Oscar Performance: A Career of Movie-Worthy Moments


Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf winner Oscar Performance as a stallion at Mill Ridge Farm, Visit Horse Country tour
Oscar Performance at Mill Ridge Farm. Photo by Champions of the Track.

Early Life & Pedigree (2014-2015): On April 6, 2014, a stakes-winning mare named Devine Actress laid down to give birth to her third foal. The foal, a bay colt sired by Kitten's Joy, looked promising from the moment that he stood up for the very first time. The team at his birthplace Mill Ridge Farm couldn't help but dream that one day he would become something special.


The little colt was bred to be a turf star. His dam had been a nice performer herself, but had her career cut short by an injury just after winning her first stakes race. Devine Actress' sire Theatrical (IRE) had been more than successful on the turf himself; he won six Grade 1 races including the Breeders' Cup Turf in his career finale. Devine Actress' dam Devine Beauty hadn't been as successful on the track as her daughter, having never won a race in five starts, but descended from greats like Nashua, Seattle Slew, and Danzig. The colt's sire Kitten's Joy is renowned for producing good turf horses. He was a two-time Grade 1 winner on the turf himself and finished second in the Breeders' Cup Turf in 2004. Kitten's Joy was sired by Group 1 winner El Prado (IRE) out of the winning mare Kitten's First, by Group 1 winner Lear Fan.


The Devine Actress x Kitten's Joy colt grew up healthy and strong at Mill Ridge. The farm's managing director Headley Bell remembers him as a, "very attractive foal, the kind that you hope for. He continued to go that way as he grew. He was more of an alpha, but he stayed out of trouble."


The colt's breeders the Amermans decided to race him as a homebred, so he was sent to trainer Brian Lynch after his early education at Mill Ridge to begin his career running in the Amerman's navy and white silks. They named him Oscar Performance - Devine Actress' second foal, a full-brother to Oscar Performance, had been named Oscar Nominated and had won a graded stakes race before Oscar Performance even made his debut (and went on to win more than $1.5 million).


Two-Year Old Season (2016):


Oscar Performance made his career debut at the prestigious Saratoga summer meet, going 1 1/8 miles on the inner turf course. His first performance wasn't very impressive - he finished sixth - but his next race one month later was sensational; Oscar Performance went wire to wire in a dominating 10 1/4 length victory. This performance caught the eye of many racing fans and Oscar Performance was named "TDN's Rising Star", an honor bestowed on two-year olds who show promise and potential early in their career.


The colt had proved that he was worthy of being tested against tougher competition, so he was run in the Pilgrim Stakes (G3) where he again went wire to wire to win by an easy 7 lengths. The prowess that Oscar performance showed in his two victories encouraged his owners to run him in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). It wasn't going to be an easy race for Oscar - he had never run outside of New York and would have to travel all the way to California for the big race. It was going to be his first time running in Grade 1 company and he would have to break quickly from post 13, the second-widest gate of all, to get past horses and to his preferred position at the front of the pack. Plus, both Oscar Performance's trainer Brian Lynch and jockey Jose Ortiz had never won a Breeders' Cup race. Still the betting public liked Oscar's chances and sent him off as the 6-1 third-choice.


Thankfully Oscar rocketed out of gate 13 and got up into second place, not far off the rail, before the field started around the first turn. Though he had gotten into a good spot, Wellabled was setting a blistering fast pace and Oscar was going to have to keep up with it if he was to maintain position. Oscar Performance stayed right at Wellabled's flank as they soared down the backstretch and into the final turn.


As the field neared the top of the stretch, Jose asked Oscar Performance to overtake Wellabled. Oscar responded immediately, putting away the pacesetter with ease. He began to open up on the rest of the field, his huge strides eating up Santa Anita's turf course like it was nothing. Even when Lancaster Bomber and the favorite Good Samaritan threatened to run past him in the stretch, Oscar Performance fought on.


He crossed the wire 1 1/4 lengths in front in a true Oscar worthy performance. It was a beautiful way to cap off his two-year old season.


[Video: Watch Oscar Performance win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf]


Three-Year Old Season (2017):


After his sensational Breeders' Cup victory, Oscar Performance was given some time off to rest and relax. He returned to training in February 2017 and made his three-year old debut in the Transylvania Stakes (G3) at Keeneland on a wet track, but finished an uncharacteristic fifth. He tried to rebound in the American Turf Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs, but faded all the way to last after setting the pace.