Farrell is almost certain to be a hot favorite to continue the recent tradition of the Fair Grounds Oaks in producing Kentucky Oaks winners. Six wearers of the lilies have come out of the Fair Grounds Oaks in the last 13 years, including champions Ashado, Proud Spell, Rachel Alexandra and Untapable. Nonetheless, Farrell can't be everywhere, and that has left an opportunity for other fillies to prove that they might be Oaks material. Among them is Salty, who went from maiden winner to impressive Grade II winner in the fraction of a second it took jockey Joel Rosario to make a crucial decision to launch an early bid in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (USA-II).
Salty was the "buzz horse" coming into the race, so much so that she secured even-money favoritism over Forward Gal Stakes (USA-II) winner Tequilita, a filly riding a three-race win streak. Left behind in the early going, the filly started picking up horses on her own after a quarter-mile. When Rosario made the decision to ask her with nearly three-quarters of a mile run, she responded, sweeping to the lead and widening from there in spite of running somewhat greenly down the lane. The late-running Tequilita made a good move of her own in the stretch but proved unable to close the gap as Salty strode out through the wire.
Salty is a daughter of Quality Road, a four-time Grade I winner at distances up to 9 furlongs, and her dam, stakes-placed Theycallmeladyluck, is by 2000 Haskell Invitational Handicap (USA-I) winner Dixie Union, so there seems to be little reason to think that Salty can't tack on another sixteenth of a mile in the Kentucky Oaks. A more pertinent question is whether the lightly raced filly, who was making only her third lifetime start, will regress off her effort or move forward. If she does the latter---and if she can gain better position in the early running---Farrell may need a little salt in her own shaker to stand off the new girl on the block.