Vertical Oak Gets Her Way in Miss Preakness Stakes

Paola Ditto
Mag 20, 2017

Vertical Oak proved not for catching Friday with a convincing victory in the Miss Preakness.

The last two outings for the 3-year-old daughter of Giant Oak have showcased a 180-degree turn in form from her first pair of stakes tries. Fourth in Oaklawn's Dixie Belle S. January 21, the chestnut filled that spot again in that venue's Purple Martin S. March 25.

When she rebounded with a gate-to-wire, 7 3/4-length triumph in the April 29 Goldfinch Stakes at Prairie Meadows, Asmussen knew her progression path was back on track. Breaking sharply, the chestnut was on the outside of a three-horse duel for command, matching strides with Our Majesty and longshot My Miss Chiff through swift early splits of:22.61 and:45.54.

"She needs things to go her way to show her best", said her trainer, Steve Asmussen, who said Vertical Oak's quick start put her in position to be effective.

"She's a nice filly", Asmussen said. I thought she ran very powerfully from there.

Vertical Oak touted herself as an impressive maiden victor at Saratoga Race Course last August, winning by 6 3/4 lengths at second asking. She had a rough trip the time before, so I was concerned about her confidence.

Sent off at 6-1 odds, Vertical Oak covered the six furlongs in a final time 1:10.06 over a fast track. Our Majesty backed out of it at the top of the lane, leaving My Miss Chiff and Vertical Oak to battle it out. However, My Miss Chiff proved no match for Vertical Oak, who instantly powered clear to win by daylight.

Vertical Oak is the first graded stakes victor for her late, third-crop sire Giant Oak, who died in March from a neurological condition. She has now earned more than $200,000 for owners Kirk and Judy Robison.

Grade 1 victor Pretty City Dancer was a late scratch out of the Miss Preakness when she pulled a shoe off in the paddock and then became too agitated to get reshod.

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