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Bill Mott's Puca on pace for Kentucky Oaks

April 18, 2015

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Article via The Courier-Journal, Jonathan Lintner

Talk of a rapid pace has dominated discussion of how this year's Kentucky Derby may play out with favorites American Pharoah, Dortmund and Carpe Diem all possessing a nose for the early lead.

The May 1 Kentucky Oaks' setup remains relatively unknown, though, and that's just fine with an assistant trainer to Bill Mott who watched Donegal Racing's Puca breeze Saturday morning at Churchill Downs. Four furlongs in 48.20 with stablemate Japan, a 3-year-old colt who finished up just ahead, ranked 10/57.

"This filly, if you look at all her races, she sits mid pack or a little bit off it," Mott's Kenny McCarthy said of Puca, who finished second last time out in Aqueduct's Grade II Gazelle Stakes won by Condo Commando, a top Oaks contender.

"So it's one of those things where, I think you can over-think pace sometimes in both the Derby and the Oaks. I think you just have to let your horse dictate where they're most comfortable."

Puca, a Big Brown filly, broke her maiden Oct. 1 at Belmont. She went on to finish off the board in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile fillies and fourth in the Feb. 21 Davona Dale Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

"Looking at her, I was pretty impressed with her myself," McCarthy added.. "I thought that work this morning was perfect. We were sort of looking for how she'd handle the track. She's obviously galloped over it for a week now and been fine. But until you really set them down on it -- she did it awfully easy and galloped out strong. That's what we like."

Also on the track Saturday was Gulfstream Park Oaks winner Birdatthewire, whose five furlongs in 59.60 ranked 4/57, as well as Santa Anita Oaks runner-up Luminance, whose bullet half mile in 46.20 was fastest of 57 on track at Churchill Downs.

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