Kentucky Oaks Racecard Preview

Well, the big race, The Run for the Roses, is almost upon us but today we have a most fantastic hors d’oeuvres in the Kentucky Oaks along with a fantastic undercard of 5 sumptuous graded stakes races starting with race 6 the La Troienne Stakes at 1.26pm ET. Let’s look at each race in turn:

Race: R6 La Troienne Stakes

Grade: Grade 1

Age: 4 year old and up fillies and mares

Distance: 1 mile and a 1/16

Purse: $300,000

A fantastic Grade 1 race for older fillies and mares to start with Curalina and Sheer Drama vying for Morning line favoritism, with local oddsmake, Mike Bottaglia, just siding with Sheer Drama at 8/5. The case for Sheer Drama is sound. She has already raced this year, winning a very high quality Grade 1 (The Madison) at Keeneland while Curalina has not raced since the Breeders’ Cup.

The quality of the Madison field was there for all to see with plenty of Breeders’ Cup form in the opposition so there can be no doubting the quality of Sheer Drama’s win. If she has come out of that hard race in the same condition, it is hard to envisage defeat.

There isn’t a huge amount of depth to the race outside the first two in the market but Penwith has good early speed and may be able to dictate the fractions in what may be a tactical race.

Race: R7 Eight Belles Stakes

Grade: Grade 2

Age: 3 year old fillies

Distance: 7 furlongs

Purse: $200,000

Eight fillies face the starter in this 7 furlong grade 2 event. Bill Mott’s talented Carina Mia is the Morning Line favorite at 8/5. Her goal was the Oaks but she didn’t make the cut and has been handed the Eight Belles as a consolation prize.

This is 2 furlongs shorter than the Oaks but she has plenty of speed and connections are not concerned about the trip. She has not had much luck in he preparation this year with an illness and then a quarantine problem but she ran well in the Ashland (Grade 1) at Keeneland and that should put her spot on for today’s race. She does look a cut above the opposition if she is fully fit.

Race: R8 Twin Spires Turf Sprint Stakes

Grade: Grade 3

Age: 3 year old and up

Distance: 5 furlongs (Turf)

Purse: $150,000

Lovers of turf sprints over the speedball trip of 5 furlongs are well served today with the the Twin Spires Sprint. Hootenanny, trained by the irrepressible Wesley Ward, is the 7/2 ML favorite in what looks an open race. He was a 2 year old winner of a listed race at Royal Ascot and went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. However, he doesn’t seem to be living up to his two year old form and looks a bit short at that price.

Nyquist’s trainer, Doug O’Neill, is also well represented here with Guns Loaded (ML 4/1). He is in fantastic form and is chasing his fourth win in a row. The only doubt is looks better at 6 furlongs and things may just be happening a bit too quick for him today.

With doubts about a number of the principals here (eg Power Alert can be electric but can put in the occasional shocker due to bleeding) this looks a race to watch so keep those stakes low.

Race: R9 Alysheba Stakes

Grade: Grade 2

Age: 4 year old and up

Distance: 1 mile and a 1/16

Purse: $400,000

This valuable Grade 2 race sees the rematch between Eagle (ML 7/2) and Noble Bird (4/1). Last time out, in Keeneland’s Ben Ali Stakes, Noble Bird set the pace but Eagle was able to close him down and won a shade comfortably by 1 ¼ lengths. This time they meet at their home track, Churchill Downs.

Eagle has been holding his form well for some time if not perhaps improving as his Beyer from the Ben Ali was his best ever at 101. Connections are confident he is still in the same form although there must be some concern about asking him to perform two races in a row with just a three week prior interval.

Noble Bird doesn’t have to lead so jockey Julien Leparoux may try and get a position this time, while, of the others, Cat Burglar is interesting. Yes he was well beaten by Noble Bird in the Stephen Foster but has really been on the improve since then, posting two Beyers in excess of 100 in his last two runs.

Race: R10 Edgewood Stakes

Grade: Grade 3

Age: 3 year old fillies

Distance: 1 mile and a 1/16

Purse: $150,000

All eyes will be on Catch a Glimpse in this Grade 3 event, restricted to three year old fillies. She is an improving potential star in the making and is bidding for her sixth win in her row while being unbeaten in all her turf starts. Trainer Mark Casse is very impressed and is comparing her in some ways to Tepin!

She seems very versatile as to run style and different track types seem to hold no fears. The only slight concern is the 10 draw but Florent Geroux should be able to get her in a good position. The race looks hers to lose although Outsider Art is interesting if the price is right if she can build on her last run.

Race: R11 Kentucky Oaks

Grade: Grade 1

Age: 3 year old fillies

Distance: 1 mile and a 1/8

Purse: $1,000,000

The big race of the night has unfortunately been robbed of some of its lustre by the withdrawal of hot ante-post favorite, Songbird, due to a fever. Looking on the bright side, this has made the race much more interesting as a contest as several useful fillies have been confirmed for the race now that Songbird is no longer running.

A maximum field of 14 runners face the starter in this intriguing event with Rachels Valentina the current favorite at 7/2. She is poignantly the only filly produced by the wonderful Rachel Alexandra, who recorded that jaw-dropping 20 length win in the 2009 renewal of this race.

Second favoritism is held by Cathryn Sophia, who would probably have been the market leader but for a disappointing run when beaten at Keeneland in April when sent off the 1/2 favorite. If she can put that run behind her, she has some excellent collateral form.

Doug O’Neill, trainer of Derby favorite Nyquist, has a live contender in Land Over Sea. She has run two good Beyers in her last two races but a tricky draw in box 13 is a bit of a concern.

An interesting outsider is Go Maggie Go, available at around the 12/1 to 14/1 mark. She has only raced twice but is unbeaten having followed up her maiden win with victory in the Gulfstream Park Oaks by 2 ¼ lengths. She could be anything and, providing she handles the preliminaries, looks worth a small stakes bet.

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