Caledonia Road eyes Kentucky Oaks after BC

Horse Racing

DEL MAR, Calif. — Caledonia Road emerged in good shape from her upset victory Saturday in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and likely will have about 45 days of light training before trainer Ralph Nicks starts plotting out a course for the Kentucky Oaks in May.

Nicks said Caledonia Road left Del Mar well before dawn Sunday for a return flight to her home base in south Florida. He said the filly’s swift and steady improvement bodes well for her prospects at 3.

“I don’t want to commit to any kind of timetable because anything can change,” said Nicks. “We’ll keep her at Gulfstream. The plan right now is to go easy with her for a while and eventually work backward from the Oaks. I imagine we’d have two or three races.”

His first Breeders’ Cup triumph was a very emotional one for Nicks, who said he nearly quit training about five years ago as he spun his wheels traveling a circuit that consisted primarily of the major Kentucky tracks. He was among the first outsiders to commit to stabling year-round in south Florida when the majority of annual dates shifted to Gulfstream Park in 2013-14. Nicks now has a thriving stable of 55 horses.

“I’d pretty much had it,” he said. “So, to be here right now enjoying this after where I’d been, it’s an unbelievable experience.”

A bay Florida-bred by Quality Road, Caledonia Road is owned by the Zoom and Fish Stable Inc. of Luke Paiement, Charlie Spiring, and the Newtown Anner Stud of Maurice and Samantha Regan. All are equal one-third partners, with Newtown having bought in privately after the filly finished second in the Grade 1 Frizette last month.

Caledonia Road gave Mike Smith his 26th Breeders’ Cup victory, extending the Hall of Famer’s record for the most wins among jockeys. The filly earned an 82 Beyer Speed Figure with her 3 1/4-length triumph in the 1 1/16-mile Juvenile Fillies.

Meanwhile, Alluring Star will be regrouped at Santa Anita by Bob Baffert after forcing all the pace and gamely holding off 30-1 shot Blonde Bomber for second. The Grade 1 Starlet on Dec. 9 at Los Alamitos is a possible next option for the Exchange Rate filly, but there’ll be no Starlet for Moonshine Memories, who incurred her first defeat in four career starts when fading to seventh as the 2-1 favorite for trainer Simon Callaghan.

“I expect we will wait,” said Callaghan.

Among the Juvenile Fillies disappointments were the Mark Casse-trained trio of Wonder Gadot (sixth), Gio Game (ninth), and especially Heavenly Love (11th), who was the 7-2 second choice after romping in the Grade 1 Alcibiades in her previous start.

“We thought Wonder Gadot ran well for her first start on dirt,” said Norman Casse, assistant to his father. “We’re throwing out the efforts of the other two, being down on the rail.”

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