So far this year, Reneesgotzip has been able to keep to a course that will take her to Churchill Downs the first week in May. Should she continue training well for Peter Miller, and should her health remain just where she is — on the uptick and ready for the best race of her young life — Reneesgotzip will be seen in the Kentucky Oaks.
The light brown filly with just a hint of white on her forehead was never considered by Miller or Lanni Family Trust (the listed owner) for this year’s Kentucky Derby. There are too many flourishing colts to realistically think she could run away with the roses on the first Saturday in May.
At auction, Miller was the one who authorized a final bid of $40,000 for her. “I’ve always been a fan of City Zip, so I thought $40,000 was a reasonable price to pay. She’s got that same long stride that City Zip had.”
This streamlined and liquid-quick daughter hasn’t won all her races, but she has been smoothly consistent and has stayed free of injury. Expectations have been held in hand. Miller has been patient and been able to keep his emotions in check when planning the spring path for her.
That path leading to potential glory has been plowed in California.
In her first race of the 2012 calendar year, Reneesgotzip was given a mid-January test in the Grade II San Ynez Stakes at the visually perfect Santa Anita Race Course in Arcadia, California.
The San Ynez was contested on January 15. The sprinter’s distance of 6 1/2 furlongs proved to be profitable for Miller and Reneesgotzip. It was her first race after the new year began . . . and she was able to win it with only a trace of trouble.
Jockey Corey Nakatani said of her moment of broken concentration during the San Ynez: “I’ve been getting on this horse in the morning for Pete, and she’s showed me every time what she can do. She was a little green coming to the quarter pole today. She shied and drifted out so I shook her up right there and she responded.
“It’s a good thing that Pete puts me to work on her because you get to know what she’s capable of doing. He’s confident in what we wanted to do with her. She’s a tremendous filly.”
Now, getting back to that quarter pole moment in the San Ynez. Reneesgotzip was in a clump of contenders for the lead when she moved lazily to her right and drifted toward her possible downfall. Nakatani roused her. She responded by increasing a length lead to five lengths in just a matter of 40 yards.
Properly aware of Nakatani’s intentions, she left the competition trying to save second place as she swallowed them by eight expanding lengths.
Actually, the San Ynez Stakes was just her second lifetime race. The first hadn’t come until the very end of 2011 when the two-year-old was still unraced. On December 18 of last year, she was at Hollywood Park and made her debut in a six furlong maiden race.
Leaving the starting gate in good order, she led every step of the way in prevailing by just over two lengths.
Trainer Miller showed his satisfaction of that first effort when he told his thoughts: “I was surprised at how easy she won her first start. I thought my filly might have needed an earlier race, but evidently she didn’t. She had shown a lot of ability, but not this kind of ability.”
After the San Ynez Stakes, Miller trained her to go farther than the 6 1/2 lengths that had been her limit in two tries.
Just three weeks ago, Reneesgotzip raced for the third time. It was the Grade I Las Virgenes Stakes at a mile at Santa Anita.
For the first time, unsolved problems visited Nakatani aboard Reneesgotzip. She didn’t get an uncontested lead. In fact, she didn’t get to the lead at all. A one-time starter named Eden’s Moon ripped through the first 200 yards along the rail and had relegated Reneesgotzip back to second place. Nakatani was giving chase . . . but his still-green thoroughbred didn’t ride through the first turn with any flourish at all. She ranged far too wide off the rail. Far too wide, losing ground all the while.
Eden’s Moon was unpressured by any of the other horses as she kept the lead. Reneesgotzip scrambled back toward contention. But Eden’s Moon had relaxed and flowed along through the entire backstretch.
Into the stretch, Nakatani asked Reneesgotzip for more run. The two contenders brushed each other. When Eden’s Moon moved smartly to a daylight lead, she had taken the bump with Reneesgotzip better than Nakatani’s steed had done.
There was clear daylight between the two when the finish line was behind both.
Miller and Nakatani lodged an objection against jockey Martin Garcia aboard Eden’s Moon. The stewards were told, “She got hit with the whip in the face. She got hit. It was obvious she got hit over the nose with the whip.”
The original order of finish stood when the stewards turned aside Miller and Nakatani’s objection.
“We’ll point her toward the Santa Anita Oaks,” said the unfazed Miller. “I don’t see any reason why not.”
The loss was the first for Reneesgotzip. Eden’s Moon was still unbeaten in two races.
Kentucky on the first Friday in May is still the ultimate goal.
Reneesgotzip has shown her lack of experience in all of her races. She meanders a winding course at times. She wanders wide on the turns. She drifts to her right in the stretch.
The Kentucky Oaks is no learning labratory to continue a horse’s progress. And Miller knows that is the case and has to continue his professorial duties between now and Friday, May 4.