and one graded stakes placing to her credit which made her a 38-1 shot in a field considered the best for the Oaks in many years. The field included last year's champion juvenile filly Beholder; Unlimited Budget, unbeaten in four starts and winner of the Fair Grounds Oaks; Dreaming of Julia, winner of the March 30 Gulfstream Park Oaks by 21 3/4 lengths; Midnight Lucky, unbeaten in two starts including the Sunland Park Oaks by eight lengths; and the three-for-three Close Hatches, the Gazelle Stakes winner.

Princess of Sylmar, bred in Pennsylvania by Ed Stanco and out of the Catienus mare Storm Dixie, paid $79.60, $29.40, and $14. Beholder returned $9 and $5.60. Unlimited Budget paid $3.80 to show.

The only filly to pay a higher price in the Oaks was the 47-1 Lemons Forever in 2005.

The winner made her first two starts at Penn National, breaking her maiden second time out by 19 lengths going a mile. Moved on to Aqueduct, she dusted a short allowance/optional claiming field to end her 2-year-old campaign Dec. 13. At 3 she won the Jan. 5 Busanda Stakes by 7 1/2 lengths at a mile and 70 yards and added the Busher Stakes Feb. 2 at 1 1/16 miles. In her graded stakes debut she was second, beaten 3 1/4 lengths by Close Hatches in the Gazelle.

Dreaming of Julia was followed in the Oaks by Midnight Lucky, Pure Fun, Close Hatches, Rose to Gold, Seaneen Girl, and Silsita.

The Oaks attendance was 113,820, second largest in Oaks history topped only by the 116,046 on hand in 2010.