Anthony Margotta Jr is happy to target next month’s Kentucky Oaks with Hopeful Growth, though the trainer admits he’s got real fears about taking on Swiss Skydiver in particular.
Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks winner Hopeful Growth is likely to contest the September 4th Kentucky Oaks as long as she continues to impress her trainer at home.
She has won three out of her four starts to date, the sole defeat coming via the Grade 3 Delaware Oaks last month, where she proved no match for the likes of Project Whiskey and Dream Marie.
That form was reversed at Monmouth this month however when rider Antonio Gallardo steered Hopeful Growth home ahead of Project Whiskey in second spot, with Dream Marie back in fourth.
That win leaves Margotta happy to be aiming his filly at next month’s Churchill Downs classic.
“We’re pretty confident right now that we’re heading that way, as of this morning,” Margotta said on Sunday.
“I spoke this morning to the rest of the team, and we’re going to see how she trains this week, we’re going to breeze her next week, and we’ll see. As long as she keeps moving forward, there’s a pretty good chance we’ll make the race.”
Swiss Skydiver and Gamine are amongst the possible headline acts for the Kentucky Oaks.
The former has won four of her last five starts, culminating in the Grade 1 Alabama at Saratoga over the weekend; her first success at the top level. Gamine, too, was a Grade 1 scorer last time out via the Test at Saratoga and boasts a 3-4 record, with a the Grade 1 Acorn also on her CV.
For Margotta, Swiss Skydiver‘s weekend performance puts her right in the driving seat heading into the Kentucky Oaks.
“Swiss Skydiver — what a filly,” Margotta said. “I was in awe [on Saturday] just watching what she did. The campaign she’s had — I was thinking maybe she might be getting a little tired, but there was no signs of that. I’ve seen some great fillies in my day, and this filly looks like a champion filly.
“And Gamine, another unbelievable, top-class filly. The distance is a question mark with her, but Swiss Skydiver, there’s absolutely no question that she’s the horse to beat, in my opinion.”
In regards to the big race, Margotta admits that those top-class fillies are standard-setters. He isn’t though willing to concede that Hopeful Growth is facing a thankless task. Behind the front pair he sees something of an open race and, on that basis, he wants to allow his promising filly take her chance.
“Anything’s possible, you never know,” Margotta said. “You’ve got to always be ready, prepared. So whenever there’s just one horse or two horses to beat, you’ve really got to go. If it gets a lot deeper than that, sometimes you’ll maybe try to duck.
“We know it’s not going to be easy, but listen, you’ve got to be in it to win it.”