Wet Paint Gets Her Grade 1 in Coaching Club American Oaks

July 22, 2023

Wet Paint makes her mark in the Coaching Club American Oaks (NYRA/Coglianese)

By Keith McCalmont – NYRA Press Office

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.— Godolphin’s Kentucky homebred Wet Paint rallied from last-of-5 to collar Sacred Wish in the final strides and win Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks, a nine-furlong route for sophomore fillies, at Saratoga Race Course.

Trained by Brad Cox and piloted by Flavien Prat, the Blame bay finished fourth as the mutuel favorite in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks in May at Churchill Downs on the back of Grade 3 wins at Oaklawn Park in the Honeybee in February and Fantasy in April. Wet Paint exited her Oaks effort to finish second to Hoosier Philly in the Monomoy Girl over a speed-favoring surface in June at Ellis Park.

“Super consistent filly, always comes running,” Cox said. “Her run in the Oaks was good and her last race at Ellis was probably better than it looked on paper running against a huge bias with no pace. I’m glad she stepped up and finally got that Grade 1 – that was big for her.”

Wet Paint exited post 2 and settled at the back of the pack as 14-1 longshot She’s Lookin Lucky surged to the lead to mark an opening quarter-mile in 24.67 seconds over the fast main track as Southlawn, who stumbled out of the gate from her inside post, was rushed up by Florent Geroux to take third position to the inside of Sacred Wish.

She’s Lookin Lucky dictated terms through a half-mile in 48.81 with Sacred Wish in second, Southlawn saving ground in third and Gambling Girl, the Kentucky Oaks-runner up, stalking comfortably in fourth under Irad Ortiz, Jr.

Wet Paint could see them all as the Manny Franco-piloted Sacred Wish took over late in the turn, but she was gaining ground with every stride as Prat maneuvered her to the outside of a retreating Southlawn to follow the run of the 6-5 mutuel favorite Gambling Girl.

Wet Paint vaulted past Gambling Girl at the head of the lane and took aim at Sacred Wish, who drifted out to the center of the track to meet her rival. The two foes battled it out for the final 70 yards, but there was no denying Wet Paint a narrow neck score in a final time of 1:50.68.

It was a further 8 1/2 lengths back to Gambling Girl in third with She’s Lookin Lucky and Southlawn rounding out the order of finish. Hoosier Philly was scratched.

Cox was full of praise for the patient ride by Prat, who has engineered all three of her graded scores.

“She closes into soft paces like she did today, she closes into a fast pace. This is her thing in regards to just kind of flopping out of the gate and finding her way and finishing up,” Cox said. “I told Flavien today, ‘Just ride her like a turf horse.’ He knows what to do and you don’t have to tell him anything. That’s really what it comes down to – just let her break and kind of find her way around there, and when she starts picking up, just keep her out of trouble.”

To the winner’s circle for Wet Paint and connections (Janet Garaguso)

Prat admitted he had a few anxious moments when the George Weaver-trained Sacred Wish found another gear down the lane.

“Turning for home I thought I was going to win, at the eighth pole I was questioning it, and then she finally found another gear to get by that filly,” Prat said. “We went slow and we really picked it up and the filly of George Weaver’s kept on going, but she was able to get the win.”

Sacred Wish finished second in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks in April ahead of an off-the-board effort in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan in May at Pimlico Race Course. She entered from a close second to the streaking allowance-winner Sunset Louise in an optional-claiming route on June 16 at Belmont Park.

Franco, aboard Sacred Wish for the first time in the afternoon, said he was content to track the early speed of She’s Lookin Lucky.

Wet Paint heads home donning a special blanket (Susie Raisher)

“I knew the horse outside was fast, so I said if she breaks good, I’ll let her go, and that’s what I did,” Franco said. “She [Sacred Wish] ran really good, second best. I have to give credit to the winner. She ran huge, too. My filly ran super, too.”

Cox won the 2018 CCA Oaks with Monomoy Girl, who went on to earn honors as that year’s Champion 3-Year-Old Filly. The two-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer emphasized the importance of adding a Grade 1 win to Wet Paint’s ledger after taking the Martha Washington at Oaklawn ahead of her graded wins at the Arkansas oval.

“It was huge to get a Grade 1 with her. She accomplished so much this winter at Oaklawn – three big races and then she ran well in the Kentucky Oaks,” Cox said. “She was very unlucky probably to not be third and then she probably sat a bit closer to a hot pace than she’s normally used to. Her last race was a good run and I was very happy with it. She was running on, she was just up against it when the overnight came out that day. We were using it as a stepping stone to this race here.”

Cox said Wet Paint will likely target the 10-furlong Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama presented by Keeneland Sales on August 19 at the Spa.

“That’s the logical spot moving forward,” Cox said. “We’ll talk it over with the Godolphin team, but I think a mile and a quarter is definitely something she’s going to be able to handle based off her running style and showing today that she likes Saratoga.”

Wet Paint, out of the graded stakes-placed Street Cry mare Sky Painter, banked $275,000 in victory while improving her record to 9-5-2-0. She returned $4.90 for a $2 win bet.

Live racing resumes on Sunday at Saratoga with a 10-race card, featuring the Grade 2, $200,000 Shuvee in Race 4. First post is 1:10 p.m. Eastern.

@jonathanstettin Your article re reading when a horse dead on board made me some $ just now. Untapable was, IMO, odds-on, but dead. TY!

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