Chen, Azan say Oaks now a level playing field
IT's not often that trainers at Caymanas Park agree on much. However, injured SHE'S A MANEATER's absence has had Oaks rivals Dwight Chen and Richard Azan singing the same tune 24 hours ahead of the $3m race for fillies only.
"It's an open race. SHE'S A MANEATER is not in the race, so jockeyship will decide. The three horses are on par," said Chen, whose MARLENE MY LOVE finished fourth three weeks ago in the 1000 Guineas behind SHE'S A MANEATER, BILINGUAL and Richard Azan's MONEY MAGNET.
"I have no idea what I am doing right now," Chen said when pressed as to which tactic will be employed by jockey Jevvanne Erwin after Dane Nelson rode contrasting races in the Thornbird Stakes and 1000 Guineas - attempting to make all in the first instance then from off the pace next time out, both resulting in fourth-place finishes.
Azan, who will not be at the track to saddle MONEY MAGNET, spoke from Florida but appeared to be sharing a hymnal with Chen.
"I think everything will depend on how the jockey rides her. Any good horse running in their age group can get the distance," Azan said of bred-to-sprint MONEY MAGNET's chances in the 10-furlong race.
"The outcome will depend on how the jockeys ride. For example, I haven't given Shane (Ellis) any instructions. He will ride the horse the way he believes she should ride her," Azan added.
The third horse in the Oaks picture is Anthony Nunes' BILINGUAL, who loomed large on SHE'S A MANEATER inside the final furlong of the 1000 Guineas but was left standing when the Wayne DaCosta-trained star changed gears and went on to win by four lengths. Of the star trio left in the race, Nunes' BILINGUAL appears the best stayer, even though MARLENE MY LOVE is a half-sister to MARK MY WORD, one of the greatest distance horses to have graced Caymanas Park.
However, similar to Chen, Azan believes SHE'S A MANEATER's absence has thrown the race open.
"The fillies section always had SHE'S A MANEATER as the superior horse. It was never a level playing field," Azan said of the super filly's domination of the Thornbird Stakes and 1000 Guineas.