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Pretty Mischievous proves very good in G1 Kentucky Oaks


Pretty Mischievous secured a first Godolphin victory in the G1 Kentucky Oaks as she overcame a wide trip to post a sensational win at Churchill Downs, USA, on Friday, 5 May. Burdened with the widest draw of stall 14, this season’s G2 Rachel Alexandra Stakes winner showed good early speed from the stalls and soon settled in fifth for Tyler Gaffalione. Pretty Mischievous, wearing first-time blinkers, continued to race three-wide down the back before cruising up around Flying Connection, Defining Purpose and Dorth Vader with three furlongs to race. The Brendan Walsh-trained filly disputed the running towards the centre of the course at the top of the straight before kicking on into a three-length lead approaching the final furlong. Gambling Girl made a late dart but could not catch Pretty Mischievous, with the Into Mischief homebred holding on gamely for a neck victory. Godolphin’s other runner in the nine-furlong feature, Wet Paint, rallied from mid-division in the straight and narrowly lost out to The Alys Look in a photo for third. Michael Banahan, Director of Bloodstock, Godolphin USA, said: “We were very high on Pretty Mischievous from the day she went into Brendan’s barn. Through the winter, we probably thought that she was our best filly in any of the barns we have horses in. Then Wet Paint ran through the series at Oaklawn and was a very deserving favourite here. We were just so excited that we had two bullets to target the race. “We had two fillies with complementary styles of running – one that was going to be just off the pace and another that was going to come from off the pace. We felt that we had everything covered if they were going to be good enough. “We were maybe a little disappointed in the Fair Grounds Oaks, when we thought we were going to win by five or six at the top of the stretch. Brendan decided to put a set of blinkers on her and she worked well in them. She responded the way Brendan wanted her to and she did the same again in the race today. “She was probably going too easily today and I would have loved for someone to have taken her to the eighth-pole before she had to take it up because it was a long way home. “We haven’t won an Oaks before. We were second with Little Belle a long time ago, so to come in here with two live chances with homebreds, it means everything to us. Sheikh Mohammed has developed a beautiful broodmare band in the United States and I think we are reaping the rewards with the horses we have had over the last couple of years. “We will see how Pretty Mischievous and Wet Paint come out of the race, but the programme is fairly well set up throughout the year. We will look at some of the high-end races in New York over the summer and maybe California in the fall. I think both fillies will improve again on what they have done today and we have two of the best three-year-old fillies in the country.” Brendan Walsh said: “It’s just a feeling of delight that the whole thing came together. We have planned this for a very, very long time – we hit a couple of bumps in the road but nothing major and we were able to make a few adjustments. “Thanks to everyone on my team, who did great and tireless work. Michael [Banahan], Dan [Pride] and everyone at Godolphin, who are just the greatest people to work for. “Tyler [Gaffalione] did a great job, not just today but he has worked this filly from the get-go. He worked her three times before today’s race so that we would get it right. It’s one of the few occasions when everything came right on the big day. “Tyler got her in as tight as he could on the turn and held his position well. She was wide the whole way and hats off to her for overcoming that. Good horses and champions do that. “I have had a very close association with Godolphin my whole life. I spent nine winters in Dubai, I worked at Al Quoz as a rider and it was like working for an all-star team. To now have the opportunity to train the all-stars, it’s the stuff you dream of as a kid. I can’t thank everyone enough.”