The Fair Grounds spur of the Kentucky Oaks trail is one of the most fruitful, and the final race of that series happens Saturday, March 25, with the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2)! The race covers 1 1/16 miles on the dirt and drew a field of five promising three-year-old fillies to compete for the crown. It is the fourth and final points race for the Oaks in New Orleans, following the Untapable, the Silverbulletday, and the Rachel Alexandra (G2).
The five sophomore fillies will not only compete for a rich purse, but also 100-40-30-20-10 Road to the Kentucky Oaks points, meaning that each finisher will get at least some points. The winner ensures herself a spot in the Kentucky Oaks, and in reality, even the second-place finisher is assured a place in the starting gate in the run for the lilies.
This race has been an excellent prep for the Kentucky Oaks, with winners including Untapable (2014), Believe You Can (2012), Rachel Alexandra (2009), Proud Spell (2008), Summerly (2005), Ashado (2004), Silverbulletday (1999), Blushing K. D. (1997), and Tiffany Lass (1986) all parlaying wins in New Orleans’ premier Kentucky Oaks prep into a blanket of lilies.
Fair Grounds Oaks 2023 Information
Race Date: Saturday, March 25, 2023
Track: Fair Grounds Race Course
Post Time: 2:08 p.m. Pacific Standard Time
Distance: 1 1/16 miles
Where to Watch: FanDuel TV
Where to Bet: TVG.com and FanDuel Racing
Fair Grounds Oaks Odds
This is the field for the 2023 Fair Grounds Oaks. Though the race only drew a field of five, it includes several of the marquee names on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks. These are the runners, including post positions, trainers, jockeys, and morning lines.
|1||Southlawn||Norm Casse||Reylu Gutierrez||8-1|
|2||Christian d’Oro||Steve Asmussen||Joel Rosario||15-1|
|3||Pretty Mischievous||Brendan Walsh||Brian Hernandez, Jr.||8-5|
|4||The Alys Look||Brad Cox||Luis Saez||2-1|
|5||Hoosier Philly||Tom Amoss||Edgar Morales||2-1|
Fair Grounds Oaks Prep Results
Four of the five runners last ran at Fair Grounds, with three coming from stakes company. Pretty Mischievous has won two of the prep races on the Fair Grounds spur of the Oaks trail: she stalked and pounced to win the Rachel Alexandra by three-quarters of a length in her first start since winning the Untapable back in December. Hoosier Philly, the odds-on favorite in the Rachel Alexandra, was a well-beaten third. The Alys Look is the other Fair Grounds Oaks prep winner; she last ran in January when she won the Silverbulletday by a length, also in stalking fashion.
Southlawn most recently romped by eight lengths in a first-level allowance at Fair Grounds on February 17, her first start at age 3. The only one who did not last race at Fair Grounds is Christian d’Oro, who was most recently a well-beaten fourth behind Flying Connection in the Island Fashion at Sunland Park, the local prep for the Sunland Park Oaks.
Fair Grounds Oaks Contenders
These are the contenders in the 2023 Fair Grounds Oaks, organized by post position:
Southlawn: Southlawn broke her maiden in a washed-off race at Ellis and struggled in stakes and allowance races through the fall. But, a winter freshening appears to have done her good, as she tracked the pace and romped by eight lengths as a 10-1 longshot in an allowance at Fair Grounds last month. Reylu Gutierrez stays in the irons from that, and if she runs back to that race second off the lay, she fits well at an appealing price.
Christian d’Oro: She looked promising for New Mexico stalwart Todd Fincher in her first three starts, but was a well-beaten fourth behind her stablemate in the Island Fashion last out. Instead of dialing back in class, she gets a barn change to Steve Asmussen and steps up to an even tougher class of horses. Her speed should play well in a short field, and she has been able to battle and stay on against New Mexico sprinters, but she now faces much tougher company and has not yet proven she wants a route.
Pretty Mischievous: This consistent filly is four-for-five in her career, with her only loss coming in the Golden Rod (G2) last November at Churchill Downs. However, she has won two of the Fair Grounds preps since, including turning the tables on Hoosier Philly in the Rachel Alexandra and beating The Alys Look in the Untapable. She has tactical speed, she is a well-proven and consistent two-turn horse, and she looks strong coming into the Fair Grounds Oaks.
The Alys Look: She has freshened since the Silverbulletday, the first time off longer than about five weeks that she has taken since beginning her career in October of last year. She took three starts to graduate, but she has come into her own in two-turn races at Fair Grounds. She will have to prove she can come back as sharp as she was when winning the Silverbulletday, and she has tables to turn on the classy (and more-recently raced) Pretty Mischievous, but she has excellent pace versatility and connections who show up in the biggest races.
Hoosier Philly: Undefeated in three starts as a juvenile, she was bet down to odds-on in the Rachel Alexandra, but did not have the best start and was no match for Pretty Mischievous, who she faces again here. She ran well enough in both the Rags to Riches and the Golden Rod to prove that the distance suits her, and her connections were confident enough to not only nominate her to major filly races, but also the Triple Crown. A return to the speed she showed in her two-turn races at two makes her a threat, though at a short price, that may not be the most appealing betting proposition.
