Early favorite R Heat Lightning has been withdrawn from consideration for Friday’s Grade I Kentucky Oaks with a knee injury.
“We detected heat in her right knee this morning and she was slightly off at the jog,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “It’s unfortunate. She’s a very talented filly and has been training great.”
Handicappers are not going to like this, as R Heat Lightning looked to be squarely overbet and I was looking to take a stand against her.
She was awesome winning the Grade II Gulfstream Oaks last month, but Pletcher’s horses that run huge and then ship from the Florida track typically don’t fare well at Churchill Downs in the spring meet. Favored Travelin Man’s flop in the Derby Trial on Friday was the latest example.
That leaves Joyful Victory as the likely favorite for the Kentucky Oaks. She is trained by Larry Jones, who also conditioned the ill-fated filly Eight Belles in the 2008 Kentucky Derby. Joyful Victory has been a star on the backside this week, according to reports, and is the clear choice right now.
I will be at Wednesday’s post draw in Louisville (aired live on Versus at 5 p.m.) and will have much more news from the barns.
Five Derby horses worked out Monday morning on a sloppy Churchill Downs track, including Nehro, who went an easy 51.2-second four-furlong work for trainer Steve Asmussen. The Arkansas Derby runner-up is one of four A.P. Indy offspring in the race who are looking to snap the 0 for 25 Derby funk of the Hall of Fame sire.