2014 Kentucky Oaks Staff Picks

Andy Lyons

It's time for STAFF PICKS!!!

Our writers here at ADTSTC breakdown the stakes action on Oaks Day:

Siva's #3 Rose

La Troienne:

Overall:  On Fire Baby only ran bad once at Churchill, and that was on Oaks Day somewhat against the bias.  She should be the outside speed and her Pocahontas win at 2 showed she can pass if the 4 and 5 decide to send.

Longshot:  Molly Morgan has a good record on the grounds, although against cheaper competition.  Corey Lanerie has also started off well at the beginning of the meet, which helps.  Not expecting to blow up the tote board if she fires, but she's worth a play.

Turf Sprint:

Overall/Longshot:  He had a trouble trip on a Del Mar turf course in the Oceanside that often favors closers in the early part of the meet last year.  Beyond that, he's a stout 2/2 on the lawn, including a 10 length victory on the grounds.  Putting the bulk of the play on Undrafted to either use early speed or make one run coming off of two-turn races.

Eight Belles:

Overall:  This race looks like it can't help but set up for She's A Tiger to win it, considering she draws the far outside post in a long sprint at Churchill.  It might be asking a bit first off the shelf to win at 7 panels, but I can't make too strong a case for the others to steal it from her.

Longshot:  I prefer to see if I can at least get a price underneath She's A Tiger, if not a viable alternative for a win bet.  I believe that Mufajaah could be live with a top effort.  Her last effort was a toss after a bad trip at Oaklawn; her previous two wins puts her in the mix for a placing.  Perhaps a win if the pace melts down and She's A Tiger doesn't fire.

Edgewood:

Overall/Longshot:  I'm not convinced that any of the favorites have a proven ability to rate in this one.  So, I'm going for Ramsey/Rosario/Chad Brown at an unusually high price in Granny's Mc's Kitten.  She ran a better-than-it-looked second on the 11th of April when speed was terrible at Keeneland on the Polytrack.  An improvement off of that with a return to her PG Johnson win at the Spa last Summer would see her fit nicely in the race, especially if the pace is hot.  Of the speed, Julien Leparoux aboard Resistivity is the likeliest to pass of the bunch that appears to want the lead early on in the running.

Alysheba:

Going with Will Take Charge for top play with Normandy Invasion's scratch.  He won the Clark impressively, and only seems to be getting better with time.  His second to Game on Dude was forgivable since that was an uber-speed track.  Not overthinking it for the #1 selection here.

Kentucky Oaks:

Overall:  I can't really look past Untapable if she's anywhere near her best.  She's beaten the other favorites in here soundly and figures to create her own trip from the far outside, which is usually far preferable to the inside posts on most Oaks Days.  Value in here will likely come from the exotics rather than the win/place/show.

Longshot:  Although she is guilty of "second-itis," Got Lucky is as good as the rest of these on her day.  She ought to appreciate the longer going and long stretch at Churchill Downs.  I still believe that Untapable is the one to beat by a wide margin, but Got Lucky is a nice underneath horse and could pick up the pieces late.

TFTribe

La Troienne-
Pick- 6- On Fire Baby
Value- 1- Molly Morgan

On Fire Baby is 3rd off the layoff and she has basically only recently been beat by Close Hatches, and there is no shame in that. She looks to be the best that will attend the pace and run past them in the stretch. But if it does fall apart, and there is that possibility, look for the 1-Molly Morgan to pick up the pieces, and at 10/1, I'll take that price.

Twinspires Turf Sprint-
Pick- 3- Stormofthecentury
Value- 6- Positive Side

I love the turn of foot the 3 has, and while he may be best on off going, he does look to get a good trip just off the speed. Looks like 4 horses want the lead in the 1,4,7,8,  so it has the possibility to come back to a closer, and the 6 should relish in that role. I'm trying to beat Havelock here, who will be a major underlay.

