The sister race to the Kentucky Derby, the $1-million, 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Oaks is held annually at Churchill Downs on the Friday before the Derby and restricted to 3-year-old fillies (young female horses). Eye on the Oaks, which will run through the 2015 edition of the race, takes a closer look at fillies who have won important races and could make an impact as we move toward the first Friday in May.
Include Betty’s two-race win streak was interrupted with a fifth-place finish in the Florida Oaks on the Tampa Bay Downs turf, but she rebounded from that effort to capture the Fantasy at Oaklawn Park and 100 Kentucky Oaks points. She secured her spot in the Kentucky Oaks starting gate with the win and is in sixth place on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard with all Oaks points awarded.
Include Betty broke her maiden in her fourth try and her first start as a 3-year-old. She competed against some high-quality fillies in her first three starts, including Silverpocketsfull, Forever Unbridled, Birdatthewire and Lassofthemohicans and fared pretty well, with second and third place finishes in her first two efforts.
On January 3 she finally broke through with a one-length victory at Tampa Bay Downs, and less than a month later she recorded her first stakes win in the track’s Suncoast Stakes at odds of 18.90-to-1. She earned Equibase speed figures of 84 in each of those wins.
Trainer Tom Proctor then decided to try the turf in the Grade 3 Florida Oaks, and she closed well into a slow pace. She improved her position from eleventh to fifth and made up more than nine lengths in a hurry. She also earned a then-career-best 94 speed figure, but she returned to dirt for her next start in hopes of an even greater improvement.
That next start came in the Fantasy Stakes, her first foray onto the Road to the Kentucky Oaks. Co-owner Brereton C. Jones is no stranger to the Oaks trail, with Ashland Stakes winner Lovely Maria on the trail this year and a pair of Kentucky Oaks trophies in his trophy case, with Proud Spell in 2008 and Believe You Can in 2012. Like Believe You Can, who partnered with Rosie Napravnik, Include Betty’s regular rider is a female with Rosemary Homeister Jr. having the call.
Include Betty went off at double-digit odds in the Fantasy for the third consecutive race, but she rewarded her backers with a thrilling come-from-behind victory. Off slowly as she is wont to do, Include Betty trailed the entire field by 2 ½ lengths early, a whopping 13 lengths from the front. The field condensed on the backstretch but Include Betty remained in last, 9 ½ lengths behind the leader.
Homeister asked the filly to pick it up as they began to turn for home and she responded willingly, but the pair ran into traffic and had to slow down and shift to the outside. Once in the clear she swept past the field a remarkable eight-wide and joined the leaders as they straightened away. Include Betty and Achiever’s Legacy battled down the stretch, with Include Betty gaining the advantage late and holding off a late surge from Oceanwave. The effort was good for a new career-high speed figure of 100 for Include Betty. Homeister thought the filly’s performance was even stronger than usual.
“This is an amazing little filly,” said Homeister. “I was in the 11 hole, but I wasn’t all that concerned because she is a closer. I had so much horse down the backstretch, which is unusual for her because she likes to drop way out … I just had so much horse. She really dug in to win the race.”
Include Betty is a deep closer, content to hang out near the very back of the pack in the early stages of the race, and when given her cue to run she responds willingly. A 14-horse field in the Oaks could prove troublesome but her jockey is not afraid to guide her to the far outside to escape any potential traffic issues. With several quick pacesetting-types probable for the Oaks the race could set up in her favor with a hot pace to close into. She shouldn’t have trouble with the distance, as all of her wins have come at a mile or longer, and her best win came at the farthest distance she’s raced. Her pedigree also indicates routing ability.
Snagged for $42,000 at the 2013 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Include Betty has proven a sharp buy. The daughter of Include is out of the Eltish mare Betty’s Solutions, who has thrown eight winners from her eight foals who have raced.
Include was a Grade 1 winner himself and an earner of nearly $1.7 million. His progeny have earned nearly $36 million as of April 13, and he’s an especially good sire of fillies with millionaires She’s All In and Panty Raid to his credit. He also sired multiple Grade 1 winning mare Include Me Out and multiple graded stakes winning horse Redeemed. His offspring have shown proficiency at longer distances, with She’s All In and Include Me Out winning at 1 1/8 miles and Panty Raid winning at 1 1/8 miles and 1 ¼ miles, among others.
Betty’s Solutions had a pair of wins including one at a mile and 70 yards, and so far she’s been a decent broodmare, with Grade 1-placed Blonde Fog, stakes-placed Francesca d’Gorgio and five other winners to her credit in addition to Include Betty. Francesca d’Gorgio’s only offspring to race is a stakes winner who is Grade 1-placed in England.
Include Out’s grandam Betty Lobelia was a multiple graded stakes winner whose progeny have produced Grade 1 winning sprinter My Trusty Cat as well as routing stakes winners Somethinaboutbetty and Petunia, and stakes-placed Dewey Square. Interestingly, Include Betty’s fellow Oaks hopeful Eskenformoney’s third dam is Betty Lobelia.
Farther back in Include Betty’s pedigree, third dam Fair Rosalind produced multiple graded stakes horses Crowned, victorious at 1 ¼-miles, and Best of Luck, twice a graded winner at 1 1/8 miles. Eleven other stakes winners trace back to her including Irish Grade 1 winner Frozen Fire, German graded winners Flamingo Star and Flamingo Paradise, and graded stakes-placed Feuerblitz. Fourth dam Thirty Years accounts for graded stakes winners Thirty Flags, Dixie Flag, Personal Hope and Devil’s Preacher.
Include Betty is an improving filly who, along with Lovely Maria, gives Brereton C. Jones a strong hand heading into the Kentucky Oaks. With a proven affinity for a route of ground and a pedigree with classy distance lovers, she is one to consider in the Oaks, especially if she goes off at long odds.