Tag: Kentucky Oaks

2021 Kentucky Oaks & Undercard Selections

Kentucky Derby Weekend officially begins with the fillies in the Kentucky Oaks. The run for the lillies caps of a six stakes day that gives us some amazing fillies & mares as well as some nice older horses and turf racing. All of it is an excellent prelude to the Kentucky Derby stakes slate – and some great opportunities to pad the bankroll.

Race 6 – Alysheba Stakes (G2)
1:26pm ET | $400,000 | 4YO and Up | 1 1/16 mi Dirt
(5) Roadster is the speed of the speed here – have blitzed out to an early lead last out in the New Orleans Classic. His drifting out cost him the win there, but I factor that to the time off. He should return to normal form now in his second start off the layoff. (3) Attachment Rate tried sprinting last out but gets back to a route and shows a lot of prowess competing with this class – running style fits well here. (4) Chess Chief offers some value after beating Roadster last out and being not too far from Maxfield two back; Luis Saez chooses him over Attachment Rate.

Race 7 – Edgewood Stakes (G2)
2:09pm ET | $300,000 | 3YO Fillies | 1 1/16 mi Turf
Going to play against the returning Breeders’ Cup winner Aunt Pearl with a horse making her second career North American start in (2) Gift List. Her second in the very tough Appalachian at Keeneland was the ideal prep for me – she should toughness, fought throughout, and just came up short while not letting anyone really pass her. She is eligible to improve in this start. Then comes (6) Aunt Pearl who is the clear class of the field. (5) Line Dancing stands as my longshot – the Sanibel Island looked to be a tough race for its class and one that could prove fruitful for her.

Race 8 – La Troienne Stakes (G1)
3:03pm ET | $500,000 | 4YO and Up Fillies & Mares | 1 1/16 mi Dirt
HAMMER TIME – through the whole world onto (2) Shedaresthedevil. Perfect prep in the Azeri and the second place finisher Letruska came back to upset Monomoy Girl and Swiss Skydiver in the Apple Blossom Handicap. Shedaresthedevil has a chance to be an elite mare this year and winning here will put here right in that spot. (3) Dunbar Road is always a hard trier that seems to always get a piece of the money while (5) Paris Lights is hot right now and should improve returning to a route.

Race 9 – Eight Belles Stakes (G2)
4:04pm ET | $300,000 | 3YO Fillies | 7 Furlongs Dirt
There is a ton of speed here – which makes me think its time to go to someone who can rate, like (6) Slumber Party. Stepped up well last out in the Beaumont and chased a strong leader. Now gets a chance to rate a fast pace and should be one of the few fresh horses left late. (11) Abrogate will benefit from the quick pace and hot leaders while I’m very interested to see what Bill Mott has in (12) Caramel Swirl after that ten length romp last out.

Race 10 – Twin Spires Turf Sprint Stakes (G2)
4:55pm ET | $250,000 | 3YO and Up | 5.5 Furlongs Turf
Last year’s winner (9) Diamond Oops returns and gets a very similar spot with what looks to be an honest pace and what should be a ground saving trip; definitely the class of the field, although current form is the question. Love betting speed here and (11) Carotari is the speed of the pack – going gate to wire will be tough but without a lot of other front end speed, should be in the mix for a lone lead. (8) Fast Boat offers an interesting challenge if he can get back to older graded stakes form.

Race 11 – Kentucky Oaks (G1)
5:51pm ET | $1,250,000 | 3YO Fillies | 1 1/8 mi Dirt
The scratch of Ava’s Grace opens up this race for (6) Travel Column. Sitting as the only speed, the Fair Grounds Oaks winner should easily take them wire-to-wire here. This daughter of Tapit was ultra tough to beat last out and continues to be a high performing filly. As long as she gets the lead and can save ground on the turns, she should have no issue finishing up this start. As for (10) Malathaat, she enters 4 for 4 with a near miss in the Ashland, where she just got up. If she can stay a bit closer to the pace than she was there, she is a dangerous stalker that could pose issues for Travel Column. John Velazquez does get his mount back – having won on her last December in the Demoiselle at Aqueduct. Finally, looking for a price comes in the form of (4) Crazy Beautiful. A closing winner of the Gulfstream Park Oaks, she has been working out real well at Churchill Downs entering this race and has been one of the ones to watch in most of her starts. Her figures are trending in the right direction and if she shows her late burst that she did have last out, she is going to be very tough to beat.

Kentucky Oaks Day 2020 Selections

The fillies may be running for the lillies many months after the fact, but a star studded matchup between Gamine and Swiss Skydiver makes this race just as exciting if not even more so than usual. While the Kentucky Oaks headlines the card, it is backed by many races that may have a play on the Breeders Cup in a few months, with the Eight Belles, Edgewood, Alysheba, La Troienne, and Twin Spires Turf Sprint rounding out the stakes action on the day.

Race 8 – Eight Belles (G2)
Three-year old sprinting fillies go here with the winner most likely being aimed at the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint next time out. A field of 7 goes here, including the duel-Grade 3 winner Four Graces. Early speed usually takes control of these types of races at Churchill Downs, and that is exactly the type of style (7) Four Graces is known for; she will be my top pick in here. She will face a tough challenge from the Brad Cox barn with Mundaye Call, who romped to a 7 1/4 length win in the Audubon Oaks at Ellis Park. However, the class edge for Four Graces gives her the edge for me.

