Anna Ford, racing manager for E. Paul Robsham Stables, had some last minute shopping to do May 3.
“We just decided on Sunday (April 29) that we’re going to the (Kentucky) Oaks (gr. I) and I still need to find a dress,” said Ford while standing outside trainer Todd Pletcher’s barn 34 at Churchill Downs, where Broadway’s Alibi was being walked around the shedrow.
The daughter of Vindication, who is the co-second choice in the Oaks at 4-1, has developed fast and furious in the last few weeks, enough to convince her connections she’s ready to reach for the Lilies.
“We knew after the Comely (gr. III, March 7) that we were going to just wait and see,” said Ford of Broadway’s Alibi, who won that race by 3 1/2 lengths. She launched her 3-year-old campaign with a scintillating 16 3/4-length victory in the Forward Gal (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park in January. The filly, who will enter the Oaks on a four-race win streak, turned in a bullet work at Churchill April 28 when she covered four furlongs in :48.45. Her swift, front running style suggests she will probably be on the lead in the Oaks.
Broadway's Alibi at Churchill May 2, photo by Kevin Thompson
“A lot of people just say, ‘We qualify for the Oaks or Derby, let’s go.’ But that’s never the case with Mrs. Robsham,” Ford added of the owner/breeder, who always makes sure a horse truly belongs in a race before entering it.
“We just said, ‘If we have a shot to win, we’ll go. If not, we’ll sit out and go to the Acorn (gr. I, at Belmont Park May 28),” said Ford. “When she came back from the Comely, she kept training forwardly, and Todd said, ‘It’s worth a shot,’ so that’s why we’re here.”
Broadway's Alibi on the Churchill backstretch May 2, photo by Kevin Thompson
Ford has known the Robshams since the 1990s and has managed their stable since 2009. In addition to that role, she serves as executive director of New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program.
“Paul was one of the founding supporters of (New Vocations),” said Ford of the owner, who died in 2004. The stable has been run since then by his wife, Joyce. The Robshams, who started in the business in 1983, have achieved considerable success over the years, namely with grade I winners Trust N Luck, Pretty Discreet, Discreetly Mine, and Awesome Maria.
Broadway’s Alibi was bred from the stakes winning Seeking the Gold mare Broadway Gold, who E. Paul Robsham bought for $600,000 out of Book One of the 2003 Keeneland September yearling sale from Lane’s End, agent.
In addition to Broadway’s Alibi, Broadway’s Gold is the dam of the 4-year-old stakes-winning Bernardini filly R Gypsy Gold, who ran third in the 2011 Mother Goose Stakes (gr. I).
Ford, who is dedicated to retraining racehorses for new careers through New Vocations, is a good fit for managing Robsham’s stable considering they have similar goals of always putting the horse first.
“When people say they truly care and want the best for their horses, it’s not always the situation, but for (Joyce Robsham) it really is,” said Ford. “She really wants what’s best for her horses. If they’re not ready to run, she doesn’t want them running. If they can’t make it in an open allowance race or anything other than a claiming race, she’ll retire them. There aren’t very many people out there that will do that.”
Lucky for Robsham, Broadway’s Alibi is ready to run. Time will tell whether the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) will be her best race yet.
Said Ford: “Every time she’s showed up and she’s exceeded our expectations every time.”
Broadway's Alibi at Churchill, photo by Anne Eberhardt