By Alan Carasso
Both the Winchell Thoroughbreds-owned Summerly (Summer Squall, 2005) and Untapable (Tapit, 2014) used a victory in the GII Fair Grounds Oaks as a springboard to success at Churchill Downs on the first Friday in May. That particular double will be delayed this year, but Finite (Munnings), bred by Winchell and campaigned in partnership, can take the first step as the likely heavy favorite in the Saturday co-feature in New Orleans.
The current pole sitter on the TDN Kentucky Oaks Top 10, Finite enters the Oaks on a five-race winning skein, two of those in Louisville, including the GII Golden Rod S. She was perhaps a touch ring-rusty when eke-ing out the win in the Jan. 18 Silverbulletday S., but she looked every bit the divisional heavy when accounting for champion and GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner British Idiom (Flashback) in the GII Rachel Alexandra S. Feb. 15.
Munnings is also represented on the Road to the Oaks by #3 Venetian Harbor, the last-out GII Las Virgenes S. romper, and a third daughter of the Coolmore stallion has a chance to join the fray this weekend. Juddmonte’s Bonny South, bred on the exact same cross as Finite, burned some money when just fourth on her 6 1/2-furlong debut beneath the Twin Spires Nov. 14, then finished second, but was ultimately awarded a maiden win at this venue Dec. 22. Shipped to Oaklawn for her latest, the homebred got as many as 14 lengths behind a tear-away leader, but kept her mind on business in the lane and outfinished her stablemate and subsequent GIII Honeybee S. victrix Shedaresthedevil (Daredevil) by three parts of a length. Jockey Florent Geroux rode Munnings’s I’m a Chatterbox to victory in the 2015 Fair Grounds Oaks.
Stop Shoppin Tammy (Tapit) is the least experienced member of this sextet, having finished fourth at 2.15-1 behind ‘TDN Rising Star’ Wicked Whisper (Liam’s Map) on Saratoga debut Aug. 25 before returning to action with a front-running success over track and distance Feb. 17. Her three works since include a bullet five furlongs in :59 1/5 (1/18) Mar. 13.