While the boys go for the roses on Saturday, a field of 10 fillies will line up for the lilies on Friday afternoon in the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) including the Todd Pletcher trained Dreaming of Julia, who is the 3-1 morning line favorite.
The 3-1 morning line is likely to look more like 9-5 when the load the ten ladies in the gate for the marquee event of the year for three-year-old fillies.
The Pletcher trainee won the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) by 21 ¾ lengths, earning a 114 Beyer Speed Figure in her last outing. By comparison, the highest Beyer that Derby favorite Orb has earned in his career is a 97.
However, the Oaks is far from a one filly race. The 2012 champion juvenile filly Behold (7-2) is coming off a sharp win in the Santa Anita Derby (G1), and there are three fillies coming into the race undefeated.
The Bob Baffert trained Midnight Lucky (9-2) won the Sunland Park Oaks impressive fashion and is perfect in two starts. Pletcher’s Unlimited Budget (7-2) is perfect in four starts, winning the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) in her last outing. Close Hatches (6-1) has won all three of her starts for trainer Bill Mott.
The Oaks is one of six stakes on an outstanding betting card that gets underway at 10:30am eastern. The race will be televised live during a one hour telecast on NBC Sports Network that gets underway at 5:00 eastern.
The stakes action starts in the sixth race with the $300,000 La Troienne (G2) for fillies and mares four-year-old and upward who will go 1 1/16 miles on the main track. Last year’s Oaks winner Believe You Can (7-5) and Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) winner On Fire Baby (8-5) will square off.
The $150,000 Edgewood for three-year-old fillies drew a competitive field of 11 led by Herecomesthebride (G3) runner up Tokyo Time (3-1) for the Shug McGaughey barn and Provedencia (G3) runner up Birdlover (4-1), who ships in from Southern California for trainer Doug O’Neill.
The $150,000 Eight Belles (G3) drew a wide-open field of 14 three-year-old fillies led by last year’s Spinaway (G1) winner So Many Ways (6-1). The Mott trained Calistoga, who won her first two starts and makes her stakes debut is the 7-2 morning line favorite but drew the 14 post.
Last year’s Florida Derby (G1) winner Take Charge Indy is one of nine that will line up in the $300,000 Alysheba (G2). The McGaughey trained Hymn Book (3-1) is the morning line favorite but is making his first start since running fifth in the Cigar Mile (G1) last November at Aqueduct.
The $200,000 American Turf (G2) drew a competitive field of 13 three-year-olds who will go 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) runner up Noble Tune is the 3-1 morning line favorite for trainer Chad Brown.
If you are looking to wager on the big day, check out U.S.Racebook, which aims to become the best racebook for all your horse betting needs. For now, the site is a portal, rich with information and news and passing along its endorsement of our preferred online racebook TVG.com. Later in 2013, the site turns into a full-fledged, full-service online racebook that will offer everything you expect and some fresh new twists. Regulated, licensed and 100% legal in the United States, bookmark us or sign up for our email alerts and be first in line for special perks, new-customer bonuses and more!
My Oaks Day Report which includes selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for the entire 12-race card is now available.
Let’s head out to Churchill Downs for Friday’s featured race of the day:
Churchill Downs Race 11 The Kentucky Oaks G1 (Post time 5:45 ET)
2 Midnight Lucky 9-2
4 Unlimited Budget 7-2
8 Dreaming of Julia 3-1
11 Close Hatches 6-1
Analysis: Midnight Lucky is one of three undefeated fillies in this stellar field and perhaps has the most upside as she makes just her third career start here. She earned a 100 Beyer breaking her maiden at Santa Anita and then won the Sunland Oaks in her first go against winners, drawing off to win by eight lengths. The fifth and sixth place finishers came out of the race to win next out, a maiden and a first level optional claiming win. She steps into a much tougher spot here but is looks as if we are going to catch a fair price. Trainer Bob Baffert has won the Oaks twice, the most recent coming in 2011 with Plum Pretty.
Unlimited Budget is also undefeated and is one of four in here that will be saddled by Todd Pletcher. She drew off to win the Fair Ground Oaks (G2) last out in a good looking effort over a couple of foes she faces her again. She owns solid early and mid pace numbers and figures to be sitting just off the pace. Fair Grounds Oaks winners have fared well in this race, the most recent to win both races being Rachel Alexandra in 2009 and Believe You Can last year. She has moved forward in each of her starts and in her third start of her current form cycle appears to be sitting on another career top.
Dreaming of Julia trounced the field in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) by 21 3/4 lengths and earned a 114 Beyer, which is nine points higher than the top fig earned by Derby favorite Verrazano. It is 21 points higher than her previous high, so maybe it is on the generous side? The fifth place finisher in the race was Emollient, who came back to win the Ashland (G1) at Keeneland on April 6 with a 97 Beyer, which seems to indicate that perhaps the big fig is legit. The 3-1 morning line looks fair enough, but I am thinking she goes off more like 9-5.
Flashy Gray is going to scratch due to a bruised foot.
WIN: #2 to win at 7-2 or better.
EX: 2,4 / 2,4,8,11
TRI: 2,4 / 2,4,8,11 / 2,4,8,9,11
Get Michael’s Dempsey’s full card reports for all three jewels of this year’s Triple Crown! Included in this package is Michael’s full card report for the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes Day cards. As an added bonus, subscribers to this package will also receive Michael’s Kentucky Oaks Day card free!