Eight Belles-
Pick- 7- Fiftyshadesofgold
Value- 1-Whomping Willow

The 7 is really good. If you look at her two disappointing runs, she was checked hard in both starts, first in the Adirondack (I was there, she checked HARD) and in the troubled run of the BC Juvenile Fillies. She's the little Texas-bred that can. Now Whomping Willow (great name, btw) shows really interesting form. If you toss the experiments when they ran her on the lawn, the plastic, and/or around 2 turns you see a very distinct patter than shows solid and marked improvement. I absolutely love the 12/1 price on her and will include her on all vertical bets.

Edgewood-
Pick- 5- Little Journey
Value - 5- Little Journey

While I think Istanford is best in here (and there is a possibility that he's still playable) I absolutely love the fist US start with Chad Brown Angle. Plus, the 5's beset running came at Hyeres, which is an oval course in the South of France. 9f there goes around 2 turns, so it's not an unknown of him liking the course. However, the going is an issues, as French turf's soft is kind of a swimming pool, but I'm more than willing to take a shot here.

Alysheba-
Pick- 2- WTC
Value- 1- Moonshine Mullin

WTC is the real deal, his only two recent losses coming on tracks that were severely biased towards speed on the front end. He's a machine and I'd be hard pressed to take Normandy Invasion over him when WTC passed him in the Oaklawn Handicap when they were neck and neck coming into the stretch. But if anyone can steal it, it'll be on the front end and the 1 is the speed here. Appealing Tale is fast too, but he did his front end running at SA, where he's got a built in advantage due to the track.

Oaks-
Pick- 13- Untapable
Value- 9- Unbridled Forever

I can't possibly pick against Untapable. She'd be the 2nd favorite in the Derby had she entered. But I think I can find value if she can't repeat her performances in the Big Easy (which she should be able to) by looking to a horse that should sit on her hip and could beat the rest to the wire in the 9-Unbridled Forever. Now I'm not optimistic that this will actually happen, but it's the only scenario I can see someone not named Untapable winning.

JP Fanshawe

Race 8-The Eight Belles Stakes


Top: 7-Fiftyshadesofgold
Also: 1-Whomping Willow

10-She's A Tiger and 4-Our Amazing Rose figure to dominate the tote board, but I think there are reasons to try to beat both of them. Despite She's A Tiger having an immense edge in back class and never having finished worse than second in six career starts, she hasn't been seen for six months, has a middling work tab, and is doing something as a favortie that she has never done before: run outside of California. Bonde also hits at just 13% when 90-days-plus away.  Our Amazing Rose takes a decent step up for trainer Todd Pletcher and has numbers fast enough to win, but the class rise coupled with an extra furlong have me looking elsewhere.   My top selection is 7-Fiftyshadesofgold.  Bret Calhoun is only winning 8 percent of his Graded Stakes, but Fiftyshadesofgold has a win over the track and a win at the distance, which always draws my attention at the sort-of-special distance of 7 furlongs.  She cuts back in distance, keeps Mike Smith aboard, and three strong works lead her in.  I also like 1-Whomping Willow.  She drops a level here, and what, she was beaten 30 lengths last out, you say?  Well, I have always liked to play horses that ran on or near the lead at the second call and then backed up in their most recent start, especially if they are cutting back in distance.  Also, her first two starts were over the CD dirt and she appears to have liked it. 

