The betting action on Kentucky Oaks Day gets underway early this morning, with a 10:30am ET post time for the opening race on the 12-race card.
The card will serve as a great warm-up for Saturday, where a field of twenty three-year-olds will go in a wide open 138th running of the Kentucky Derby (G1).
The ladies take center stage on Friday with a competitive field of 14 going in the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (G1), one of six stakes on the betting menu.
The stakes action starts with the sixth race, which is also the opening leg of the Pick 6, getting started with the $300,000 La Troien (G2) for fillies and mares.
The 2011 Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty, trained by hall of famer Bob Baffert is the 4-5 morning line favorite and if she runs back to her good looking Apple Blossom (G1) win at Oaklawn Park on April 13, the rest of the field will be running for second money.
The seven furlong $100,000 Eight Belles (G3) drew a field of eight three-year-old fillies led by Baffert’s Contested, who ships in from Santa Anita off a strong win against allowance company.
Exotic players may want to go deep in the eighth race, the $150,000 Edgewood, which drew a full field of 14 plus one also-eligible.
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G2) winner Stephanie’s Kitten is the 2-1 morning line favorite, but I am looking elsewhere for betting value.
The $300,000 Alysheba (G2) drew a strong field of older runners including Mucho Macho Man, who is perfect in three starts since returning off a layoff after running in each Triple Crown races last spring.
The $200,000 American Turf (G2) is one of the best betting races on the card, drawing a full field of three-year-olds who will go 1 1/16 miles on the grass.
There is a 40% chance of a few thunderstorms throughout the day and right through Saturday, but I am hoping Mother Nature spares us from an off track.
My Best Plays Report for Friday includes my eight strongest plays from Belmont Park and Churchill Downs.
To purchase my full card report for Churchill Downs for Kentucky Oaks Day click here
To purchase my full card report for Belmont Park click here
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Belmont Park:
Belmont Park Race 9 OClm $25,000N2X (5:06 ET)
8 Harbor Mist 4-1
6 Princess Mara 6-1
7 Newbie 7-2
9 Freud's Notebook 3-1
Analysis: Harbor Mist was up on the pace and could not finish late in a third place finish going long on the grass at this level at the Big A. The filly beat starter state bred allowance condition foes two back on grass but her pedigree suggests dirt may actually be her preferred surface. She won a stake against state breds last year on the main track at the Spa in her third career start. She has not been able to run back to that fig since, but I like the surface switch and a wet track would be a plus.
Princess Mara stalked the early pace and weakened to finish fifth last out in her turf debut. She won her first two career starts, both on the inner track at Aqueduct. She has good tactical speed and the cut back to a one turn mile on dirt figures to suit this gal.
WIN: #8 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 6,8 / 6,7,8,9
TRI: 6,8 / 6,7,8,9 / 3,6,7,8,9
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Churchill Downs:
Churchill Downs Race 11 The Kentucky Oaks G1 (5:45 ET)
Grace Hall 5-2
And Why Not 15-1
Jemina's Pearl 10-1
Broadway's Alibi 4-1
Analysis: Grace Hall is going to likely go off as the favorite here but she is the one to beat coming off a very impressive looking win in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) in her last outing. The filly ran well over the main track here last fall in a runner up finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). She was upset in the Davona Dale (G2) two back by 64-1 Yara, but she was making her first start off a 3 1/2 month break. The Tony D. filly appears to be sitting on a top effort here in her third start of her current form cycle.
And Why Not did not fire last out in the Gulfstream Park Oaks at 5-1, but it was her first go off a five month layoff. The filly showed plenty of promise as a juvenile, checking in third behind our to pick in the Spinaway (G1) in her first go against winners, and a game runner up finish in the Pocahontas (G2) over the main track here last fall going a one turn mile. The winner of that race was On Fire Baby, who came back to win the Golden Rod (G2) in her next start on Nov. 26 and most recently won the Honeybee (G2) at Oaklawn Park. The Michael Matz trainee drilled a bullet work on April 24 over the main track and Leparoux sticks. She should give a better account of herself second off the bench and the 15-1 morning line looks more than fair.
Jemina's Pearl is one of two in here sent out by the Bob Baffert barn. The filly started off her career in Ireland winning one of five starts, and then beat Alw-1 optional claimers in her U.S. debut at Santa Anita off a five month layoff. She shipped to Oaklawn Park for the Fantasy (G2) and ran pretty well. She broke outward stalked the early pace from the outside and was making up ground late in a third place finish, beaten two lengths for the top spot. The extra ground here should suit this gal.
Broadway's Alibi brings plenty of speed to the party, having gone gate to wire to win the Forward Gal (G2) at Gulfstream Park and the Comely (G3) last out at Aqueduct. There is plenty of other early zip in here and the main question mark is whether she can handle the extra furlong. She is by Vindication out of the stakes winner Broadway Gold ($166K) who did her best work sprinting.
WIN: Grace Hall to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 2,10 / 2,6,8,10
TRI: 2,10 / 2,6,8,10 / 1,2,4,6,8,10
These are price plays for exotic players looking to find a couple of extra contenders to use in their trifecta and superfecta wagers. Or for those with smaller bankrolls, you might want to get in a small win-place wager.
R3: #4 Saltamontes 10-1
R4: #7 David the Great 8-1
R8: #5 Mr. Ast 10-1
R10: #9 Glorious Union 12-1
Good luck today!