I arrived in Kentucky yesterday evening and was able to finish handicapping the Kentucky Oaks card in time to put this entry together. I hope to do the same tomorrow prior to Derby Day. Enjoy, and good luck!
Race 2: Maiden Special Weight at 1 1/16 miles for fillies and mares
Call to Action is clearly the horse to beat since she ran a fast race first time out at Gulfstream and was flattered when Smashing came back to win her debut at Aqueduct with an 89 Beyer speed figure. She’s bred to get the distance so I’m not overly concerned about the stretch-out. There also isn’t that much obvious early speed signed on so it’s conceivable that she could get to the front and carve out her own pace. I have no major knocks against her, but I am equally interested in the runner breaking just to her outside, who should be a much more enticing price.
I know that LADY MARGARITA (#4) was awful in her lone dirt race, but that was her debut and it came over a sloppy, sealed track at Gulfstream that she may have just not cared for. She was given plenty of time to recover and was brought back going two turns over Keeneland’s Polytrack last month. Her effort is a bit better than it appears on paper as she chased a relatively swift early pace and made a middle move to challenge for the lead before fading late. It was an encouraging step forward for a filly who is supposed to get better with age. Her dam was an excellent runner who banked over $800,000 while taking down a couple of graded stakes and was best going two turns on the dirt. I’m of the opinion that it was the addition of blinkers and Lasix along with some added maturity that caused her improvement last time, rather than an affinity for Polytrack. If that’s the case she only needs another small step forward to contend for win honors here.
$10 Win 4
Race 3: Optional Claiming $75,000/N1X at 1 1/16 mile for three year-old fillies
I’m very interested in SHE’S JUSTIFIED (#7) getting back on the dirt. She faced a couple of nice Pletcher fillies in her first couple of starts when finishing behind Sloane Square and Lucky for You, and while she was soundly defeated on both occasions, she did finish up evenly and showed that she handles a dirt surface. After breaking her maiden when switched to turf in her third start, she was bumped up into a very tough allowance race at Keeneland and was never able to get involved. Now she returns to a two-turn dirt route, which should suit her. This half-sister to Dance to Bristol is certainly bred to be better on dirt than turf and may be simply be a better horse now that she’s gotten a few more starts under her belt. There isn’t much early speed in the lineup so I expect Javier Castellano to try and attain a forward position heading into the clubhouse turn.
$10 Win 7
Race 6: The Twin Spires Turf Sprint Stakes (G3) at five furlongs on the turf
I found this to be one of the more difficult races on the card. There is a lot of speed entered, which makes me doubt that Marchman will be able to duplicate his win in the Shakertown. Stormofthecentury may be the fastest of all early and seems to love this five furlong distance, but the layoff is a concern. Positive Side should appreciate getting more pace to run into than he did in the Shakertown, but I wonder if this distance will suit his closing style.
I’ve decided to take a shot with UNDRAFTED (#2). He’s a horse who probably should be 3-for-3 on the turf after an unlucky trip in last year’s Oceanside at Del Mar. He returned with two decent runs sprinting on the main tracks at Gulfstream and Keeneland, but he might be better on the turf. The distance is a bit of a question mark, but he did show blazing speed to win his debut going four and a furlongs as a two year-old so it’s conceivable that he could handle this trip. Wesley Ward seems to know what he’s doing with his turf sprinters and I could bet this horse at odds of 6-1 or higher.
$10 Win 2
Race 8: The Eight Belles (G3) at seven furlongs for three year-old fillies
She’s A Tiger can certainly win this if she returns to her two year-old form first off the bench. However, she doesn’t really have any major speed figure edge on this field and faces a few pretty fast fillies today. I’m not way against her because I do think she’s pretty good, but I don’t want to back her as the favorite.
Our Amazing Rose is a filly that many seem to like in this spot, but she is stepping way up in class and would need a step forward to take down the top prize. Some New York handicappers may feel that she was against a gold rail last time, but that weekend’s strong rail had almost totally dissipated by the time Our Amazing Rose won. I do feel that she has ability, but I don’t think the price will make her a very good win bet.
Of the main contenders, I strongly prefer FIFTYSHADESOFGOLD (#7). She returned with a fast win at Sam Houston two back and then put in a valiant effort against the remarkable Untapable in the Fair Grounds Oaks last time. She probably doesn’t really want to go two turns and gets back to what should be a much more preferable distance today. Fiftyshadesofgold is likely going to be the third choice in the wagering, but I believe she’s the most likely winner.
I also want to use MUFAJAAH (#8) at a bit of a price. She progressed through her first three races like a filly who has some ability and prompted her connections to giver her a shot in the Fantasy. Oaklawn’s main track may have been a little speed favoring that day and Mufajaah was never able to make an impact from the back of the pack. I think this turnback will really suit her since her dam was best as a sprinter, taking the Grade 2 Vagrancy during her racing career. Mufajaah also gets Lasix for the first time and I think she could be charging late in a race that should feature an honest pace.
$15 Win 7 (WINNER; Payout: $46.50)
$10 Win 8
Race 11: The Kentucky Oaks (G1) at 1 1/8 miles for three year-old fillies
I’m not foolish enough to take a strong shot against UNTAPABLE (#13). Her two races as a three year-old have been superb and if she continues to run that well she will be virtually unbeatable. I’m not too keen on any of the other horses who are likely to attract support, but there is a long shot in the race who I think has a chance to round out exactas and trifectas.
AURELIA’S BELLE (#8) ran pretty well over the winter at Gulfstream before going to Turfway to win the Bourbonette Oaks. She’s bred to get this distance and I don’t think she’s any worse than Ria Antonia, Fashion Plate, Rosalind, or Got Lucky, yet she is probably going to be a much larger price. It’s not my strongest opinion, but she’s a horse that you may want to throw into your exotic wagers.