Race 9- The Edgewood Stakes


Top: 3-Granny Mc's Kitten
Also: 5-Little Journey

To my eyes, 4-Candy Kitty may be a free square here, having been 4th or better at or around this level four times, and the scratch of 10-Resistivity may help her cause.  But it has always been my nature to try to beat favorites in vertical exotics, so my top selection will be 3-Granny Mc's Kitten.  It isn't every day that you see a Ramsey horse whose father is Kitten's Joy receive a morning line of 15-1, and I highly doubt a Kentucky crowd will give us that price, but in races with a BRIS rating of 113 or 114, the range of this race, Granny has won or placed two out of three times.  I liked her even more with a pace scenario that included the 10, but she comes in second off the layoff, and I like trainer Chad Brown moving her from Keeneland's poly to Churchill's turf here.  Speaking of Brown, my second choice is also a trainee of his, the 5-Little Journey.  I have lost enough wagers excluding French turf invaders to know that any horse that has never been off the board over there is a legit contender here, not to mention the first-time lasix, the 33 percent winners for Brown with shippers to the U.S., or the fact that Lezcano is winning 38 percent of his mounts for Brown and is in the money for him 75 percent of the time as well.  Yes, she has been off, but her work tab suggests that she has been pointed this way.  Don't leave 7-Istanford, 1-MissMachiavelli, and 8-VV Goodnight out of your exotics.

Race 10-The Alysheba Stakes

Top:  7-Golden Ticket
Also:  3-My Lute, 9-Bradester

Another race where I am trying to beat what might be a potential free square in the 2-Will Take Charge.  But that is why playing the horses is so fun.  Yes, Will Take Charge has loads of back class, hasn't run under a 103 BRIS speed fig since last year's Belmont, and towers over this field in best late speed.  Still, D.Wayne Lukas is only hitting on 8 percent of his graded stake mounts and the change in jockeys, even to one as good as Gary Stevens, confuses me.  Luis Saez had guided WTC to a first or second place finish in each of the last seven starts and you know, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.  I landed on another horse making a significant class drop here, the 7-Golden Ticket.  He was last seen at Aqueduct, running fourth in the G1 Carter Handicap.  He is four-of-six winning or placing on this track, and five-of-six in the money at the distance.  With the scratch of 5-Normandy Invasion, he and the 3-My Lute are the only two horses that have run to the speed par within their last five starts.  Speaking of 3-My Lute, he is my second choice, coming in second off the layoff and poised to move forward off a rallying win in his last, a sneakily class-rich optional claiming race.  I wish he had more works, though.  I also have to mention the 9-Bradester, who enters off a couple of solid works, has hit the board in three-of-four Churchill starts, has placed or won in five-of-six at the distance, and also backed way up in his last start but now has a hidden drop in class as he returns for this one (the New Orleans Handicap had BRIS race rating of 120, where the projection here is just 117.5).  He has won against tougher fields in each of the two races prior to the New Orleans.  Don't leave 1-Moonshine Mullin out of your exotics...He too, has a hidden drop off a win in a tough optional claiming race at Oaklawn and is seven-of-nine in the money at the distance.

Race 11-The Kentucky Oaks


Top:  4-Rosalind
Also: 5-Thank You Marylou

Yes, 13-Untapable has destroyed the last two fields she faced, and yes, she won her first two starts over the Churchill track, and yes, she has wowed clockers with her works, and yes her best speed fig is seven points higher than the nearest rival.  But...I just can't in good conscience take 4/5 in a 13-horse, G1 field.  Hence, my top selection is the 4-Rosalind, who enters off her own romp of seven lengths in the Ashland, and is one of only two other horses in here that has run a triple-digit BRIS speed figure (9-Unbridled Forever).  She has a third-place finish over the strip, and has never been off the board on a fast track.  Also, note that she finished third in the Breeder's Cup Juvenile Fillies, a race where Untapable and was eased after facing a hot pace and going five-wide.  I think this race could see decent fractions, which sets up for the 4, who is tops in my Late Pace figures, and also for the 5-Thank You Mary Lou, who is second in Late Pace, and has improved position against pace in each of her four races.  Again, I would be surprised if the Ramsey-Maker connections get away with a 30-1 morning line, but I would be overjoyed if they did.  I plan to include 12-Got Lucky, 2-Ria Antonia, and 9-Unbridled Forever, and 11-My Miss Sophia in vertical exotics.

Good luck to each of you!

 

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