Review of Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 3

A full field of 14 is in for Friday’s Kentucky Oaks, for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on dirt for a $1.25 million purse. Bellafina, on paper, is the one to beat, but she’ll need to prove herself against in a race that includes division champion Jaywalk, the speedy Serengeti Empress and Lady Apple.

Race 11. Churchill Downs.  Post time is 6:12 p.m. ET.

Entries:

PP       Filly       Jockey            Trainer M/L
1 Out for a Spin Irad Ortiz Jr. Dallas Stewart 15/1
2 Chocolate Kisses Julien Leparoux Mark Casse 20/1
3 Lady Apple Ricardo Santana Jr. Steve Asmussen 20/1
4 Bellafina Flavien Prat Simon Callaghan 2/1
5 Flor de La Mar Joel Rosario Bob Baffert 20/1
6 Positive Spirit Manny Franco Rodolphe Brisset 30/1
7 Jaywalk Jaywalk John Servis 8/1
8 Motion Emotion Mike Smith Tom Van Berg 15/1
9 Liora Channing Hill Wayne Catalano 20/1
10 Champagne Anyone Chris Landeros Ian Wilkes 6/1
11 Jeltrin Luis Saez Alexis Delgado 15/1
12 Street Band Sophie Doyle Larry Jones 15/2
13 Serengeti Empress Jose Ortiz Tom Amoss 8/1
14 Restless Rider Brian Hernandez Jr. Kenny McPeek 6/1
Also Eligible
15 Dunbar Road Jose Ortiz Chad Brown 5/1
16 Point of Honor John Velazquez George Weaver 30/1

 

