Shedaresthedevil Upsets Kentucky Oaks
RSS Feeds Tuesday, September 8, 2020

On an otherwise quiet day devoid of its usual throng of raucous fans, the Churchill Downs paddock looked curiously populated ahead of the Sept. 4 running of the $1.25 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1).  

Owners—and a few media personnel—unwilling to have their enthusiasm for the American classic hampered by the looming presence of COVID-19 emerged from their socially distanced seats sporting their fascinators and masks with equal pride. With a little imagination and the right camera angles, it could have been any other Oaks in any other year.

Shedaresthedevil and Florent Geroux exit the paddock en route to victory in the Kentucky Oaks

That sense of suspended reality continued as the fillies lined up in the starting gate. Minutes later, no mask could hide the smiles of Shedaresthedevil's connections as the sophomore was crowned the winner of the 146th Kentucky Oaks. 

"I've been a basket case ever since the filly crossed the line. I've spent more time crying than anything," said Autry Lowry Jr. of Big Aut Farms, which owns the filly in partnership with Qatar Racing and Flurry Racing Stables. "I knew she was a very tough filly, and for her to come out on top was just absolutely amazing."

Sent off at odds of 15-1, Shedaresthedevil was not among the favorites entered in the 1 1/8-mile dirt test. Bettors put their faith in grade 1 winners Gamine and Swiss Skydiver, two fillies who—true to form—put in impressive efforts.

At the break it was Shedaresthedevil, guided by Florent Geroux, who got the jump on Gamine and Swiss Skydiver. But the filly soon found herself relegated to second as Gamine powered to the front of the field and established a one-length lead running well off the rail. Swiss Skydiver tracked the pace behind in third, slightly boxed in by Shedaresthedevil to her outside. 

Clicking off fractions of :23.39 and :47.92 through the half-mile, Gamine, ridden by John Velazquez, looked well in control of the race as the final turn came into view. Shedaresthedevil bided her time and kept the leader in her crosshairs as the field left the turn. 

With Gamine's leading margin cut down to a half-length, Swiss Skydiver and jockey Tyler Gaffalione dropped back and swung wide into the five path. Following her lead, Shedaresthedevil moved into the open four path just outside of Gamine, split horses, and managed to edge past Gamine at the eighth pole. Swiss Skydiver ran hard down the outside in a final attempt to take the lead but could not quite catch Shedaresthedevil, who turned back the late challenge and crossed the wire 1 1/2 lengths in front. 

The final time for the race on a fast track was 1:48.28. 

"She had a great trip. She broke very sharp, and I was able to stalk Gamine all the way," Geroux said. "That was the plan, but sometimes plans don't always work out. Perfect plan today. The only question was whether or not I was going to be able to run her down. My filly ran an amazing race. It's been an amazing day."

Swiss Skydiver finished second, 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Gamine in third. The race marked a 1-2 finish by progeny of the More Than Ready  stallion Daredevil, who began his career at WinStar Farm but now stands in Turkey.

In the aftermath of the race, Swiss Skydiver's trainer, Kenny McPeek, said he was pleased with his filly's effort even if the outcome wasn't what he'd wanted. 

"She ran super. (Shedaresthedevil) has been training extremely well," McPeek said. "I've been watching her. That's horse racing. There's no guarantees. She's been training super. I actually wasn't as worried about Gamine as I was about another filly running a bang-up race. That's what happened."

It was another 5 3/4 lengths back to Speech in fourth, followed by Tempers RisingHopeful GrowthBayernessDonna Veloce, and Dream Marie to complete the field. 

"This is why you wake up every morning, to get to win races like this," said trainer Brad Cox, who won the 2018 Oaks with champion Monomoy Girl. Geroux, who was aboard Monomoy Girl for that Oaks win, capped a banner Friday for Cox. He also rode Monomoy Girl to victory one start before the Oaks in the La Troienne Stakes Presented by Oak Grove Racing and Gaming (G1). 

"This filly has been really impressive coming into the race, and when she breezed with Monomoy Girl a couple weeks ago, we knew how well she was training," Cox said. "There were some tough fillies in the Oaks this year with Swiss Skydiver and Gamine. We wanted to come into this race with, I'd say, (with) juice left in the lemon and felt like we hadn't squeezed her too much. Obviously, it was a good move. She responded well today and (I'm) very, very proud of her.

"We are so thrilled to win a race like this, again, in our backyard. This has been a phenomenal day with Monomoy Girl winning the La Troienne, then winning the Oaks with Shedaresthedevil. These are the days you dream of." 

For his part, Staton Flurry of Flurry Racing said the win exceeded any expectations he had for Shedaresthedevil. 

"It's just a blur, honestly," Flurry said. "Everybody that asked, 'Hey, how do you think you're going to run? Are you going to win?' I told everybody, 'If we run anything better than fourth, it's a bonus. If we run worse than fourth, it's a disappointment.' So it's a bonus.

"We're tickled to death. Never dreamed six months ago we would be sitting here. We knew we had a nice filly after a couple of Oaklawn races. But to come in and beat Swiss Skydiver, who crushed us in the Fantasy (G3) at Oaklawn, and Gamine, who is phenomenal, maybe one of the best fillies we've seen in a long, long, long time, to come in and beat both of those … I don't think I would have dreamed it."

Shedaresthedevil was bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm out of the Congrats mare Starship Warpspeed, who has an Outwork filly named Jemison, a yearling Speightster filly, and an Exaggerator filly foaled this year—and was bred to Uncle Mo for 2021. Flurry Racing Stables and Autry Lowry's Big Aut Farms purchased Shedaresthedevil for $280,000 from Hunter Valley Farm's consignment to the 2019 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale, and prior owner Sheikh Fahad Al Thani's Qatar Racing remained in on the filly.

In five starts this year leading up to the Oaks, Shedaresthedevil showed a clear pattern of consistency. She won the March 7 Honeybee Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park, her first stakes score, and placed third next out in the May 1 Fantasy Stakes at the same track. Two starts later, she took the July 8 Indiana Oaks (G3) at Indiana Grand before finally catapulting to the top level Friday. She now boasts a 5-2-2 record from 10 starts with earnings of $1,245,768. 

"It's unbelievable. I knew she was an unbelievable filly," Lowry said. "This is a very tough race, in my opinion. It's probably one of the toughest in the last 10 years or so." 

With celebrations well underway, Lowry said his only lament was that fans did not have the opportunity to attend the Oaks and share in the thrill of Shedaresthedevil's victory.

"It's been a very challenging year. I was hoping there would be fans here today," Lowry said. "That would have been amazing to be able to enjoy this with my family. But nonetheless, it's still priceless. It's been an unbelievable experience. 

"I don't know what the rest of the night holds, but there's a lot of wine drinking going on right now. It's absolutely delicious, too."


-Article courtesy of the BloodHorse

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