Handicapping the Kentucky Oaks – analysis and wagering

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The Kentucky Oaks, which will run at Churchill Downs Friday, May 3, is one of the most competitive fields we’ve seen in the past few years. At first glance, it’s a one-horse race. At second glance, maybe a couple more. The longer you analyze the field, the harder it becomes to narrow in on the winner.

The obvious choice, and the lukewarm favorite at a morning line of 3-1, is Dreaming of Julia. The Todd Pletcher trained daughter of A.P. Indy exits a win in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks on the Florida Derby undercard. She bested the field by nearly 22 lengths and earned a Brisnet speed figure of 107. Her performance was reminiscent of Rachel Alexandra’s romp in the 2009 Kentucky Oaks. Under a hand-ride, with little urging, Dreaming of Julia decimated the field which included the very talented Live Lively. Jockey John Velazquez, who’s been out the last few weeks with an injury, will be aboard for Friday's race.

Dreaming of Julia is clearly at the top of her form and boasts the fastest last race speed figure, but the Kentucky Oaks includes the top three-year-old fillies running and, as such, anything can happen.

One would think a 107 Brisnet speed figure by a three-year-old a quarter into the year, would be the top among her rivals, but Richard Mandella’s Beholder turned in a 110 in an allowance race prior to her Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies win in November. Yes, that means she accomplished that at age two. Given, it was a six furlong sprint and she was the easy favorite, but if she’s capable of it once, she could hit it again. In three starts this year she’s finished first two times and second once. Her last two victories came in Grade 1 events—the Santa Anita Oaks and the Las Virgines, both at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Cal. Garret Gomez will be in the irons.

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