Photo of Kentucky Oaks day 2013 courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
Trainer Todd Pletcher has a fair chance of winning his second consecutive Kentucky Oaks with Sweet Whiskey, a filly by Old Fashioned who has earned $163,000 in her four career starts. Her record consists of two wins and a runner-up effort.
Most recently, she won the Grade 3 Old Hat Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 4.
The Alto Racing-owned filly began her racing career in August of last year at Saratoga Race Course for Pletcher, who won the 2013 Kentucky Oaks with Princess of Sylmar. As the eventual winner, Sweet Whiskey established a quick tempo with fractions of :22.15 for the opening quarter and :45.08 for the half-mile. Her final time for the 5 ½-furlong contest was 1:02.81 – only three-tenths of a second off Fastus Cactus’ track record set in 2010.
After this auspicious start, she moved up to Grade 1 stakes company in the Spinaway and finished a disappointing fourth at seven furlongs. In her next outing, Sweet Whiskey ran a furlong less in the Grade 2 Matron Stakes. She finished second as the favorite, defeated by only one length by winner Miss Behaviour.
It was three months before she made her next start in the January 4 Old Hat Stakes. This race offered Sweet Whiskey with a good starting point for her 3-year-old season as it was contested at the same distance as the Matron. It was Javier Castellano’s first time in the saddle – the currently injured John Velazquez was aboard in all her previous starts. Sweet Whiskey’s race strategy also changed: she came up from fifth to take the lead into the final furlong and finished with a 2 ¾-length score. Her time for the six furlong race was 1:10.63.
Sweet Whiskey rallied to win the Old Hat Stakes at Gulfstream Park in her season debut on Jan. 4. (Photo courtesy of Leslie Martin/Gulfstream Park)
Sweet Whiskey’s sire, Old Fashioned, showed potential on the 2009 Triple Crown trail but an injury forced him into retirement before he could reach the Kentucky Derby. He now is showing similar promise in his stud career at Taylor Made Stallions, where he hopes to carry on the legacy of his deceased sire, Unbridled’s Song. With a solid first crop of 2-year-olds in 2013, he is poised to have a talented first batch of 3-year-olds.
Old Fashioned won all of his starts by a combined margin of nearly 23 lengths in his 2-year-old season. He continued his unbeaten career with his 3-year-old debut in the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes, winning by 3 ¼ lengths. Old Fashioned’s first defeat came in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes where he lost by 2 ¼ lengths, carrying five more pounds than winner Win Willy. His final start in an all-too-short career was the Grade 2 Arkansas Derby. After a pacesetting performance, he lost by a half-length to Papa Clem, who had a four-pound advantage over him.
Old Fashioned at Taylor Made Stallions in spring 2012. (Photo courtesy Bunny Hinzman)
Old Fashioned came out of the Arkansas Derby with a non-displaced slab fracture of his right knee, and underwent a successful surgery. Equine surgeon Larry Bramlage advised that is would be difficult for Old Fashioned to regain his elite form and the talented colt subsequently was retired to stand at Taylor Made Stallions.
Sweet Whiskey enters 2014 as Old Fashioned’s strongest representative of his first crop and presents the prospect of major Grade 1 victories in her future.