On August 3 at Arlington, Please Explain raced for the first time since the Kentucky Oaks. This Curlin filly out of the Pine Bluff mare Lizzy’s Bluff was my favourite horse on the Oaks trail this year, and I have been following her for about as long as Blinkers Off has existed.
She got a well-deserved rest after a long and somewhat fraught campaign through the winter and the spring. She started hot with a maiden win at Gulfstream and then a clear win in the Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay. She followed that up with a third place finish in the Honeybee Stakes (GIII), though she was disqualified to 11th after a medication violation. She returned for a disappointing seventh in the Fantasy Stakes (GIII), and then was a surprise entrant in the Kentucky Oaks. After that, trainer Tom Proctor gave her a break, but has been breezing her regularly at Arlington since late June. She finally raced again on Sunday in a 1 1/16 mile allowance optional claiming race at Arlington, trying both turf and older company for the first time.
She stalked early, about three lengths off of pacesetter Seeking Treasure. For a horse who prefers coming from even farther than that early, that was a wily strategic move by jockey Channing Hill to try her from there – for much of the race, it was only Viva Bertha who stood between her and the leader. Still, in light of the scratch of North By Northlite, Seeking Treasure was left to set the slow fractions she craved: the quarter in 24.86, the half in 50.25. Viva Bertha did not pressure until the far turn, when she got as close as about half a length. However, neither Viva Bertha, Please Explain, nor anyone else could get any closer than that. The slow fractions left Seeking Treasure with more than enough energy to kick away, and she won by daylight.
As for Please Explain, she never quite got up to threaten. She ran up along the rail, but didn’t charge to threaten Seeking Treasure on the front end. She looked like she was fading badly, but started to come again at least a little bit in the final sixteenth. She ended up in fourth, half a length in front of The Best Option and Mufajaah. She was five and a half lengths behind runaway winner Seeking Treasure. It was not quite the run I was hoping to see, but it was her first turf run and her first race in three months. Hopefully she tries again soon, and hopefully it will be at Arlington.
I am glad to see Please Explain back on the track, and I have every hope that she will run stronger second off the lay. It will be interesting to see if she tries the turf again, tries synthetic, or moves elsewhere to return to dirt. I would enjoy seeing her race at Arlington again, but more than anything I just want her to find her stride again.