FAIR GROUNDS OAKS | PURSE: $500,000 | 3-YEAR-OLD FILLIES | GRADE 2 | 1 1/16 MILE
Repole Stable's Unlimited Budget was bet down to 4-5 favoritism over Flashy Gray and lived up to that status to hand trainer Todd Pletcher a second Oaks win Saturday when taking the Grade 2, $490,000 Fair Grounds Oaks by 1 3/4 lengths.
Earlier on the day, Pletcher saddled Dreaming of Julia to victory in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks for owner/breeder Stonestreet Stables.
Jockey Javier Castellano had the call on Unlimited Budget for the first time and guided her to a tracking spot on the outside of Flashy Gray and leader So Many Ways through splits of :23 1/5, :46 4/5 and 1:11 4/5 at the New Orleans venue.
Unlimited Budget took command of the race in the lane after those three raced in tandem around the far turn, but couldn't quite shake loose from Flashy Gray, who kept up the pressure to her inside. The Street Sense filly eventually pulled off the 1 3/4-length win over her tenacious rival, finishing up 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track in 1:43 1/5.
Unlimited Budget returned $3.80, $2.40 and $2.10 to her backers.
"A beautiful trip," Castellano said. "That's what I was looking for today. I mean, phenomenal I really like this horse a wonderful filly."
Flashy Gray was game in defeat as the 8-5 second choice, 2 1/4 lengths clear of Seaneen Girl in third on the wire. Promise Me More took fourth by a neck over So Many Ways, while Blue Violet and Ante Up Annie completed the order of finish.
"We were in good position and I'm just trying to keep my filly as close as we can," said Flashy Gray's jockey, Junior Alvarado. "When Castellano went by me I thought we might finish second but far back. But she kept fighting and stayed on to the end."
Unlimited Budget is now four-for-four in her career after taking her racing debut at Aqueduct on November 9 by 9 1/2 lengths. The bay lass then added a 1 1/4-length victory in the Grade 2 Demoiselle to her resume in her juvenile finale just 15 days later.
The Florida-bred showed up at Fair Grounds for her sophomore bow on February 23 in the Grade 3 Rachel Alexandra, and easily passed that test when scoring by 3 3/4 lengths. Saturday's win in the Fair Grounds Oaks awarded her 100 points on the new Road to the Kentucky Oaks points system, for which she has now earned 160 to move on top of the leaderboard.
Bred by Ocala Stud, Unlimited Budget has more than earned back her purchase price of $475,000 as an OBS March Sale selected two-year-old with $610,200 in lifetime earnings.
She is out of the stakes-placed Valid Appeal mare Unlimited Pleasure, who is a half-sister to Grade 1 hero Outofthebox and stakes victor Ruff and Ready, as well as the dam of dual Grade 2 winner Tackleberry and last year's Grade 2 Sanford third Onetwentyeight.
Unlimited Budget is herself a half-sister to Grade 3 scorer Beacon Shine and Grade 3 diva Jardin. This family has also produced two-time Grade 1 winner and sire Mighty Appealing.