Thursday, May 3, 2018

Kentucky Oaks 2018: Notes on the Runners and Wagers

Unlike the Kentucky Derby, the Kentucky Oaks appears, on paper, to be a match race between two really good Fillies. Midnight Bisou and Monomoy Girl.  But I have a couple of other horses that I think might be able to upset the apple cart and who might come in at a price.  Let's look at the contenders....

1. Sassy Sienna (15-1): Ridden by veteran jock Gary Stevens this filly has a speed problem. A big speed problem in that her highest speed rating is a full 11 points behind the favorite and she obtained that three races ago, on a mile run. The post draw in the Oaks is not as big of a deal as in the Derby due to the smaller field but the inside is still a tough place to do business. This stalker/pacer might have trouble due to a lack of true tactical speed.

2. Coach Rocks (12-1): The horse that I think will come into this race as the "sharp" horse only has on Stakes race to her resume (the Grade II Gulfstream Park Oaks) but she did score an impressive closing win over Take Charge Paula, who was highly regarded going in, and will get her chance to rematch. Normally I fade the "sharp" horses in races but her odds might just be long enough to take a stab.

3. Classy Act (15-1): Came in a close second to Monomoy Girl in the Rachel Alexandra at Fair Grounds two starts ago but failed to replicate that in the Fair Grounds Oaks. This is a speed horse who should have a lot to say about the pace of this race but who I believe will falter at the distance. Like Firenze Fire on the male side I would love to see Classy Act become a miler and see what happens later in her career.

4. Chocolate Martini (12-1): Since being claimed on Feb 2nd this horse has gone win, win with two outstanding closing finishes in an Optional Claimer and the aforementioned Fair Ground Oaks. Oh, and neither of those races featured "perfect trips". IF the pace goes crazy (a possibility) then Chocolate Martini could be the horse that sweeps up the crumbs. Will definitely be a factor in my wagers.

5. Wonder Gadot (20-1): This filly has been heavily raced and her last race, a loss by a nose to Sassy Sienna was her best. The problem again is speed.  WG is a pacer who doesn't appear to have enough tactical speed to truly compete Still, might be a factor in my exotics near the bottom.

6. Kelly's Humor (30-1): No speed, and a poor history against horses of this caliber make for a tough ask. This horse would need to improve exponentially to be competitive. Her only stakes win is an overnight and her last competition against similar in this race was a 10th place Churchill Downs.  Yeesh.

7. Rayya (15-1): The best argument that people are making for this filly is that she finished 2nd to Mendelssohn. The problem is that she finished 2nd to Mendelssohn by 18 lengths. Of all her races the UAE Oaks win was the best but I think she's going to find herself up against it here.

8. Heavenhasmynikki (30-1): Normally, I would take a look a this horse, who's never won a stakes race but never finished lower than 4th and relegate her to a spot in the back of my exotics just in case. But then I saw the jockey.  Calvin Borel, or Bo-Rail, the jockey who's taken several horses at Churchill and ran them along the inside rail to victory.  She's been off for two months which could be a good thing. This is my long shot play.

9. Take Charge Paula (15-1): In my opinion Take Charge Paula is the best of the "other" horses in this race that aren't the two favorites. She's a pacing horse that has flashed the speed to keep up with the big two and has an outside chance of winning.  Yes, the's come in 2nd recently but she did reel off three straight stakes wins (two were overnights) including a pretty good win over My Miss Lilly.

10. Midnight Bisou (5-2): The 2nd most decorated horse in this field although I would argue that strength of competition is a slight concern. Still, this horse has improved in every start since the first one and if that trend continues she should be rumbling down the stretch to challenge for the win.

11. My Miss Lilly (10-1): After a huge jump in performance in the Gazelle My Miss Lilly is, to me, the most difficult horse in this race to handicap.  Was the Gazelle an aberration or was it a sign that Mark Hennig has her firing on all cylinders?  I'm always leery about a horse's next race after a jump like that. How much did it take out of her?

12. Patrona Margarita (30-1): Her best win is over Kelly's Humor, but against other horses in this race she finished far behind.  I don't see the tactical speed here to make a deep run unless there's a speed duel in front of her and she gets the trip to claw up ground. Her biggest problem is that I think there's a better closing option in this race with Chocolate Martini.

13. Eskimo Kisses (15-1): Another late charger that's going to have to hope for a speed duel and that she is the one to pick up the crumbs. This is a horse that I can see coming in 3rd or 4th with no problem, but 1st or 2nd might be a stretch.

14. Monomoy Girl. (2/1): A worthy 2-1 M/L favorite you could see a situation where Monomoy Girl jumps out to the front of this race and never looks back.  My feeling is she's going to go off at somewhere around 7/5 or 6/5 so the smart play is going to be to be to bet against her and if you get beaten by a favorite so what.

My bets:

$10 Win - 10 - Midnight Bisou - Ideally I'll be able to get around 4-1 at post time.
$5 Win - 4 - Chocolate Martini  - Hoping for a price here.
$2 WPS ($6 total) - 8 - Heavenhasmynikki - I've lost too many times to a Borel long shot at Churchill
$2 - Exacta Box -10/14. Box the two favorites in case it's a match race.

$2 Oaks/Derby DD - 14 Monomoy Girl & 10 Midnight Bisou with 7 Justify & 5 Audible

This double is fairly cheap and gives me the top two choices in both races.

$25 Total investment.

Good luck however you play.

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