At the Gate - Kentucky Oaks
May 3, 2013
By Mike Dempsey
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Over the next two days at Churchill Downs we have 25 races to wager on; a dozen on Oaks Day and another 13 on Derby Day, and it really does not get much better than this.
I spent most of the past two days handicapping both cards, and after printing out my reports (which total 18 pages) I had to head off to Office Depot to replace my toner. I have not even made a bet yet and I am $40 bucks in the red.
The weather looks fine for Friday with just a 10% chance of rain, but Saturday is not looking as good. As of Thursday night this is the forecast for Saturday according to The Weather Channel:
Rain showers in the morning will evolve into a more steady rain in the afternoon. High near 60F. Winds ESE at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 80%. Rainfall may reach one inch.
It looks as if we could have a wet track on Saturday afternoon and the turf figures to be less than firm, but there is one thing I know since I follow the weather forecast every day: They are seldom accurate.
So there is still some hope the weather turns out better, but at least at this point, it does not look promising.
Friday’s Oaks card gets underway with a first post of 10:30am ET. Post time for the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) is 5:45 ET and will be televised live on the NBC Sports Network during a one-hour telecast that gets underway at 5:00 ET.
It is a very good betting card with five supporting stakes. Here is a quick look at the early stakes action:
Race 6 The La Trioenne: Seven fillies and mares will line up in this 1 1/16 mile route on the main track. Last year’s Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Believe You Can is the 7-5 morning line favorite, with Apple Blossom (G1) victor On Fire Baby (8-5) looking like the major danger.
Race 7 The Edgewood: A wide open field of 11 three-year-old fillies will line up and go 1 1/16 miles on the turf course. The well-bred Tokyo Time is the 3-1 morning line favorite off a neck loss in the Herecomesthebride (G3) last out for trainer Shug McGaughey.
Race 8 The Eight Belles: A full field of 14 three-year-old fillies will line up and go seven furlongs on the main track. The Bill Mott trainee Calistoga is the 7-2 morning line favorite but drew the 14 post. Fusaichiswonderful (9-2) and Blueeyesintherein (6-1) are coming off stakes wins and So Many Ways (6-1) won the Spinaway (G1) last year.
Race 9 The Alysheba: A field of nine older runners will go 1 1/16 miles on the main track. The McGaughey trained Hymn Book is the 3-1 morning line favorite and is making his first start since running fifth in the Cigar Mile (G1) last fall. It is tough to separate last year’s Florida Derby (G1) winner Take Charge Indy (4-1), New Orleans Handicap (G2) third place finisher Bourbon Courage (4-1) and Oaklawn Handicap (G2) winner Cyber Secret (7-2).
Race 10 The American Turf: A field of 13 three-year-olds will do battle in this turf race led by Noble Tune (3-1) who was the runner up in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). It’s a wide open race with six runners in the field making their stakes debuts.
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Here is today’s opening from Churchill Downs to get the day off to a good start:
CD Race 1 OClm $75,000N1X (10:30 ET)
3 Assets of War 8-1
2 Liberated 2-1
7 Natural Rush 4-1
6 Anahauc 3-1
Analysis: Assets of War switches back to dirt after making a good late rally to finish third last out on poly at Keeneland at this level. Three back on her last go over a fast main track he ran a good second at Fair Grounds, beaten just a half-length for the top spot. The Neil Howard trainee adds blinkers here and that should help her be a bit close to the front here early. She broke her maiden over the main track here in her debut last fall.
Liberated tracked the early pace, came with a four wide run and could not catch a loose on the lead gate to wire winner last out in a runner up finish against Alw-1 foes at Keeneland going seven furlongs. The filly was making her first start off a 4 1/2 month layoff. The filly earned the top last out speed fig and the stretch out to two turns will suit. He has plenty of pedigree to handle the stretch out, by Curlin out of a Colonial Affair mare.
WIN: #3 to win at 9-2 or better.
EX: 2,3 / 2,3,6,7
TRI: 2,3 / 2,3,6,7 / 1,2,3,6,7
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Churchill Downs:
CD Race 11 The Kentucky Oaks G1 (5:45 ET)
2 Midnight Lucky 9-2
4 Unlimited Budget 7-2
8 Dreaming of Julia 3-1
11Close Hatches 6-1
Analysis: Midnight Lucky is one of three undefeated fillies in this stellar field and perhaps has the most upside as she makes just her third career start here. She earned a 100 Beyer breaking her maiden at Santa Anita and then won the Sunland Oaks in her first go against winners, drawing off to win by eight lengths. The fifth and sixth place finishers came out of the race to win next out, a maiden and a first level optional claiming win. She steps into a much tougher spot here but is looks as if we are going to catch a fair price. Trainer Bob Baffert has won the Oaks twice, the most recent coming in 2011 with Plum Pretty.
Unlimited Budget is also undefeated and is one of four in here that will be saddled by Todd Pletcher. She drew off to win the Fair Ground Oaks (G2) last out in a good looking effort over a couple of foes she faces her again. She owns solid early and mid pace numbers and figures to be sitting just off the pace. Fair Grounds Oaks winners have fared well in this race, the most recent to win both races being Rachel Alexandra in 2009 and Believe You Can last year. She has moved forward in each of her starts and in her third start of her current form cycle appears to be sitting on another career top.
Dreaming of Julia trounced the field in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) by 21 3/4 lengths and earned a 114 Beyer, which is nine points higher than the top fig earned by Derby favorite Verrazano. It is 21 points higher than her previous high, so maybe it is on the generous side? The fifth place finisher in the race was Emollient, who came back to win the Ashland (G1) at Keeneland on April 6 with a 97 Beyer, which seems to indicate that perhaps the big fig is legit. The 3-1 morning line looks fair enough, but I am thinking she goes off more like 9-5.
Flashy Gray is going to scratch due to a bruised foot.
WIN: #2 to win at 7-2 or better.
EX: 2,4 / 2,4,8,11
TRI: 2,4 / 2,4,8,11 / 2,4,8,9,11
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.
R1: #3 Assets of War 8-1
R2: #11 Adventure At Sea 8-1
R3: #8 Noble Charlotte 15-1
R5: #11 Mary Bernice 12-1
R5: #9 Storm Crossing 12-1
R7: #4 Judy in Disguise 10-1
R8: #3 Blueeyestherein 8-1
R10: #10 Fire Guard 8-1
R10: #12 Redwood Kitten 8-1
Good luck today!
HORSE RACING EXPERT
Mike covers the New York racing circuit (Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga) year round as well as Keeneland, Churchill Downs, the Triple Crown, and the Breeders’ Cup.
Last Year Mike had a solid Triple Crown, correctly picking the winning horse in 2 of 3 races. He selected I'll Have another to win The Preakness, and nailed Union Rags to win the Belmont Stakes as his top pick.
Mike has also had past succes in the Kentucky Derby, winning with Animal Kingdom in 2011 and rode his top picks, Super Saver and Street Sense, to the finish line in 2010 and 2007 respectively.
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