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Princess of Sylmar Surprises in Kentucky Oaks

King of Prussia Stable’s Princess of Sylmar, the second-longest shot on the board at 38-1, won the 139th running of the $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) on Friday. The filly won the Oaks by a half-length before the second-largest Oaks Day crowd in history, 113,820. Friday’s attendance was surpassed only by the 116,046 that attended in 2010.

Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Mike Smith, Princess of Sylmar covered the 1 1/8 miles on a fast main track in 1:49.17. It was the first Oaks victory for Smith and the third for Pletcher, who won the 2004 running with Ashado and in 2007 with Rags to Riches.

Princess of Sylmar

Princess of Sylmar

Pletcher, who will saddle five runners in Saturday’s 139th Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands, is in position to become the first trainer since Ben Jones in 1952 to win the Oaks and Derby in the same year. Jones won the Oaks with Real Delight and the Derby with Hill Gail.

Smith, who will ride Palace Malice for Pletcher in the Derby, seeks to become the first rider since Calvin Borel in 2009 (Rachel Alexandra and Mine That Bird) to complete a Derby-Oaks double in the same year.

“It was extremely rough leaving there,” said Smith. “We got banged around pretty good but she settled right into stride. After that, I just rode her like Todd had told me to, to be honest with you. They thought they had moved a little early last time out and to really be patient. And when you think it’s time to move, maybe even be a little more patient. It really worked out great.”

Princess of Sylmar’s $79.60 winning mutual is the second highest in Oaks history, topped only by the $96.20 payoff for Lemons Forever in 2006.

The victory was worth $589,000 and improved Princess of Sylmar’s earnings to $827,220 with a record of 7-5-1-0. It was the first graded-stakes victory for Princess of Sylmar.

Princess of Sylmar is a homebred daughter of Majestic Warrior out the Catienus mare Storm Dixie.

Undefeated Midnight Lucky, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, set the early pace with 2012 champion 2-year-old filly Beholder with Garrett Gomez up in closest pursuit through fractions of :22.84, :46.79 and 1:11.34.

As the field turned for home, Smith had Princess of Sylmar in the clear and fourth behind the trio of Midnight Lucky, Beholder and Unlimited Budget. Beholder put away Midnight Lucky and opened a clear advantage only to be collared late by Princess of Sylmar.

Princess of Sylmar returned $79.60, $29.40 and $14. Beholder returned $9 and $5.60 with Unlimited Budget, ridden by Javier Castellano, finishing two lengths back and returning $3.80 to show.

Favored Dreaming of Julia, who was impeded at the start and was left with a ton of ground to make up, finished a head back in fourth and was followed in order by Midnight Lucky, Pure Fun, Close Hatches, Rose to Gold, Seaneen Girl and Silsita. Flashy Gray was scratched.

 Reed Palmer photo