As the racing world prepares to turn to Churchill Downs on the 1st Saturday in May, the Friday card anchored by the Kentucky Oaks serves as more than an appetizer for the main course of the Derby. This card has full fields and 6 stakes in all, starting in Race 6, where we are graced with the return of the reigning HOTY.
Race 6: G2 La Troienne S. (10:26 AM PDT) - 1m & 1/16
This compact field of 6 is headline by #4 Rachel Alexandra, as she looks to avenge her loss to begin the season given to her by #3 Zardana. There are two need the lead horses in #1 Be Fair and #5 Unrivaled Belle, who should hook up on the front end. Right behind them should be #6 Distinctive Dixie, who has speed but can rate just off. Rachel should be sitting right here behind these 3, about 3 lengths off. Next will be Zardana about 4 lengths off, with the stone-cold closer #2 Morena bringing up the rear. Rachel, with all of her connections venting a major amount of frustration, opens up at the top of the lane and takes command with an effortless move. She wins as she pleases, with Distinctive Dixie passing the tiring front-runners and holding off Zardana for 2nd.
#4 Rachel Alexandra
#6 Distinctive Dixie
Race 7: G3 Kentucky Juvenile S. (11:10 AM PDT) - 5 Furlongs
This is a hard race to figure out, as the race is for two-year olds. 5 of the 9 won last time out, while 1 of the others ran 2nd to one of the winners, one ran third and the other two are 1st time starters. While the betting will determine whom is "live", i like #2 Lou Brissie. Among every horse who has run, he is the only one who won from off the pace. He has a good maintenance work and his trainer is a ridiculous 6-15 1st race after the maiden win. His sire Limehouse won the race in 2003. #9 Twelve Pack Shelly is the only horse in the field that has run on dirt, demolishing a field at Laurel in a nice time. The jock follows the filly here in a sign of confidence and she has a good maintenance work in the interim. #7 Nina Fever won in a nice fashion and time has two works and maintains the services of Robby Albarado, who rode three of the horses, all winners, last time out. But she carries the "stain" of the 3f work as her first work back from her race. This blog never plays a horse in the top spot when their first work is 3f, when certain conditions apply. When young horses, anyone could improve quickly, so this is a race to spread. (This will be the subject of a future blog post.)
#2 Lou Brissie
#9 Twelve Pack Shelly
#7 Nina Fever
Race 8: Grade 3 CD Turf Sprint (12:04 PDT) - 5 Furlongs (Turf)
I'm going to take a chance on #9 Formidable here. Last time out, in his first ever race on turf, he won in good time after ducking in at the start. He has great speed but does not have to be on the lead. He's had two good works in the interim and Jose Lezcano strings along. At 12/1 on the morning line, this looks like a live longshot. #7 Starfish Bay won in race horse time last out, is the fastest horse in this field and runs well fresh. A nice complement of works for this Pletcher trainee stamp him as one to keep an eye on. #3 Chamberlain Bridge is the class of field, but could be vunerable 2nd off the layoff. Moralist, Silver Timber and Central City are others to consider.
#7 Starfish Bay
#3 Chamberlain Bridge
Race 9: Grade 3 Alysheba Stakes (12:54 PM PDT) - 1m & 1/16
#6 Bullsbay is the defending champ in this race and comes in off a 5 month layoff. He appears to be training well at his home base at Fair Hill. He is hoping for a good pace to run into, as he will probably sitting 5 lengths off the pace. #3 Macho Again is training lights out according to some people with some serious inside info on him. Half of his wins are on this track and has run huge off the layoff before. #8 Flying Private has always been a horse who has never lived up to the hype. But his two races since being out of action since the Belmont have been good efforts. He won first off the layoff, then closed into a tepid pace set by a lone speed horse, who looks to have a nice future, in Total Bull last out. He has two nice works at CD and may have finally turned the corner. Cool Coal Man will try to take the field wire-to-wire, but must deal with Southern California shipper Enriched. This 1/2 brother to multiple grade 1 winner Lava Man will be trying dirt for the 1st time, but will he have the same shipping issues his brother was notorious for possessing?
#3 Macho Again
#8 Flying Private
Race 10: Grade 2 American Turf (1:47 PM PDT) - 1m & 1 1/16 (Turf)
This race might offer one the best values all day with the presence of #1 Setsuko in the field. With all the talk around him not getting into the Derby, his price should be much lower tha it should be. In this blog's opinion, the Southern California 3 year-old Turf division is very weak. The entire meet at Santa Anita, a main track horse would come over to the turf and win. Alphie's Bet, Make Music For Me, Line of David all did this. With this in mind, i say both Setsuko and Alfarabi are tosses. I fear the favorite #4 Lost Aptitude, as he is probably the class of the field, but the 10 week layoff combined with only one published work in the interim prevents me from picking him on top. #11 Workin for Hops has won 3 out of 4 races, never been out of the exacta and can attend the pace. This son of City Zip has won at the distance and comes in with a nice series of works. #6 Doubles Partner cuts back after not lifting a hoof in the Lane's End, gets back on the turf but has only work in the 5 week interim. He's proven his liking for turf and should be sitting mid-pack. With the classic third off the layoff situation, will he make the necessary improvement to win?
#11 Workin For Hops
#4 Lost Aptitude
#6 Doubles Partner
Race 11: Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks (2:45 PM PDT) - 1m & 1/8
The feature on the card features a contentious field of 14 horses. The solid 6/5 morning line favorite is #5 Blind Luck. This daughter of Pollard's Vision looks to rally off what is expected to be strong pace. But this blog has never been very high on her and think she is vulnerable. The selection is #3 Quiet Temper finally reverted back to her stalk-&-pounced tactics last time out in winning the Fair Ground Oaks. She has had two steady works, and keeps Robby Albarado, who could have ridden Beautician as well. With her ability to sit off back, she will get first jump on the closers and hopefully hold on. #12 Ailalea is the other Pletcher filly behind Derby entrant Devil May Care. She struggled in first chance at two turns, but with the addition of blinkers and this being her 2nd race off the layoff, she could move up enough to challenge. With 3 nice "clockworks", this daughter of Pulpit should thrive at the mile and an eighth. (A clockwork is when a horse works with the same number of the days in between each work) Others given a shot are: Jody Slew, whose last race was compromised due to her training schedule being compromised after getting cast in her stall days before the race; Evening Jewel, who won the Ashland last out but has never run over a dirt surface; Joanie's Catch, who somehow finds a way to hit the board; and Tidal Pool, who will try to take them as far as she can under Calvin Borel.
#3 Quiet Temper
#11 Evening Jewel
There are the picks for the stakes on the Kentucky Oaks card. I'll be back with picks for the stakes on the Derby card some point on Friday afternoon. Until then, good luck and hopefully will be cashing together tomorrow. :-)