2017 Kentucky Oaks: Breaking down the full field of 14, first half (post positions: #8 through #14) Is there a long shot drawn to the outside that could upset the field in the Oaks?

#8: Sailor’s Valentine


Eddie Kenneally has taken an interesting training path with this filly. She has hopped back and forth between stakes company and first level allowance races without success. Then all of a sudden, he enters her in the G1 – Ashland Stakes at Keeneland and she presses the pace, digs deep, and upsets the field at odds of 22-1. Even with the recent pop back to form, its hard to see this horse having the same type of effort a month later. The turf to dirt angle worked last out, but I think she is in for a bounce in this spot. NOT USING


#9: Wicked Lick


Wicked Lick ships in from the Fair Grounds where she earned 2nd in the FG Oaks. She has improved her speed figure in five consecutive races, but she has not won a single one of them. It’s hard to think that she will be able to come into the Kentucky Oaks and upset this group. At 30-1 on the morning line she could definitely be worth using underneath in the exotics. She has a win at Churchill, but there is one major problem, it was on turf. If the track is sloppy USE HER ON OFF TRACK, otherwise LONG SHOT UNDERNEATH



#10: Miss Sky Warrior


There is not a lot of bad I can say about a horse that was very green her debut as a 2-year-old and then corrected it and has won every start since. She has been perfect in her last five races. My only knock is four of the five came at Parx (1) and Aqueduct (3). The other win came  at Gulfstream in the Davona Dale. Her latest start in the G2-Gazelle was magnificent. Paco Lopez comes in for the ride and I can see why, this Kelly Breen entry has done everything you want to see. My biggest problem with her is she is a straight SPEED BALL and there is plenty of speed in the race. She may be the fastest filly in the group, but in my eyes she is a SPEED and FADE candidate. COULD WIN BUT I AM NOT USING – Note: She is not bred to run well on wet surfaces.


#11: Tequilita


Owned by Dorothy Matz and trained by Michael Matz, they have won in Kentucky before with Barbaro. This filly took a few starts to break her maiden. She has done her fair share of traveling. She had won three in a row including the Forward Gal at GP, but was caught 4wide in the GP Oaks and was good enough to earn 2nd. Salty was the horse that beat her and it could have been a combination of things. She may have been too close to a hot pace. One start on an off track, ran well for 2nd. DISTANCE is the question. I LIKE HER AS A LONG SHOT – DEPENDS ON ODDS


#12: Daddys Lil Darling


Has shown the ability to close like a freight train throughout her young but experienced career. She has been racing in graded stakes company for six consecutive starts, three G1’s, two G2’s, and one G3. She won the G2 Pocahontas at Churchill in the mud back in September. DING DING DING! This horse has every reason to run back to the best race of her life as long as she gets a pace set-up. She should get speed on her inside on this race. If she can get clear run 20-1 would be a sweet price on this horse. Kenny McPeek will have her in the right form. ON TOP


#13: Abel Tasman


I never really cared for California shippers coming into these races and then the last 10 years happened. They started winning and running in the money. It may have to do with the quality of racing in other areas of the country. I would say that Florida and New York racing has been on a downward swing for a while now. Abel Tasman on the other hand has put up some very, VERY FAST speed figures in her lifetime. She broke her maiden, cleared allowance company, and won the G1-Starlet in three consecutive starts. Then she ran into Unique Bella in the SntYsabl at Santa Anita. After Unique Bella defected with an injury, most thought this horse deserved Oaks favoritism. That was until Paradise Woods showed up in the Santa Anita Oaks and ran that group off their feet. A trainer switch to Bob Baffert and the addition of Mike Smith can only help this horse second off the change. She also has the breeding to run the distance and run in the mud. It’s impossible to leave this one off your tickets, MUST USE IN ALL POSITIONS


#14: Salty


I have heard from many a people that Salty is the real deal. Mark Casse has pushed all the right buttons thus far. With Classic Empire and State of Honor in tomorrow’s big race, the horse everybody might overlook is Salty. She is bred to run in the slop, Quality Road will definitely help her get 9 furlongs. Her biggest knock is her lack of experience on the racetrack. She has three starts. Ian Wilkes had her for her debut and she missed by a neck at 24-1. Then she came back in her next two starts and dazzled. Could be the biggest threat to Paradise Woods for favoritism. HER LACK OF EXPERIENCE HURTS, but she is a MUST USE IN ALL POSITIONS.


Tier 1: Using on most tickets


Tier 2: Using underneath on some tickets


Tier 3: Not using unless ALL button is pushed


TOP PICK: #14 SALTY or #12 DADDYS LIL DARLING (Depends on weather)


Some of my tickets:

$20 Win on 14 and/or 12


$1 exacta box 3,11,12,14 = $12

$1 ex 14 with ALL = $13

$1 ex ALL with 14 = $13

$0.50 tri: 14 with 3,7,11,12,13 with 3,7,11,12,13

3,7,11,12,13 with 14 with 3,7,11,12,13

3,7,11,12,13 with 3,7,11,12,13 with 14

$1 super 14 with 3,7 with 3,7,13 with 3,7,11,12,13


I will be singling the 14 in the final leg of the guaranteed P4 – I will also have a ticket that uses all of the six horses in tier 1 in a P4. Please check Twitter.

