Finest City heads Midlantic-breds on Oaks day
by Frank Vespe
One year after a Maryland-bred, Cathryn Sophia, won the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, the $1 million fixture for sophomore fillies won’t have a single horse bred in the mid-Atlantic region in the starting gate this Friday.
In fact, on a day when the Oaks is one of a half-dozen added-money events at Churchill Downs, just two Midlantic-breds are scheduled to compete in stakes races there.
The good news: one of them is favored.
Pennsylvania-bred Finest City is the 6-5 morning line favorite in the Grade 1, $300,000 La Troienne Stakes, which is Friday’s fifth race, with a post time of 12:35.
The Ian Kruljac trainee, who won last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint to to secure the Eclipse Award as champion female sprinter. has split a pair of 2017 races. She won easily in the Grade 2 Santa Monica at Santa Anita back in January but was second, to Vale Dori, in the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Stakes in March at the same track. The La Troienne, like the Santa Margarita, is a two-turn race, though at the slightly shorter 1 1/16-mile distance.
Finest City, a daughter of City Zip, was bred by HnR Nothhaft Horseracing, LLC. Mike Smith will ride.
Two races later, in the Grade 3 Twin Spires Turf Sprint, Partly Mocha, an eight-year-old who couldn’t break his maiden at Charles Town but has since become an accomplished turf sprinter, will try his luck against a field that includes stalwarts like Pure Sensation and Green Mask — the show horses in the last two runnings of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.
Partly Mocha is a Half Ours gelding who was bred in West Virginia by Mr. and Mrs. John Michael Link. Trained by Mike Maker for Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Partly Mocha has nine wins, and $455,392 in purse earnings, from 37 career starts. He won a pair of stakes at Sam Houston to start his season before most recently running fourth in the Grade 2 Shakertown at Keeneland, a race in which Green Mask was second.
Partly Mocha will have Julien Leparoux in the irons and is 15-1 on the morning line.