Race 9 – Edgewood (G2)
We head to the turf for the next one, as a field of turf three-year old fillies will go the mile distance. Having been won by many fantastic fillies in recent memory, like Concrete Rose and Catch A Glimpse, this is generally one of the classiest races on Oaks Day. The heavy favorite here, without a doubt, is the H. Graham Motion trainee (3) Sharing, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf champion of last year who turned her Tepin Stakes win earlier this year at Churchill Downs into a runner up effort at Royal Ascot in the Coronation Stakes. She has had blitzing workouts leading up to this race and should be the one coming home clear late. I’d add in (6) Pranked at a price – she has been improving with each effort and showed a lot of tough finishing an off the pace 2nd last out.

Race 10 – Alysheba (G2)
What better way to get prepped for the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland than on the other side of the commonwealth at Churchill Downs. The Alysheba has some of the top handicap horses in training showing up, including last year’s Classic runner-up and defending Alysheba champ McKinzie, Oaklawn Handicap winner By My Standards, and fan-favorite Bodexpress. For me, (3) Owendale gets the nod; he had a completely wide trip last our in the Stephen Foster which took away all chance, but his Blame Stakes win was ultra impressive. He got time off and has been working well. The inside post will pose well for him. Should get a good run under Florent Geroux. I can’t back By My Standards or McKinzie, both of which had head scratching efforts as of late and just seem like they are lacking the finishing kick recently. (1) Silver Dust on the inside is one that could pose well here; he’s another that got wide and touch runs but moving to the inside and his early speed could give him enough to crack the money.

Race 11 – La Troienne (G1)
Distaffers go in this Grade 1, which drew four last out winners. While Midnight Bisou won’t be showing up here, Vexatious and crew will have to get past Monomoy Girl, winner of nine straight races, including the Ruffian Stakes last out and last year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Can she be beat? Hard to say. She might be another chalk that we will have to eat, as she looks to tough. I have to put (8) Monomoy Girl on top of my tickets – she is an absolute star. But I have some nice prices to put aside her in (7) Lady Kate, winner of the Groupie Doll last out who has a lot of speed to contend, and (5) Risky Mandate, who has been improving each out and is one to watch.

Race 12 – Kentucky Oaks (G1)
Finally it is time for the headliner of the day – the Kentucky Oaks! The routes to this race have been anything but normal, as is par for the course this year. But nonetheless, we have an absolute showdown between Swiss Skydiver, a filly that was aimed at the Investec Oaks for a time, and Gamine, the lightly raced Baffert that ran away with the Acorn on Belmont Stakes day. And don’t leave out the rest of this group, which includes the Santa Ysabel winner Donna Veloce (runner up in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies too), Ashland winner Speech, Indiana Oaks winner Shedaresthedevil, and Monmouth Oaks winner Hopeful Grace. Going horse by horse, (1) Swiss Skydiver shows everything that I’d want in an Oaks winner – the ability to rate, relax, and turn up the gears when needed; she nearly beat the boys in the Blue Grass earlier this Summer and looks tuned up after her Alabama win. As for (2) Tempers Rising, this one should be charging late at the end; with a lot (read: hot hot hot) of pace here, there will be plenty for this closer to run after and should grab a spot in the money. Donna Veloce has been sitting on the sidelines for more than six months, missing much of the action this year and only starting once all year – she has talent, but this long layoff just isn’t the type of pattern for me. Speech is an interesting one; she took the very easy Ashland at Keeneland once Swiss Skydiver defected for the Blue Grass, just one race after beating Speech in the Santa Anita Oaks; she has been second best for much of this year (even when going behind Gamine) and I expect just the same – but should be one to include in exotics. As for Gamine, she has been lights out around one turn this year in the Acorn and the Test, but two turns isn’t necessarily her thing – I don’t know how she will stay on top against a hot pace and down the long Churchill Downs stretch. Bayerness, the aptly named daughter of Bayern, has not shown too much going shorter this year – perhaps she steps up here (but probably not). The Indiana Oaks winner (7) Shedaresthedevil has caught my eye for Brad Cox – she had a mix of results early, with trainer changes of Norm Cassee and Simon Callaghan, but she seems to have found her stride the Cox barn; her Indiana Oaks win was visually impressive and I’m excited to see what she can do with her return to Churchill Downs (a track she loves). Hopeful Growth and Dream Marie on the outside are two coming out of the Monmouth Oaks, but no Monmouth magic is expected for me – both tosses.

Race 13 – Twin Spires Turf Sprint (G2)
One of my favorite races of the weekend every year is the 5.5 furlong dash on the turf – the Twin Spires Turf Sprint. This year horses are coming from pretty much everywhere to tackle this turf sprint, and a major prep for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. For me, this race will depend on if (2) Wellabled can go gate to wire – he has the speed to do just that, and has really improved with the switch to turf, but this will be his toughest test yet. If he can’t, (10) Carotari and (4) Bound For Nowhere will be right on his tail to take over late.

There you have it. While it may be a chalky Friday, it is sure to be a good Friday, and a nice prelude day leading up to Saturday’s action of the Kentucky Derby! Enjoy!