The 12-race card at Churchill Downs gets underway at 10:30am ET and features six stakes, with the Oaks going off at 5:45 ET and televised live on the NBC Sports Network.
Grace Hall is coming off a sharp score in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) by 6 ½ lengths under jockey Javier Castellano, who gets the return call in the Oaks.
Many of the best female runners we have seen in the past decade have won this race, including Rachel Alexandra, Blind Luck, Rags to Riches, and Ashado.
Last year’s winner Plum Pretty is in Friday’s $300,000 La Troien (G2) which starts off the stakes action and the Pick 6 on the card, and is the 4-5 morning line favorite in the field of seven.
The seventh race is the $100,000 Eight Belles (G3) for three-year-old fillies going seven furlongs on the main track.
The Bob Baffert trained Contested is the 2-1 morning line favorite off a sharp win versus first level allowance foes at Santa Anita.
The $150,000 Edgewood drew an overflowing field of three-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles on the grass.
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G2) winner Stephanie’s Kitten is the 2-1 morning line favorite.
The boys then take center stage, with a field of ten going in the $300,000 Alysheba (G2), and a wide open full field of three-year-olds will go 1 11/16 miles on the grass in the $200,000 American Turf (G2).
Let’s head out to Churchill Downs for Friday’s featured race of the day:
Churchill Downs Race 11 The Kentucky Oaks G1 (5:45 ET)
Grace Hall 5-2
And Why Not 15-1
Jemina’s Pearl 10-1
Broadway’s Alibi 4-1
Analysis: Grace Hall is going to likely go off as the favorite here but she is the one to beat coming off a very impressive looking win in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) in her last outing. The filly ran well over the main track here last fall in a runner up finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). She was upset in the Davona Dale (G2) two back by 64-1 Yara, but she was making her first start off a 3 1/2 month break. The Tony D. filly appears to be sitting on a top effort here in her third start of her current form cycle.
And Why Not did not fire last out in the Gulfstream Park Oaks at 5-1, but it was her first go off a five month layoff. The filly showed plenty of promise as a juvenile, checking in third behind our to pick in the Spinaway (G1) in her first go against winners, and a game runner up finish in the Pocahontas (G2) over the main track here last fall going a one turn mile. The winner of that race was On Fire Baby, who came back to win the Golden Rod (G2) in her next start on Nov. 26 and most recently won the Honeybee (G2) at Oaklawn Park. The Michael Matz trainee drilled a bullet work on April 24 over the main track and Leparoux sticks. She should give a better account of herself second off the bench and the 15-1 morning line looks more than fair.
Jemina’s Pearl is one of two in here sent out by the Bob Baffert barn. The filly started off her career in Ireland winning one of five starts, and then beat Alw-1 optional claimers in her U.S. debut at Santa Anita off a five month layoff. She shipped to Oaklawn Park for the Fantasy (G2) and ran pretty well. She broke outward stalked the early pace from the outside and was making up ground late in a third place finish, beaten two lengths for the top spot. The extra ground here should suit this gal.
Broadway’s Alibi brings plenty of speed to the party, having gone gate to wire to win the Forward Gal (G2) at Gulfstream Park and the Comely (G3) last out at Aqueduct. There is plenty of other early zip in here and the main question mark is whether she can handle the extra furlong. She is by Vindication out of the stakes winner Broadway Gold ($166K) who did her best work sprinting.
WIN: Grace Hall to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 2,10 / 2,6,8,10
TRI: 2,10 / 2,6,8,10 / 1,2,4,6,8,10