LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Less than two weeks ago, trainer Laz Barrera was bemoaning the ill luck that has followed him this year.
He was feeling much better Friday, however, as he helped jockey Jose Santos dismount from Buryyourbelief, who had just won the $200,000-added Grade I Kentucky Oaks in splendid fashion here at Churchill Downs.
The 3-year-old New York-bred daughter of Mr. Prospector and True Chic had given Barrera his second straight triumph in the Oaks. Barrera also trained last year's winner, Tiffany Lass.
Buryyourbelief, only the fourth betting choice in a strong field of eight fillies, was perfectly rated by Santos, who held her in third place behind Chic Shirine and even-money favorite Up the Apalachee for most of the 1 1/8 miles, then took the lead turning for home.
With a Kentucky Oaks-record crowd of 62,689 on its feet, Buryyourbelief pinned her ears back and reached the wire in 1:50 2/5, 2 3/4 lengths ahead of fast-closing Hometown Queen, ridden by Pat Day. Super Cook, with Angel Cordero, hung on for third, another two lengths back.
Sent off at 8-1, Buryyourbelief paid $18, $6.20 and $5 for winning the 113th Oaks, the traditional companion race to today's Kentucky Derby. Hometown Queen paid $3.80 and $3.40, and Super Cook's show price was $4.40.
Buryyourbelief's victory was only her third in 11 starts, but she has never finished out of the money. Her victory was worth $155,415 to her owner, Dana Bray Jr. of New York.
"This is an exceptional filly," Barrera said. "As good or maybe better as any I've trained. She's had a little bad luck by finishing second so often (five times), but this makes up for some of those."
Chic Shirine, Up the Apalachee and Buryyourbelief were fastest out of the gate, with the first two exchanging the lead twice in the first six furlongs before Santos moved Buryyourbelief in front as they turned into the stretch.
After that, it was her race all the way.
Up The Apalachee, who, on April 11 finished first in the Grade I Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park but was disqualified for drifting out in the stretch, tired noticeably and ended up seventh under Randy Romero.
Very Subtle, winner of the Fantasy on Up the Apalachee's disqualification, stumbled coming out of the gate and was not really a factor. Jockey Chris McCarron briefly got her up to second in the turn for home, but she faded again and finished sixth.
"She didn't have any excuse other than the fact that she stumbled," McCarron said.
Friday's record crowd wagered an Oaks-record $6,645,722.
Manila, the champion turf horse of 1986, scored a three-length victory in the inaugural running of the $150,000 Early Times Turf race, run immediately before the Oaks.
Taking the lead at the top of the stretch, Manila pulled away and completed the 1 1/8 miles on Churchill Downs' new turf course in 1:48 4/5. The 4-year-old son of Lyphard-Dona Ysidra, trained by LeRoy Jolley and ridden by Jacinto Vasquez, paid $2.80 and $2.20 in the four-horse field.
The Jack Van Berg-trained Vilzak, with Pat Day aboard, was second, a length ahead of Lieutenant's Lark, who finished 2 lengths ahead of Creme Fraiche.
Vilzak paid $2.80. There was no show betting.
The $150,000-added Louisville Budweiser Breeders' Cup, for fillies and mares 3 and older, was won by long shot Queen Alexandra, trained by George Baker and ridden by Don Brumfield.
Sent off at 11-1 in the six-horse field, Queen Alexandra took the lead in the clubhouse turn and was never headed. She covered the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42 4/5, finishing three-quarters of a length ahead of Infinidad and Bill Shoemaker, who in turn were 2 3/4 lengths better than I'm Sweets with Eddie Maple.
Queen Alexander paid $24.20, $10.20 and $5.20; Infinidad paid $10 and $5.60, and I'm Sweets paid $6 to show.
The favored Wayne Lukas-trained entry of North Sider and Family Style, the latter second in last year's Oaks, could manage no better than fourth and fifth, respectively, and 1985 Oaks winner Fran's Valentine was last.