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Flute Wins the Kentucky Oaks

May 05, 2001|GRAHAME L. JONES

Flute barely made it to the starting line in time but reached the finish line with plenty of room to spare Friday, winning the 127th Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., by a comfortable 2 3/4 lengths.

Trained by Bobby Frankel and ridden by Jerry Bailey, the Kentucky-bred filly covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48 4/5, just shy of the stakes record of 1:48.80 set by Lite Light in 1991.

Real Cozzy, with Larry Melancon aboard, finished second, and Alex Solis brought 40-to-1 shot Collect Call home third, another 2 1/2 lengths back, in the Grade I event worth $609,200.

A crowd of 102,904, the second-largest in the race's history, watched the race.

Frankel, who won the same race with Keeper Hill in 1998, was lucky to even get Flute into Friday's race.

The bay daughter of Seattle Slew had not earned enough in her earlier three races to qualify, but became a late addition to the field of 13 when Scoop's connections decided to skip the Oaks.

"She ran an awesome race today," Frankel said. "She whipped around them like they were tied to the quarter pole."

Flute's victory ended any chance of a trainer sweeping the Oaks and today's Kentucky Derby.

Dallas Stewart, who trains Derby entrant Dollar Bill, also trains Nasty Storm, but that filly--owned in part by former University of Louisville basketball coach Denny Crum--finished last after leading in the backstretch.

Flute, who finished second to Golden Ballet in last month's Santa Anita Oaks, made her move on the final turn, overtaking the leaders on the outside while being pursued by Real Cozzy.

"She moved up for me, then idled when I asked her," Bailey said. "She did it about three times. It isn't common to have a horse--any horse--give you that stop and go so readily. It takes a special horse to do it."

The winner paid $8.60, wearning$377,704 for her owner, Prince Khalid Abdullah of Juddmonte Farms.

The favorite, Fleet Renee, another Seattle Slew filly who had won four in a row, finished fourth.

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