By Rachel Levine, author of Thorough Chat
All of the Kentucky Oaks talk has been about Blind Luck and Christine Daae, however there is a filly that is flying under the radar. No, she hasn't won a stakes race yet, but she could be one of the favorites for the Honeybee Stakes at Oaklawn. Yes, it took her six races to break her maiden, but she finished third in the Martha Washington Stakes. She is the Mineshaft filly Bell's Shoes, and happens to be from a family that adores Oaklawn.
Bell's Shoes is out of the King of Kings mare Isabell's Shoes, who won the 2005 Martha Washington, and then finished fifth in the Honeybee behind future BC Distaff winner Round Pond. Isabell’s Shoes is out of the Phone Trick mare Pink Shoes, who also won the Martha Washington Stakes. This makes Isabell’s Shoes a half-sister to stakes winners Wildcat Shoes and Prom Shoes. The latter finished second in the 2007 grade II Peter Pan Stakes, and has won two stakes at Oaklawn, the Fifth Season Stakes in 2008 and last year's Essex Handicap. This year, he finished third in the Essex and fourth in the grade III Razorback Handicap also at Oaklawn.
It did take Bell's Shoes a while to break her maiden, but, she finished out of the top three only once. Even then, she still took home a check in fifth. The Martha Washington was her first try against stakes company, and she finished third behind Decelerator and Eva Giselle. She went off as the second-longest shot and was only beaten by 2 ¼ lengths. She finished in front of Shotgun Gulch, who won the prep for the Martha Washington.
Could Bell's Shoes upset Blind Luck in the Kentucky Oaks? She has to do well in the Honeybee and in the Fantasy to have a chance to “Run for the Lilies.” However, if the current history of the Fantasy holds up, she has a great shot of doing so. Two of the last three winners of this prep are Eight Belles and Rachel Alexandra. Another winner of the Honeybee is grade I winner Round Pond. Only time will tell whether or not Bell’s Shoes will follow in the footsteps of great horses who have run at Oaklawn.