Photos courtesy Hodges Photography
By Frank Angst, @BH_FAngst, Blood-Horse
Unlimited Budget continues to show limitless potential as the undefeated Street Sense filly appears poised for the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) after a 1 3/4-length victory in the $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) Saturday, March 30.
With the win at Fair Grounds, Repole Stable's Unlimited Budget secured the third graded stakes win of her career and stayed unbeaten in four starts. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Unlimited Budget registered her Fair Grounds Oaks win about an hour after Pletcher saddled Dreaming of Julia to a 21 3/4-length victory in the Gulfstream Oaks (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park.
Pletcher assistant Whit Beckman said Unlimited Budget, who secured a spot in the Kentucky Oaks with the victory, will be pointed to Churchill Downs.
"Tomorrow she will ship back to Florida and then they will make the final arrangements from there," Beckman said after the race. "But at this point I wouldn't see no reason why she wouldn't go to Kentucky."
Three fillies received most of the wagering support in the Fair Grounds Oaks and they quickly established themselves as grade I winner So Many Ways opened a clear lead through a quarter mile in :23.32 while Honeybee Stakes (gr. III) runner-up Flashy Gray raced second and Unlimited Budget third. Those three stayed in that order through a half-mile in :46.90.
Turning for home, West Point Thoroughbreds' and Tom Keithley's Flashy Gray and Unlimited Budget passed So Many Ways and hooked up in a stretch battle. About mid-stretch, Unlimited Budget edged clear although Flashy Gray did fight to the wire along the rail.
With Javier Castellano on board, Unlimited Budget completed the 1 1/16-mile Fair Grounds Oaks in 1:43.22. Since 2004, five Fair Grounds Oaks winners have gone on to win the Kentucky Oaks and Castellano believes Unlimited Budget could add to that string of success.
"I really like the horse," Castellano said. "She makes a pretty good effort today, a pretty good show; a wonderful filly."
Bred in Florida by Ocala Stud, Unlimited Budget closed last season with a win in the Demoiselle Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct Racetrack and opened her 3-year-old campaign with a victory in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds.
Favored Unlimited Budget returned $3.80 to win, $2.40 to place, and $2.10 to show; Flashy Gray $2.60 and $2.40, and 24-1 shot Seaneen Girl rallied for third, paying $5 to show. Rounding out the field were Promise Me More, So Many Ways, Blue Violet, and Ante Up Annie.
Out of stakes-placed Valid Appeal mare Unlimited Pleasure, Unlimited Budget is a half sister to grade III winners Jardin and Beacon Shine. Both those siblings are by Montbrook.
For an Equibase chart, click here.
UNLIMITED BUDGET IS NOW 4-FOR-4 IN HER CAREER