Vertical Oak facing four in Garland of Roses
OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Vertical Oak has won eight races – six stakes – over four different tracks. As far as her trainer, Steve Asmussen, is concerned, Vertical Oak was never better than when she won the Dream Supreme Stakes by 2 3/4 lengths last month at Churchill Downs.
“Might have been her best race ever,” Asmussen said. “It was visually impressive, it was nice. Hopefully she can reproduce another good race.”
Asmussen hopes Vertical Oak will run that way Saturday in the $100,000 Garland of Roses at Aqueduct, where she will meet four rivals in the six-furlong race. The Garland of Roses is the featured event on Saturday’s nine-race card, but with the short field it’s carded as race 5 (2:17 p.m. Eastern).
Vertical Oak, a 4-year-old daughter of Giant Oak, has won at Saratoga, Churchill Downs, Prairie Meadows, and Pimlico. All eight of her wins have come at six furlongs.
“Three-quarters is as far as I ever want to run her again,” said Asmussen, who trains Vertical Oak for Kirk and Judy Robison. “As a 3-year-old, we tried a few [other] things.”
In her Dream Supreme victory, Vertical Oak got a beautiful trip, stalking one speed horse from the outside post under Rafael Santana Jr. Vertical Oak will again have the outside post under Eric Cancel on Saturday.
“I love the draw,” Asmussen said.
Dream Pauline finished third to Vertical Oak in the Dream Supreme, but she had to steady multiple times after getting stuck down on the inside. Dream Pauline breaks from the rail Saturday.
“She had a rough race for her, down inside, got checked hard twice down the backside,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “But the winner was impressive.”
Yorkiepoo Princess is coming off a 5 3/4-length victory in the off-the-turf Autumn Days Stakes here on Nov. 25. This will be her third race in less than five weeks, but she excels during the cold weather months and at Aqueduct.
“Asmussen’s horse looks like the class of the race,” said Eddie Barker, trainer of Yorkiepoo Princess.
But, Barker said, Yorkiepoo Princess “likes this track, likes the cold weather.”
“We’ll take a shot,” he said. “I know it’s a tough race, but she’s going to show up. I’m confident about that.”
Sower won the Pumpkin Pie Stakes at Belmont on Oct. 28. She and Tigalalu scratched out of the Grade 3 Go for Wand last Saturday for this spot.
Vertical Oak, by Giant Oak Last 3 Beyers: 92-91-88
◗ Looks to get favorable setup breaking from the outside post in a compact field.
◗ She is the only graded winner in the group
Dream Pauline, by Tapit Last 3 Beyers: 77-91-71
◗ Had legitimate trouble in the Dream Supreme, but it more likely cost her second than a chance at winning.
◗ Won her debut by six lengths here last December.
◗ David Cohen becomes her fourth different rider.
Yorkiepoo Princess, by Kantharos Last 3 Beyers: 96-86-63
◗ Running back two weeks after recording career-high Beyer winning off-the-turf Autumn Days.
◗ Has a running style similar to Vertical Oak’s and is drawn inside of that opponent.
Vertical Oak, who got a 92 Beyer for her Dream Supreme win, has posted all eight of her wins over six furlongs.