Despite having what some consider the best 3-year-old filly in training, the connections of Turbulent Descent made the bold call weeks ago to bypass the Grade I Kentucky Oaks and keep the daughter of Congrats in what they feel is her comfort zone.
The move has no doubt earned some gratitude from many of this year's Oaks contenders.
Turbulent Descent might be skipping the premier race for 3-year-old fillies, but she delivered a performance for Kentucky fans to savor this spring. The Mike Puype-trained filly made short work of her rivals Sunday when she rolled to a 5-length victory in the Grade II, $150,000 Beaumont Stakes going 7 furlongs and 184 feet at Keeneland.
Although Turbulent Descent owns two Grade I wins around two turns — most recently in the Santa Anita Oaks on March 5 — Puype says the filly maxes out around 11⁄16 miles, short of the Oaks' 11⁄8 miles.
Rather than push his stable's starlet beyond her ability, Puype and owners Blinkers On Racing, Bill Strauss, Robert Butler and partners opted to let her natural one-turn power get a true chance to shine.
"This actually confirms what we decided to do. You saw how brilliant she was today," a beaming Strauss said. "She's brilliant around one turn; Mike recommended to us that we keep her around one turn, and we agreed with him
"It's the greatest thing in the world to have a horse like this. I go to all her works, which is about a 2-hour drive for me, but it's just a lot of fun. What's better than this?"
On Sunday, the answer was, not much.
Sent off as the 3-5 favorite in a talented field that included Grade I winner Tell a Kelly, Turbulent Descent patiently settled four wide under jockey David Flores while Gran Lioness clicked off fractions of :23.26 and :47.03 through the opening half mile.
Gran Lioness still clung to a short advantage around the turn for home but, by that point, Turbulent Descent was reeling her in with a smooth charge to the outside.
The bay filly jumped a shadow inside the final sixteenth, but it took nothing away from her momentum as she crossed the wire in 1:26.12 while drawing off from her five challengers.
"I just put her in a spot where I was very confident and just made sure I had a clear spot at the top of the stretch," Flores said. "When she accelerated, it was pretty much over."
Honey Chile was a half length in front of Coax Liberty for runner-up honors. Tell a Kelly, winner of the Grade I Darley Debutante last September, never threatened and finished fifth.
The Beaumont was the fifth triumph and third graded-stakes score in six career starts for Turbulent Descent. She also won the Santa Anita Oaks and the Grade I Hollywood Starlet.
While her owners have not ruled out trying two-turns again with her later in the year, plans call for Turbulent Descent to head to the Grade I Acorn at Belmont Park on June 11 and the Grade I Test at Saratoga on Aug. 6.
"She did what she wants to do today; she's a one-turn filly," Puype said. "She has a brutal amount of acceleration that is going to take her to the top of the game with whoever wants to try her at that distance.
"You don't have to go a mile and an eighth to get the Eclipse Award. She's going to put up a résumé this year that I think is going to be worthy of that kind of award."