The Mysteries of Sport News: Savethelastdance and the Betfred Oaks
Flat races are usually won by a horse or two lengths, but every once in a while, something extraordinary happens. This was the case with Savethelastdance’s performance at Chester. The odds were against her after being beaten on her only outing at age two, but she proved everyone wrong when she arrived at Roodee on the back of a maiden win at Leopardstown.
A Little Unusual
Savethelastdance will never be close to resembling that price again as she is now considered one of the favourites for the Betfred Oaks race after an impressive run. She didn’t have the best start and had to be nudged along early in the race before taking off just past halfway mark.
Her display was breathtaking as she continued to pull further away from her competitors with each stride. However, Aidan O’Brien admitted that he’s unsure what will happen next during their upcoming contest given its different track and ground conditions:
“I’m not sure you can ever be confident; you’re always hopeful,” O’Brien said ahead of his bid for his fourth straight win in this classic event. “It’s a different track; it will be different ground, so for everyone it will be interesting and we’ll learn a lot.”
O’Brien also commented that there was something unique about Savethelastdance’s victory last time out:
“Usually when you see those things [wide-margin victories], it can be an optical illusion where rest stopping rather than one quickening up,” explained O’Brien. “But times said she was quickening which is unusual in such strongly-run races.”
Some experts have raised concerns about Savethelastdance’s ability to perform well in good ground conditions, as she has only raced on soft so far. However, O’Brien feels that her breeding should work in her favor and even improve her performance:
“Most by Galileo we’ve had want better ground; they wouldn’t want it soft at all.” commented O’Brien. “With Scat Daddy on the dam’s side you’d say absolutely she should want better ground.”
A Race of Mysteries
O’Brien runs two other outliers alongside Savethelastdance – Red Riding Hood and Be Happy. Only one other trainer since 2014 has won this race: John Gosden, who now shares his license with his son Thady. Gosden looks like he could be a serious threat again this year with Pretty Polly winner Running Lion and Musidora scorer Soul Sister.
Frankie Dettori will ride Soul Sister in what is going to be his last-ever Oaks race. Commenting on their chances, he said:
“They are both really bred to be mile-and-a-quarter fillies, and the last bit you just don’t know,” explained Dettori. “But you can’t practice it at home.”