Evening Jewel gives her all in G1 Kentucky Oaks

Evening Jewel turned in an incredible effort in the $584,300 Kentucky Oaks (G1), just getting nipped on the wire by Blind Luck in one of the most thrilling renditions in the 136-year history of the 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-old fillies.

The daughter of Northern Afleet was coming off a big win in the Central Bank Ashland (G1) at Keeneland, but was dismissed at a generous 13-1 in the Oaks, likely owing to the depth of talent in the 14-horse field.

Ridden by Kent Desormeaux, Evening Jewel got away cleanly from post position eight over the fast track, settling in fourth a few paths off the rail. Eventual third-place finisher set a sensible pace for the first six furlongs, when she was engaged by Evening Jewel. With those two dueling into the stretch, Blind Luck was coming with her run from last place. Evening Jewel pulled away from Tidal Pool at the furlong marker, only to be confronted once again. The pair was inseparable to the wire, with no one able to say for certain who got the top spot.

Evening Jewel lost no honor in defeat, but trainer James Cassidy said it was nonetheless a tough beat. “Oh, man, that was hard. We had the same result in the Las Virgenes (G1) at Santa Anita (Feb. 13 in which she lost to Blind Luck by a nose) and I though we had won that one, too. Everyone around us today thought she had won; we did, too. She’s a game, game filly. Toughest beat of my career – no question. I’ve been beaten some dirty noses in Grade Is at other tracks, but given the context here, this was the toughest one of all.”

Despite the narrow loss, Evening Jewel has propelled her sire Northern Afleet to ninth place on the 2010 North American general sire list. The bay filly has bankrolled $416,343 this year and $516,943 overall. She has finished worse than second only once in nine starts.

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