Flashy Gray & Ground Transport in on Saturday
It’s a busy weekend for West Point Thoroughbreds Partners in New Orleans. Flashy Gray is the morning line favorite in the $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), a major Kentucky Oaks prep. Just over an hour later, recent acquisition Ground Transport looks to stamp his ticket to the Kentucky Derby in the $1,000,000 Louisiana Derby (G2).
Flashy Gray comes into the Fair Grounds Oaks following a solid second place finish in the March 9 Honeybee (G3) at Oaklawn -- her first try around two turns. She earned 20 qualifying points toward the Kentucky Oaks.
A daughter of WPT’s first grade one winner Flashy Bull, she broke her maiden under the Churchill Downs twin spires by over 10 lengths in the fall before romping in her 3-year-old debut, an allowance race at Gulfstream Park. Below is her maiden win:
Conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, Flashy Gray was purchased by WPT and Tom Keithley at the 2012 Keeneland November Sale following her runaway win.
WPT president Terry Finley was at Payson Park over the weekend to watch Flashy Gray’s final work in preparation for the Fair Grounds Oaks. Here’s a look at the breeze:
“Bill (Mott) and I love that fact that if she were to run well on Saturday, we have over a month until the (Kentucky) Oaks,” says Finley. “Her breeze on Saturday was awesome -- she went 47 and change and the rider didn’t ask her much at all. She’s not the biggest filly in the world, but boy is she an efficient mover -- I wish they all moved like her.
“In the Honeybee the winner walked the dog on the lead and had a lot more two turn experience than our filly so I wasn’t too discouraged. Todd’s (Pletcher) filly (Unlimited Budget) will be tough, but I love the fact that it’s a seven horse field -- you don’t see many of those this time of year when connections are trying to get to the first weekend in May at Churchill Downs.”
It’s worth noting that five of the last eight Fair Grounds Oaks winners have gone on to win the Kentucky Oaks.
Flashy Gray breaks from post five in the field of seven with young up and comer Junior Alvarado aboard.
On Saturday, Ground Transport faces the stiffest challenge of his career when he takes on a full field of sophomores in the Louisiana Derby (G2). Precious Kentucky Derby points are up for grabs in Fair Grounds’ signature race of the four month meet. 100 points are awarded to the winner, 40 for second, 20 for third, and 10 for fourth.
The impressive fashion in which this colt won a February 23 allowance race over the New Orleans oval sparked Terry Finley and St. Elias Stable to purchase an interest in the son of Big Brown from the connections now known as Get Grounded Stable. Click here to watch the win.
Trainer Mike Stidham knows his colt will have to step up to compete with the big boys, but couldn’t be happier with how the son of the Broad Brush mare Extry has trained over the past few weeks.
"I hope (Ground Transport) is going to fit well in there," Stidham said. "We'll find out Saturday. His numbers will have to get a little better than they have been but we hope he's far enough along in his training to keep moving forward. In his last race (jockey) Mark Guidry made him wait a little longer before he made his move. Guidry was schooling him a little bit in that race. Now we just hope he keeps improving.”
Ground Transport showed his race readiness with a bullet six-furlong drill in 1.12:60 on Saturday with Stidham’s assistant Hilary Pridham in the irons.
He breaks from post 13 of 14 with veteran rider Guidry aboard.
“We certainly didn’t love it when they called out our horse’s name and said post 13,” said Terry Finley. “The good thing is, he has tactical speed and broke his maiden from a far outside post. He’s a legitimate longshot in here. It’s not like he needs to improve leaps and bounds to get his picture taken -- he just needs to take a step forward. We’re excited -- Partners are coming into town from across the country.”