Kentucky Oaks Review

3 May

By Lucky Kalanges

Depending on how you feel about morning-line favorite Bellafina (9/5), picking the winner of the 145th edition of the Kentucky Oaks is either a no-brainer or absolute skull buster.

The aforementioned filly from Simon Callahan’s barn has won 6 of her lifetime starts, and all but one of those wins have come by open lengths. And she brings a three-race winning streak with her to Churchill Downs. That said, her last loss was over this track in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, and her overall record when she doesn’t have the lead by the second is one win and a second from three starts.

Did I mention there is a lot of front running speed in this race?

Most notably Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Jaywalk, Motion Emotion, Serengeti Empress, Liora, and Flor De La Mar all share essentially the same running style with Bellafina. Something’s got to give and with Bellafina expected to be lower than 2/1 odds, I’m incline to take my chances elsewhere.

Trouble is, most of the other contenders horses have their problems as well. The first I gravitated toward was #14 Restless Rider (6/1) who has shown great ability to stalk early pace-setters and range up on them rounding the far turn without being asked. She done this in her last two races. Unfortunately, each time when she’s been able to reduce the competition to one, she’s been unable to pass that horse in the lane. This isn’t a great trait when you’re looking for a Win bet, but it could prove valuable in the Exacta given she’s never been worse than second in seven starts.

The other off-the-pace type I’m looking at is #3 Lady Apple (20/1) who enters with a three-race winning streak and showed great courage rallying up the rail to win the Fantasy at Oaklawn last out. She’ll need that courage and some racing luck with a draw close to the rail, but she’s been on the upswing and could benefit from a ground-saving trip behind the early speed.

#12 Street Band (15/1) gets a great draw for Larry Jones, who can train an Oaks fillies with the best of them.  Enters off a nice win in the Fair Grounds Oaks over Serengeti Empress who faces even more early speed here and will be a far shorter price, granted she did bleed in that last race.

Lastly, #10 Champagne Anyone (6/1) could benefit from a pace meltdown with her closing style, I’m just not 100% sold on her. Maybe for the lower half of the Trifecta.

In the end, I don’t have a strong opinion in this one and it will probably come down to post time for me with some Win bets and Exactas using Lady Apple, top and bottom.

Best of luck in the Oaks everyone.

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