Land Over Sea rewards favoritism in Fair Grounds Oaks

NEW ORLEANS -- Five races in a row, Land Over Sea had faced Songbird, only to lose every time, albeit usually in respectable fashion.

On Saturday, with no Songbird to chase, Land Over Sea showed she knows how to win when she drew off as the favorite in defeating seven other 3-year-old fillies in the 49th running of the Grade 2, $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks on the Louisiana Derby undercard.

"Once I got to the three-eighths pole, we were third and in the clear on the outside," said John Velazquez, the Hall of Fame jockey who was aboard Land Over Sea for the familiar owner-trainer team of Reddam Racing LLC and trainer Doug O'Neill. "I was like, 'OK, it's all her now.' Down the lane I think she showed the quality of filly she's been chasing in California."

Midnight on Oconee led for the first five furlongs of the 1-1/16-mile race, pressed by Adore, who took over midway through the final turn. Past the furlong pole, Adore still clung to the lead, but after nine whacks of the whip from Velazquez, it was all over, as Land Over Sea flew past to win by 4-1/2 lengths.

Dream Dance, a 23-1 outsider, rallied late up the rail to get second by a neck over a tiring Adore. It was another 3-3/4 lengths back to Northwest Tale, who was followed by Venus Valentine, Stageplay, Midnight on Oconee, and Street Fancy.

Land Over Sea, a Kentucky-bred chestnut by Bellamy Road, returned $5.60 after finishing in 1:44.74 over a fast track. Her five losses to Songbird all came after a maiden triumph last July and included seconds in the Grade 1 Chandelier, Grade 2 Las Virgenes, and Grade 3 Santa Ysabel.

"It was great to get a confidence win like this," said Jack Sisterson, the O'Neill assistant who accompanied Land Over Sea from their Southern California base. "A lot of the credit goes to the filly herself. She's got such a will to win."

The victory not only was worth $244,000, but also 100 eligibility points toward the May 6 Kentucky Oaks. The undefeated Songbird is the strong early favorite.

Six of the last 11 runnings of the Fair Grounds Oaks has produced the winner of the Kentucky Oaks, with Untapable (2014) being the most recent.

The $2 exacta (8-7) paid $81.60, the $1 trifecta (8-7-5) returned $216.40, and the 10-cent superfecta (8-7-5-1) was worth $181.