2017 Kentucky Oaks: Breaking down the full field of 14, first half (post positions: #1 through #7) Is there a long shot drawn to the inside that could upset the field in the Oaks?

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)Ever so clever

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)

Jordans HennyCoady

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)

LeComte Stakes Day

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

2017 Kentucky Derby: Post Position draw COMPLETE, Favorite Classic Empire gets the #14 post, One-eyed Patch gets the #20 post, and long shot Lookin at Lee gets the dreaded rail spot.

Here are the starting positions for each horse:

Gate 1: Lookin at Lee

Gate 2: Thunder Snow

Gate 3: Fast and Accurate

Gate 4: Untrapped

Gate 5: Always Dreaming

Gate 6: State of Honor

Gate 7: Girvin

Gate 8: Hence

Gate 9: Irap

Gate 10: Gunnevera

Gate 11: Battle of Midway

Gate 12: Sonneteer

Gate 13: J Boys Echo

Gate 14: Classic Empire

Gate 15: McCraken

Gate 16: Tapwrit

Gate 17: Irish War Cry

Gate 18: Gormley

Gate 19: Practical Joke

Gate 20: Patch

Full field of 14 fillies set to run in 143rd Running of the Kentucky Oaks on Friday. Richard Mandella’s filly Paradise Woods entered as 5/2 morning-line favorite.

The Kentucky Oaks may not get the same clout and clamor as the Kentucky Derby, but I can promise you this, real horse racing people, racetrackers’ and handicappers’ alike, care just as much about the race for the fillies as they do about the one for the colts. The 2017 edition of the Kentucky Oaks is very similar to that of the Derby. A defection of the filly by the name of UNIQUE BELLA has caused the race to become wide open in the eyes of many. On the other hand, PARADISE WOODS, a 3-year-old filly by UNION RAGS, has stormed into the limelight after her dazzling 11-length victory in the Santa Anita Oaks one month ago. Her trainer, Richard Mandella said, “She’s come a long way, fast, with only three races.” By putting up flashy Beyer speed figure of 107 (Brisnet Speed Figure: 110), she has bypassed all of the questions about her lack of experience.

I will breakdown all fourteen Oaks horses and post them tomorrow, but a quick note about Paradise Woods. I definitely expect her to bounce. The question is how much will she regress? There are many questions when it comes to the 3-year-old crop of fillies this year. Many wanted to see UNIQUE BELLA run in the Santa Anita Derby prior to her injury. In my eyes, I think Paradise Woods is a great horse to bet against. There are many opportunities to make money.

Check back soon.

Kentucky Derby UPDATE: Trainer Joe Sharp has Derby in his cross-hairs after Girvin’s :59.3 five furlong work on Saturday.

GIRVIN – Sire: Tale of Ekati (Tale of the Cat)  Dam: Catch the Moon (Malibu Moon)

After hearing about Girvin’s quarter crack my first thought was he’s done, but then Saturday morning came about. A tweet from Joe Sharp stated that the fractions of Girvin’s five furlong workout were exceptional and that’s exactly what they were, exceptional. He looked like he isn’t feeling any problems in hit feet. With the defections of Malagacy and Battalion Runner, the Kentucky Derby field needed some good news and they got it from the Sharp entry. The Louisiana Derby winner clocked in a final work time of :59.3 at Keeneland Racecourse Saturday. As the 3-year-old with the most Derby qualification points, it would have been solemn news to hear he wasn’t pointing towards starting next week, but Sharp gave all indication that he will continue on schedule to start in the Derby.


It can be taken a number of ways when a horse takes time off of the track to work in an equine pool. Girvin did exactly that which gave indication that trainer Joe Sharp wanted him off of his feet as much as possible, but wanted to keep him in shape at the same time. The move may prove to be the key to getting Girvin into the Derby starting gate. Quarter cracks have been proven to be overcome in the past, and it looks like Girvin will be given the chance to prove his wins in Louisiana this Spring were no joke and in fact he is the horse to beat next Saturday. He currently sits anywhere from 12-1 to 20-1 in many early Derby odds boards.


I went into a breakdown of Girvin’s pedigree profile in a previous article


Right now, it appears that off of the recent work, it’s time to rethink where Girvin fits into the Derby picture and pace scenario.


MALAGACY and BATTALION drop out of the 2017 Kentucky Derby. LOOKIN AT LEE and SONNETEER next in line.

As predicted earlier in the week, Malagacy, a 3-year-old colt by Shackleford, opted out of the Kentucky Derby to point towards the Preakness Stakes. Stablemate of Malagacy, Battalion Runner, a 3-year-old colt by Unbridled’s song out of the Tapit mare Tamboz, also opted out of the Kentucky Derby after he put in a very poor workout on Friday.

