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Abel Tasman becomes Baffert's third KY Oaks (G1) winner
Friday, May 5, 2017
Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Abel Tasman - Coady photo
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China Horse Club and Clearsky Farms’ Abel Tasman rallied from far back and then held off a late bid from Daddy's Lil Darling to win the $1,000,000 Kentucky Oaks (G1) on a cold and rainy Friday afternoon at Churchill Downs. 

Breaking from post 13 in the 14-horse field of 3-year-old fillies, Mike Smith elected to take his filly over to the rail and trailed the field going into the first turn. Meanwhile on the front end, Paradise Woods and Miss Sky Warrior blazed through the first quarter-mile in :22.79 seconds and posted a half-mile of :46.24. 

Abel Tasman moved out of last with about a half-mile to run, and by the time she hit the top of the stretch, she was in sixth place on the outside with clear sailing in front of her. She hit the front with about a furlong to run, winning by 1 1/4-lengths in 1:51.62 for the 1 1/8-miles on a sloppy racetrack.

“It’s just exciting to win the Kentucky Oaks, I’m so happy for the China Horse Club,” Baffert said. “They trusted me with the filly. And ‘Big Money’ Mike (Smith), what can you say? Incredible ride. We knew she was doing really well coming into this race. We got a nice, hot pace and it worked out. About the three-eighths pole he started moving and I thought we might have a shot. She’s a beautiful filly to train. She shipped beautifully and we knew we had a chance.” 

The victory was worth $564,200 and increased Abel Tasman’s earnings to $912,060 with a record of 7-4-2-0. Among her wins was a victory in the Starlet S. (G1) last year.

Baffert first tasted victory in the Oaks with future Hall of Famer Silverbulletday in 1999, and then Plum Pretty in 2011.

Baffert 2013