On Tuesday afternoon after the draw for the Kentucky Oaks, Carolyn Gray was enjoying a rare afternoon off. Warm and sunny weather in Louisville invited al fresco dining, an invitation that Gray accepted, eating lunch and having a beer at an outdoor patio, followed by a trip for ice cream.
“I can’t remember,” she said, “the last time I had a beer with lunch on a Tuesday afternoon.”
She and her husband Fletcher had arrived the previous night, after making the eight-hour drive from their farm near Springfield, Missouri; welcoming a call from a stranger, she sounded pretty relaxed for a woman preparing to run a filly in Friday’s Longines Kentucky Oaks.
“I’m having a delightful time,” she said, pleased laughter in her voice. Her conversation is peppered with words like “fun,” “wonderful,” “great,” and more than once, “delightful.”
And why not? The filly that she and her husband bred is undefeated this year, securing a spot in the Oaks with three apparently easy victories in Louisiana, sweeping the Fair Grounds filly prep series for trainer Larry Jones. She earned 161 Oaks qualifying points, good enough to tie leader Condo Commando, who edged her out of the top spot with more stakes earnings; the two fillies are co-second choices at 4-1 for Friday’s race.
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Image: I’m a Chatterbox and Florent Geroux. Credit: Alexander Barkoff/Hodges Photography