  1. Out for a Spin has posted three wins and a third in four races and she won the Keeneland’s Ashland (GI) at 52-1. She will have more than she can conquer in the Oaks. She is a nice allowance and Black Type stakes filly, but she is out classed in this race. She should not be a factor at the wire.
  2. Chocolate Kisses won two straight heading into the Ashland but showed little in the Ashland. She made three of her first six starts on grass and found  success on that surface. She won on the dirt Honeybee Stakesat Oaklawn Parkin March. She benefited from a fast by closing from far back to win by a length. She raced nearer to the front in the Central Bank Ashland Stakes and finished in a sixth-place finish. She should enjoy the pace from the forwardly placed and the pace could set up her late kick. She has a chance of being on the board.
  3. Lady Apple raced four times in 2018. This year she is 3-for-3, looking much improved when she shot up the rail to win Oaklawn Park’s Fantasy Stakes (G2) by two lengths. She will need an honest pace to setup her closing kick down the lane. She should finish in top five.
  4. Bellafina won three of five starts as a 2-year-old, including a pair of Grade I races, and won her first three starts of 2019. Bellafina enters the Oaks off a 5 1/4 length victory in the Santa Anita Oaks after a three-quarter-length win in the Las Virgenes Stakes and a victory in the Santa Ynez Stakes in her season debut. She was defeated last fall at Churchill Downs, but she had an excuse that day, being in reproductive heat. More concerning, if you’re going with the favorite, is that she faced off in three starts against fields of four or five, including herself. She also has registered higher figures at distances shorter than the race distance. She should be forwardly pace but stalking the lead pack. She should finish in top two.
  5.  Flor de La Mar ran second in the Santa Anita Oaks (G1), this lightly raced  runner has performed well, but only on fast tracks. She has tactical speed that should allow her to find a nice tracking position. If Friday is a fast, dry track it would not take a major jump for her to compete for a top-three finish. However, in case of rain on Friday as predicted she’s one to fade to the back of the field.
  6. Positive Spirit was restless in the starting gate and ran poorly badly in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes. She has been pretty consistent with two wins, two seconds, and one third in her other five starts. On the other hand, that was probably the deepest, most talented field she has faced in her career was in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes and she was beaten by 25 lengths. However, she  rebounded to run second by 1 3/4 lengths in the Grade 2 Gazelle Stakes. She should be forwardly placed but should fade down the backstretch. She should not be a factor at the wire.
  7. Jaywalk  finished second in her career debut but then won four straight wins, capped off with a 5 1/2 length victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies that clinched the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old filly.  She was defeated in both her starts to open this season. She finished third in her last race the Ashland. She will be one of the pacesetters, but she will be tested the entire race and the 1 1/8-mile distance is a question as she’s faded late in her two races this season. She is fast enough to win but she will fade and finish in top six
  8. Motion Emotion will try to set the pace along with the other speed fillies. In 2019 she has two wins and two seconds in four starts, all at Oaklawn Park. She was tracked down and finished second in consecutive stakes at Oaklawn leading into the Oaks. She’s fast enough to be a serious contender, but she faded late twice at 1 1/16 miles, her stamina is a concern stretching out an extra sixteenth of a mile. She has a chance of finishing in top seven
  9.  Liora showed promise as a 2-year-old when closing her season with back-to-back wins, including a nose victory in the Golden Rod Stakes at Churchill Downs, where she is 2-for-2 on the main track. She is winless in three starts in stakes races this year with runner-up finishes in both the Rachel Alexandra Stakes and the Fair Grounds Oaks. She has Grade II win over this track and, notably, in the slop. She will be staling the leaders and try to out the field down the lane. Rain will improve her chances of being on the board. She should be in the top eight if track is fast and dry.
  10. Champagne Anyone enters off a career-best effort to win the Gulfstream Park Oaks on March 30. In that race she added blinkers to improve her focus and raced much closer to the pace than she had in six previous starts before edging away late to win by a half-length. Prior to the Gulfstream Park Oaks, she run third in the  3 Forward Gal Stakes and Davona Dale Stakes, both at Gulfstream. She has the versatility to drop back and make one run if the pace is especially fast or she could sit just behind the early speed. The faster the pace the better are her chances are for finishing on the board. She should finish in the top five.
  11. Jeltrin was the 51-1 winner of Gulfstream’s Davona Dale (GII). She hasn’t raced since then and will make her two-turn debut in the Oaks. She’s has won going gate-to- wire in a sprint in her second start and has won from off the pace. She is out classed in this field and should not be a factor at the wire.
  12. Street Band won two of her first six races, one was a nose victory in a one-mile and 70-yard allowance race in her 2019 debut. She ran fourth in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes at Fair Grounds in February. She showed improvement in March when she won the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2),  her first graded stakes victory. She be following the pacesetters around the final turn and be able to finish in the top six.
  13. Serengeti Empress won the Ellis Park Debutante by 13 ½ lengths last August and the Pocahontas Stakesat Churchill Downs by 19 ½ lengths in September at Churchill Downs. She ran seventh in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. In her 3-year-old debut, she was able to set the pace and win by 4 1 /2 lengths romp in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes. In her last race, she was pulled up due to bleeding issue. If she sits off the pace her chances and has no bleeding issues she should  finish in top two.
  14. Restless Rider posted three dominant wins and three seconds from six starts as a 2-year-old. She won the Darley Alcibiades at Keeneland and ran second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. She made her 3-year-old debut off a 4 1/2 month break in the Central Bank Ashland Stakes at Keeneland on April 6. She should improve off that race and have an increase in stamina. She has two wins and two seconds on the main track at Churchill. She has been very consistent in seven races. With improvement , she has a chance of finishing in the top three.  improve.

Also Eligible:
Dunbar Road and Point of Honor are both listed as also eligibles and could gain entry into the field before the 9 a.m. ET Friday scratch deadline in that order of preference.

Dunbar Road has only raced twice in her career, romping by 8 3/4 lengths in her March 3 debut at Gulfstream Park and then finishing second by a half-length in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks. She has enough speed to stalk the leaders and could provide an interesting chase of the leaders down the lane. She has, if scratches-in, a chance of being on the board.

Point of Honor ran fourth in Gulfstream Park Oaks. She won the Tampa Bay Downs’ Suncoast Stakes two back. If she scratches-in, she will not be a factor.

Our Top Three Picks:

 

  • Bellafina
  • Serengeti Empress
  • Restless Rider

 

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