Gorham, You Know Too hoping for “one for the home team” in Oaks
by Doug McCoy
Saturday marks the 66th running of the Grade III Delaware Oaks, and through the storied history of the three-year-old fixture, some of the most gratifying victories have come from horses owned, trained, or bred in the Mid-Atlantic region, or using Delaware Park as home base.
Dating back to the 70s when Henry Clark sent out the likes of Light Hearted and Plantain to capture the Oaks under the colors of Christiana Stable, locally based runners have been in the spotlight in a number of Oaks renewals. Bishop’s Ring (1980) and Zonk (2001) from Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farm are on the list of Oaks winners, and more recently Proud Spell (2008) was one of seven locally based runners to take the Oaks between 2007 and 2016, a number most recently including 2016 champ Dark Nile.
Mike Gorham will attempt to add You Know Too to that list on Saturday when he sends out the Colonel John filly for the stiffest test of her young career in the mile and a sixteenth route. Gorham, whose reputation as a consummate horseman with a shrewd sense of his runners’ abilities is well known, takes a pragmatic approach regarding his lightly raced star’s chances in her first race around two turns Saturday.
“We’ve thought since the very beginning that she (You Know Too) was going to be better the longer she raced, and you’ve got to be able to race middle distances if you’re going to race against top-flight fillies as a 3-year-old,” he explained.
You Know Too showed plenty of speed in her three races as a 2-year-old, winning her debut, running second in an overnight stake at Delaware Park, and then pressing the pace through the early stages of the Grade I Spinaway in her final start at two. Gorham said the nature of two-year-old racing dictated he get his filly speed-oriented last year, but his approach to training You Know Too changed once she came back as a 3-year-old.
“When he brought her back from the farm earlier this year, she had filled out, put on some weight and basically had advanced from a youngster to a young adult,” the horseman observed. “We’ve also changed our approach to her training, working more on getting her to relax early then kick on through the last part of her works with an emphasis on finishing out strong.”
You Know Too’s final serious drill for the Oaks bears out Gorham’s comments. You Know Too worked a solid six furlongs in 1:14 1/5 and then galloped out in 1:27, going the final eighth in :12 4/5.
You Know Too’s last race also illustrated the new and improved running style employed by the filly. Allowed to settle early under Alex Cintron, You Know Too raced in mid-pack through the early going as the leaders smoked through an opening quarter in 21.78 seconds. She then ranged up into the stretch and raced past the leaders to win with authority by five lengths.
It was just the type of effort Gorham was looking for, and one he feels sets his star up nicely for her first race around two turns.
“I talked to Alex (Cintron) and we agreed we wanted the filly to get used to getting some dirt in her face, as well as finishing strong through the stretch,” Gorham, a New England native, said. “We feel she accomplished both of those objectives. Now we’ll just see how she handles herself with good horses Saturday.”
You Know Too is 10-1 on the morning line. Her career-top Beyer of 72 is well below some of her rivals. Her accomplishments pale next to the two graded winners in the field, It Tiz Well (8-5) and Actress (5-2).
“I know on paper it looks like she may be a bit overmatched against some of those in the field but we feel she’s a quality filly, we’ve got the advantage of training up to the race over the home surface, and she’s doing really well leading up to the race,” Gorham said. “I wouldn’t run her if I didn’t think she had a chance. Now we’ll just have to see how the things play out. It would sure be nice to win one for the home team.”