The 141st running of the $1,000,000 Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) has drawn an exceptional field of fourteen, with Stellar Wind the morning line favorite at 7-2. Trained by John Sadler, the daughter of Curlin has been very impressive winning the Santa Ysabel Stakes (gr. III) and Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I) with eye-catching late rallies, and her recent Beyer speed figures mark her as a serious contender in this field. Given her pedigree, she should have no trouble handling the nine-furlong distance of the Kentucky Oaks, and drawing post 12 should enable her to work out a great trip staying clear of traffic.
However, there are a couple of longshots that I really like in the Oaks, those being the Fantasy Stakes (gr. III) 1-2 finishers Include Betty and Oceanwave. In the Fantasy, both fillies rallied extremely wide in the homestretch while posting terrific final five-sixteenths fractions of :30 and :30 1/5, respectively. Although both will be far behind early on, as is their usual running style, I think they have a strong chance to rally for the exotics at around 20-1 and 30-1.
I’m a Chatterbox swept the Kentucky Oaks prep races at Fair Grounds and showed great versatility in running style while doing so, but doesn’t have an edge over her rivals in terms of Beyer speed figures and might not relish the stretch-out to nine furlongs. She’s definitely a contender, but as one of the favorites, I’m going to try and beat her. Condo Commando also warrants respect as a three-time graded stakes winner, but she seemed to be tiring at the finish of the Gazelle Stakes (gr. II) after setting a slow pace, and if she is pressured in the early stages of the Kentucky Oaks, I don’t think she’ll be able to hold off the closers in the homestretch.
Lovely Maria was beaten in the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) by I’m a Chatterbox, but had a tougher trip racing close to a fast pace. She rebounded when shipped to Keeneland for the Ashland Stakes (gr. I), which she won by a decisive 3 1/4 lengths, and looks like a strong candidate for victory at around 5-1.
So to recap, I’ll take Stellar Wind as my selection for the Kentucky Oaks, with Include Betty, Oceanwave, and Lovely Maria my choices to round out the exotics. Good luck to all!