The 2017 Kentucky Oaks doesn’t get the national recognition that the Kentucky Derby does, but horse people know what a great race it is. The fillies are missing their star of the past year, UNIQUE BELLA, but this is a very quality group across the board.
Here is a breakdown of all 14 fillies…
#1: EVER SO CLEVER (Luis Contreras/Steve Asmussen)
Has improved greatly over last two starts as far as the Brisnet Speed Figures (BSF) are concerned. Won the G3 – Fantasy by coming from more the nine lengths back at first call into moderate early fractions. Kind of stunned that group at Oaklawn winning at 15-1 and it’s going to take a similar effort and a big step forward to compete in this group. She has been in graded stakes company in 5 of her last 7.
OUTLOOK: It’s going to take a big step forward, I just don’t see it happening. If the pace scenario is extremely hot in the slop on Friday, maybe she could pull a Mine That Bird, but expecting that effort is something else. Has one very solid closing effort in the mud at Churchill – SLOPPY TRACK improves chances, otherwise NOPE.
#2: LOCKDOWN (Jose Ortiz/Bill Mott)
Has been working out extremely quick on the Churchill surface and that has to be taken note of, but all her wins came on the Aqueduct inner dirt which I am not a big fan of when it comes to these big races. She does have a win on a good track, Sire/Dam stats are solid on wet surfaces, but this horse is going to need to return to effort two back and step up.
OUTLOOK: The solid works are great, but no race on slop – and no wins outside the inner track at Aqueduct is too scary to take in this race. Will press the pace, needs huge effort, NOT WORTH RISKING ON THIS ONE.
#3: MOPOTISM (Mario Gutierrez/Doug O’neill)
Debuted at Del Mar, ran well, went into the G1 – Starlet at Los Al, got in trouble, closed for 3rd, then broke maiden at 3/5 in solid group. Got blitzed by Unique Bella in Las Virgenes, then shipped to Sunland to win in an open stakes as 2/5, was simply outclassed by Paradise Woods last out. Would need to improve big from last start.
OUTLOOK: Got trounced by PARADISE WOODS and UNIQUE BELLA in her career, has shown good speed in her career and has a win on a wet-fast surface at Santa Anita which definitely helps. Is bred to run forever and I like this one’s chances as a long shot. Doug O’neill knows what he is doing. If she takes to the slop, BIG THREAT
#4: PARADISE WOODS (Flavien Prat/Richard Mandella)
After a so-so debut, Paradise Wood stormed onto the Oaks scene like a tornado popping up out of nowhere. She did not start as a 2-year-old, but she apparently didn’t need it. She would probably be less than 10-1 if was starting in the Kentucky Derby. It will be interesting to see how low she gets bet in this race. Her recent speed figure was outstanding. Has been working outstanding.
OUTLOOK: All signs point to a great race, but she is bound to bounce, right? I may be dead wrong about her in this race, but I am going to be betting against this horse. Her sire is not very good on wet surfaces and I think there is a 75%+ chance of a sloppy track on Friday right now. Tough call cause she could be as low as even money if everyone’s backing her. UNDERNEATH ONLY for me.
#5: JORDAN’S HENNY (Joe Rocco/Michael Tomlinson)
Not really bred to win going long, but has started routing in every start. Took six starts to break maiden, has gradually improved in every start, but this is asking a ton to win this start. She was 2nd in the Davona Dale to Miss Sky Warrior but a lot of that had to do with a bias on a speed track. Came back in the GP Oaks and ran well again behind the winner SALTY. It will be an interesting pace scenario if they try to send this one.
OUTLOOK: Loan start in the mud was a dud. Only win was against a group I wouldn’t jump around about. Only good thing to note is the Jockey/trainer combo has won 2 of 3. LONG SHOT
#6: VEXATIOUS (K. Desormeaux/Neil Drysdale)
Is well bred to run at this distance and has hit the board in every start of career. Problem is 4 of the 5 were 3rd place efforts. They were against many of the horses in this race. So this off the pace type makes an interesting long shot and Desormeaux always figures out a way to get in the picture in these races.
OUTLOOK: One very interesting point was she faced the boys and ran 3rd behind BATTLE OF MIDWAY and REACH THE WORLD in an AOC race in March. If that race proves to be the real deal, and this horse wins. BATTLE OF MIDWAY could look dangerous in Derby. I LIKE HER CHANCES TO HIT BOARD AS BIG PRICE
#7: FARRELL (Channing Hill/Wayne Catalano)
Broke maiden at Churchill on wet-fast track in second start going 6 1/2 furlongs. Love the fact that she has three great efforts on this surface. She has back to back G2 victories in Louisiana. The speed figures aren’t super flashy when comparing to the rest of the field. Two wins on off track is very important.
OUTLOOK: Major contender off the latest two efforts, but I am not willing to take a very short price on her when others offer more value. Depending on what odds are I am willing to use on top. Look in her picture, you think she likes the slop? IN THE MIX