Fair Grounds Oaks Past Winners Past Performances
The Rachel Alexandra is the leading prep for the Fair Grounds Oaks; six of the last ten winners of this race last raced in the Rachel Alexandra. Unlimited Budget (2013), Untapable (2014), I’m a Chatterbox (2015), and Farrell (2017) came out of wins in that race, while Street Band (2019) was fourth and Travel Column (2021) was second. Note that none of the last ten winners of the Fair Grounds Oaks have last raced in the Silverbulletday; the recent winners who did race in the Silverbulletday raced in the Rachel Alexandra as well, and then the Fair Grounds Oaks.
Two other recent winners came out of stakes races. Echo Zulu won the race in her sophomore debut, her first start since winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). Land Over Sea (2016) won off of a second-place finish in the Santa Ysabel (G3).
The other two winners of the Fair Grounds Oaks in the last ten years won it in their stakes debut, and both came out of allowance victories. Chocolate Martini (2018) came from an allowance-level victory at Fair Grounds, while Bonny South (2020) came from Oaklawn.
Fair Grounds Oaks Undercard
The Fair Grounds Oaks is the 11th race on Saturday’s 15-race card at Fair Grounds, one of eight stakes races scheduled on the card. The 12th and featured race is the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2), one of the most important races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. The card also features a pair of graded races for older runners: handicap males contest the New Orleans Classic (G2), and older turf horses take the spotlight in the Muniz Memorial Classic (G2).
Ungraded stakes include the $100,000 Tom Benson Memorial for older turf fillies and mares, as well as three undercard events for Louisiana-bred horses. With excellent fields all day long, it is a perfect time to watch FanDuel TV and place your bets with FanDuel and TVG!
Fair Grounds History
The first races at what was then the Louisiana Race Course were organized by Bernard de Marigny and others in 1839 and 1839. It was reopened as Union Race Course in 1852 but closed after five years because the nearby Metairie Course proved more popular at the time. It was renamed yet again in 1859 as the Creole Race Course, then was first given the name Fair Grounds in 1963. It continued to host racing during the Civil War.
That was not the end of the closing and opening of the course, though. It closed again after the Civil War when Metairie reopened. Still, some members of the Metairie Jockey Club broke away, re-formed the Louisiana Jockey Club, and restarted racing at Fair Grounds in 1872.
Racing was banned in New Orleans in 1908, though it returned in 1915. Though the track was in jeopardy after being sold to developers in 1940, racing-minded investors saved the track from certain destruction in 1941 and ensured horse racing would continue after World War II.
A stable period followed, and in 1981, the turf course was laid and then the facility was sold in 1990. Following a devastating fire, a new grandstand had to be built in 1994 at a cost of $27 million, a grand reopening taking place on Thanksgiving Day 1997.
Although further damaged by Hurricane Katrina, another Thanksgiving Day reopening occurred in 2006 and since then, the track has run on an even keel and remains popular with traditional racegoers.
Fair Grounds Oaks FAQ
Q: When is the Fair Grounds Oaks?
A: The 2023 Fair Grounds Oaks will be run Saturday, March 25, at 5:08 p.m. Central Daylight Time. It is the 11th of 15 races on the Fair Grounds card.
Q: Where is the Fair Grounds Oaks?
A: It takes place at Fair Grounds in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Q: Which trainer has the most wins in the Fair Grounds Oaks?
A: Two trainers have won the Fair Grounds Oaks four times. Larry Jones, whose wins came between 2008 and 2019, does not have an entrant this year. Steve Asmussen has won in 2003, 2005, 2014, and 2022. He does have a runner this year: Christian d’Oro, the likely longest shot in the field.
Q: Who is the favorite for the 2023 Fair Grounds Oaks?
A: Pretty Mischievous, trained by Brendan Walsh and ridden by Brian Hernandez, Jr., has been named the 8-5 morning-line favorite off of a strong victory in the Rachel Alexandra last out. She should go off favored, though both Silverbulletday winner The Alys Look and Golden Rod winner Hoosier Philly should not be far behind in the wagering
Q: Who is the best Fair Grounds Oaks jockey?
A: Two jockeys have won the Fair Grounds Oaks three times. Donnie Meche, no longer actively riding, earned his wins between 1997 and 2003. Florent Geroux won the race in 2015, 2020, and 2021; he is still active, but does not have a mount in this year’s edition. Among jockeys named in Saturday’s race, Joel Rosario is the only one who has won the race before; he has done so once.
Q: Who won the 2022 Fair Grounds Oaks?
A: Echo Zulu won the 2022 Fair Grounds Oaks for jockey Joel Rosario and trainer Steve Asmussen. Rosario and Asmussen unite again this year with Christian d’Oro.