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Tarifa set for Churchill Downs following battling G2 Fair Grounds Oaks victory


Tarifa punched her ticket for the Kentucky Oaks as she overcame early keenness and a persistent challenge from Our Pretty Woman to win the G2 Fair Grounds Oaks on Saturday, 23 March.

Successful in the G2 Rachel Alexandra Stakes at the New Orleans course in February, Tarifa was quickly into her stride, although the Brad Cox-trained filly was lit up heading into the first turn after being squeezed for room between Our Pretty Woman and Midsummer March.

Tarifa settled better in second behind Our Pretty Woman entering the back straight before closing under Flavien Prat to join the leader at the top of the lane.

The Godolphin filly opened up a slender advantage soon after, but Our Pretty Woman rallied strongly, with little to separate the two approaching the final half-furlong.

Tarifa outduelled Our Pretty Woman in the closing strides for a three-quarter length success, with V V’s Dream more than three lengths back in third.

Brad Cox said: “I would like to thank His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and the whole Godolphin team. I’d like to say that Tarifa is settling down and relaxing, but it didn’t work out very well in the first turn.

“She was still able to overcome it, although she really needs to chill out and relax early on. We are going to be facing a larger field next time, but we will continue to work with her – she is a young filly who is still learning and I’m proud of what she accomplished today.

“Tarifa is not a real big filly, but she has handled everything we have asked of her this winter and hopefully she can take another step forward.”

Flavien Prat added: “Tarifa showed some early speed but then was very keen going into the first turn. I had some trouble getting her back to me, but she relaxed well once we got down the back and she made a good run down the lane.

“It’s going to be a different deal in the Kentucky Oaks, when there will be a lot of horses around her, but hopefully she will have learned a lot from this race and can still improve.”