Devil May Care: Oaks or Derby?

As I’m sure you already read on our Web site a few days ago, there is a chance that Devil May Care could run in the Derby instead of the Oaks, depending on how her workout at Churchill goes April 24. What do you guys think about that? She has the earnings, but is this filly, who has never raced against males, ready to face a huge field full in the most prestigious race in America? I’m not so sure.

I want to hear your thoughts on the subject. Who knows…if Devil May Care does run in the Derby, she could very well make history in becoming the fourth filly to win the race. Anything can happen, right? I mean let’s face it, Mine That Bird won last year…

Anyway, I decided to call the Devil May Care’s owner, John Greathouse of Glencrest Farm to get his thoughts on the matter. One huge factor Greathouse has to consider is the fact that it will cost $2,500 to enter Devil May Care in the Oaks, versus $25,000 to enter her in the Derby. But that didn’t seem to have a huge bearing on his decision process. Here’s how our interview went:

EM: Is this something you were strongly considering with her awhile back, or when did Derby thoughts start coming into your mind with her?

JG: She was nominated (to the Derby) back in January, so obviously it’s something that’s been working on the back burner for a long time. She’s probably a better filly than what we’ve seen so far. Some of the stuff that she’s done has been pretty green, and she hasn’t raced a whole lot of times (Devil May Care has won three of five starts), but she’s shown a lot of ability in the morning, and to that end, (trainer Todd Pletcher) has said those things.

In this case, she is a filly that does have a lot of ability…a few weeks ago, I said something (to Pletcher) about the Oaks, and he said, ‘Well, I haven’t given up on the other race (the Derby).’ What we do or don’t do has no bearing on the rest of Todd’s horses. She’s got to come in there doing well and working well on her own.

You’ve got to remember, there are 13 other fillies going into the Oaks, and I don’t know whether we can beat them or not. I’m not trying to short change the Oaks…(Pletcher) has said, even if (Devil May Care) runs in the Oaks, he would consider running her back in the Belmont. That in itself should tell you that distance limitations shouldn’t really be there for her, and he does think a lot of the filly.

I don’t feel the pressure to run in either race that the next person might feel, especially if it’s a colt. Obviously, colts have just one place to go, and that’s Saturday. Those that want to participate and think their horse has a big shot, I don’t blame them. But my side of the coin is that I’m going over there trying to win a race, whether it’s Friday or Saturday, and I want to give her the best shot to be as much as she can be…whether it’s part of history being the fourth filly (to win the Derby), or if it’s not, believe me, I’d love to win Friday.

EM: Does it concern you at all that she’s never faced males before, or is that not really a concern for you guys?

JG: Todd has a lot of Derby colts. Do you think that she’s never worked with any of those horses in the morning? Even though there are 20 horses in the Derby, there’s going to be 14 in the Oaks. I think that these questions about male/female, 14 (horses) to 20, they’re really not relevant. At the end of the day, there are probably more colts that can beat you than fillies than fillies that can beat you, but that in itself is really not the answer.

If you win the race, it doesn’t make any difference how many any there could beat you. When (Eight Belles) broke down, I had people saying, ‘Well, fillies try harder against colts.’ I thought, ‘Well that’s nice. What about the filly that just won the Oaks? Did those 10 fillies behind her not try?’ Some of these statements are just so far out in left field.

(Devil May Care) has done some things with colts in the morning, and she’s more than held her own. Otherwise, Todd probably wouldn’t be considering something like this. At the end of the day, she has to answer her own questions. She’s a lovely filly that has a great way of going, and I think that anybody that’s seen her out there in the morning would be pretty impressed with her. I’m not surprised that Todd is, and it’s easy enough to impress me; I don’t get to see her that often.

EM: Have you guys talked about who might ride her if she does go to the Derby? I know John Velazquez has already committed to Eskendereya…

JG: That’s another thing…we’ve got no rider. If it’s not Johnny, it will have to be someone that will get her there on Derby Day. Who that somebody else is will sure have some determining factor on whether I’ll race Friday or Saturday. As of now, we haven’t talked about it.

Devil May Care at Churchill Downs on April 22. Photo by Anne M. Eberhardt

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