Florida-breds Dorth Vader and Frosty O Toole will have the field surrounded when seven older fillies and mares line up for the $1 million Fasig-Tipton La Troienne (Grade 1) Friday at Churchill Downs.

The mile-and-one-sixteenth La Troienne for fillies and mares, 4-years-old and older, is the first of seven graded-stakes on a 13-race Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) program that begins at 10:30 a.m. EDT. The La Troienne will go off as the fifth race, with a post time of 12:43 p.m.

Breaking from outermost post seven is Dorth Vader, bred and owned by John Ropes. The 4-year-old daughter of Girvin out of the Yonaguska mare Hardcore Candy will be making her season debut in the La Troienne, not having raced since finishing fourth to Pretty Mischievous in the Test (G1) at Saratoga Race Course last August.

Recently crowned the Champion Florida-bred 3-Year-Old Filly, Dorth Vader is no stranger to Churchill Downs having run a strong fifth in the mile-and-one-eighth Kentucky Oaks, three-and-a-quarter lengths behind Pretty Mischievous, in her final start for previous trainer Michael Yates. Moved to George Weaver, she was second in the Acorn (G1) and was shut down for the season following the Test.

Dorth Vader had a strong juvenile campaign in 2022 with three wins from five starts, running third in the FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes My Dear Girl at Gulfstream before winning the track’s Juvenile Filly Sprint against fellow Florida-breds and Tampa’s Sandpiper against open company.

As a 3-year-old Dorth Vader won once from six starts, registering a 46-1 upset of the one-mile Davona Dale (G2) at Gulfstream, where she then ran fourth in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) before heading to Kentucky.

She sports a record of four wins with a second and a third from 11 starts and purse earnings of $503,758. 

Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, up for each of her last two races of 2023, has the riding assignment. They are rated at 12-1 on the morning line. 

Velazquez is a three-time winner of the La Troienne, including last year with Played Hard.

Drawing the rail is Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ 4-year-old Frosty O Toole, bred by Helen Barbazon, Joseph Barbazon and Godolphin. By three-time Grade 1-winning multimillionaire Frosted out of the Distorted Humor mare O’Toole, the filly fetched $35,000 at Ocala Breeders’ Sales yearling auction in October 2021 when consigned by Stuart Morris.

Frosty O Toole began her career in Florida, finishing off the board in a pair of maiden special weight events at Gulfstream Park before trainer and original owner Michael Dini brought her to Tampa Bay Downs, where she rallied to break her maiden by a neck in February 2023 and returned the following month with a commanding three-and-a-half-length victory over winners. Both races were contested at a mile-and-40 yards.

Purchased privately following her second straight win, Frosty O Toole was moved to Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher for three starts, two of them in graded-stakes in New York, before rejoining Dini last fall and ending her sophomore season on the Tampa turf.

Unlike La Troienne favorites and 2023 divisional champions Idiomatic and Pretty Mischievous, who are each making their season debuts, Frosty O Toole has recency on her side. She has raced three times this year, all at the La Troienne distance, opening with a popular four-and-a-half-length victory against second condition, $32,000 optional claiming triumph on Jan. 7 at Tampa.

Frosty O Toole returned to stakes competition in the Feb. 17 Nellie Morse at Laurel Park, rallying up the rail to finish second, three-and-a-half lengths behind winner Charming Way. She faced second level optional claimers again April 4, this time for a $62,500 price at Oaklawn Park. She raced on the outside while making another late bid for the place, beaten two-and-a-half lengths by Bluelightspecial.

Overall Frosty O Toole has three wins, two seconds, one third and purse earnings of $157,375 from 13 races. Jockey Rocco Bowen, aboard for her most recent start, gets a return call. They are rated at 20-1 on the morning line.

Return to the May 1 issue of Wire to Wire