Todd Pletcher did make it clear that Malagacy will train to run in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico which is run on May 20th.  Battalion Runner could also start in Maryland, but after the recent poor workout, he will have to show a lot more in the mornings before Pletcher decides to start him anywhere.

Lookin At Lee, a 3-year-old colt by Lookin At Lucky out of Langara Lass, has not shown a whole lot in his campaign as a 3-year-old, but his late running style could suit him well in the Kentucky Derby if he gets the pace scenario he needs. The problem is there may be better closers in the race, but it will all come down to who gets the trip needed.

Trainer Steve Asmussen uses a number of jockeys across the country, but he could stick with Luis Contreras. He has a high win percentage in route races and it can’t hurt to have a rider who knows how to save energy for the final three furlongs in a race that is run longer than any of these horses have ever gone.

Sonneteer, a 3-year-old colt by Midnight Lute out of Ours, earned a trip to the Kentucky Derby by getting his nose down on the wire ina the Rebel Stakes to earn 2nd place points. He then followed that up with an uninspiring 4th place effort in the Arkansas Derby that earned him enough points to be a fringe candidate for the Derby. Lucky enough for the Desormeaux clan, they have a shot to win on the first Saturday in May, but it’s an extremely long one. If Sonneteer cashes as the winner in the Derby, the IRS is going to have the biggest payday of anyone.

5 days left – the time is just flying by this year, Good luck handicapping!

For free past performances of the Kentucky Derby, check out other articles on my blog and website.

Also, if you are interested in getting a full package of picks and winners checkout the mainpage of my website –



Girvin injury likely to end his chances at starting in the Kentucky Derby. Lookin at Lee and Sonneteer await word of defection.

It’s really too bad. Joe Sharp and Rosie Napravnik-Sharp have pushed all the right buttons with their colt Girvin. The ever-common foot problems and quarter-cracks that have ended many a Derby-runners’ hopes at being draped in roses has taken aim at their horse. They have not announced it publicly, but it looks like it will end the couples chance at winning the Kentucky Derby this year.

If Malagacy and Girvin scratch – Lookin at Lee and Sonneteer will be next in line for the starting gate.

Which horses are going to MISS the Kentucky Derby?

This morning we got to see many of the Derby hopefuls hit the track at Churchill Downs.  Todd Pletcher sent out all five of his qualified horses and there was a big difference from top to bottom in the quality of their works. Classic Empire has looked decent on the track, but I wouldn’t call it the look of a champion. Gunnevera has looked prepared and decent since he showed up at Churchill. For a horse that has been in training since last Summer, Gunnevera is going to be more prepared and experienced then most horses in this field but he also may be a bit overused as a young racehorse.

Here are some surprising horses that I think will OPT OUT of the Kentucky Derby.

#1 – Malagacy

Sadly, I think this horses workout was simply just not good enough to change Todd Pletcher’s mind whether he should start on May 6th. I think he is a very good miler, but the distance is the biggest question mark. There is a very good chance Pletcher points Malagacy towards the Preakness or some other stakes race for 3-year-old’s that fit him a little better.

#2 – Patch or Battalion Runner

It was very apparent in Patch’s workout that he was not up to the class of Tapwrit. It looked like Tapwrit could put him away at any point, and I think that will trigger Todd Pletcher to start just three horses in the Derby. Patch could possibly still get the nod if Battalion Runner misses the Derby do to very lackluster performance this morning. Battalion Runner was very poor and looked like he had no interest in being on the track this morning. Pletcher needs to decide who he will send with Tapwrit and Always Dreaming or whether he only goes with the two. My personal opinion is that Battalion Runner should get the nod.

#3 – Girvin

We found out that Girvin has a quarter crack in one of his hooves and that is not what you want to hear leading up to the Derby. Foot problems have ended so many great horses chance at dawning the roses on the first Saturday of May. I feel bad for Joe Sharp and Rosie Sharp-Napravnik, I was really rooting for them. Hopefully, they can figure something out and get him the starting gate.

#4 – Cloud Computing

Has already announced that they are pointing in a different direction.

#5 – Conquest Mo Money

Was not nominated for the Triple Crown and will point to a later classic race or something else.

As of April 28th, the starting field for the Kentucky Derby looks like it will be this

  1. Classic Empire
  2. Irap
  3. Gormley
  4. Irish War Cry
  5. Thunder Snow(IRE)
  6. Always Dreaming
  7. Gunnevera
  8. Practical Joke
  9. J Boys Echo
  10. State of Honor
  11. Tapwrit
  12. Hence
  13. Fast and Accurate
  14. McCraken
  15. Battle of Midway
  16. Patch/Battalion Runner
  17. Untrapped
  18. Lookin At Lee
  19. Sonneteer
  20. Royal Mo

OUT: Cloud Computing, Conquest Mo Money

LIKELY OPT OUT: Girvin, Malagacy, Patch/Battalion Runner