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Road to the Kentucky Oaks 2019

Road To Kentucky Oaks 2019

Jaywalk won for the fourth time in five starts and captured her second grade one in a strong front running victory in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs on Friday, Nov. 2.

There have been five Kentucky Oaks points races so far, and Jaywalk won the last two (Frizette, BC Juvenile Fillies). Restless Rider has a win in the Alcibiades and a 2nd in the BC Juvenile Fillies.

Serengeti Empress won the first Oaks points race (Pocahontas), but she showed distance limitations in the Breeders’ Cup. The top California hope, Bellafina, ran away and hid in the Chandelier, and she came to Kentucky with a big reputation, but she ended up a flat 4th from the outside post in the BC.

The final three 2018 points races for the Oaks are Churchill’s Golden Rod (Nov. 24), the Demoiselle at Aqueduct (Dec. 1), and the Starlet at Los Alamitos (Dec. 8).

Kentucky Oaks 2019 Points Race Recaps

Pocahontas Recap (9-15-18) - Winner: Serengeti Empress (134 Today’s Racing Digest Final Rating)

Serengeti Empress dominated this event throughout (1st by 19 lengths), but when you see such a strong effort, you would like it to include a fast final time. Her overall numbers were just okay in this spot, and they actually dipped several points (150 Final Rating Ellis Park Juvenile Aug 19 - seven furlongs). It is not a good sign that she has won three of four starts by a combined 37+ lengths without earning strong ratings. Splashy Kisses was a distant 2nd, and Lightscameraaction checked in 3rd.

Chandelier Recap (9-29-18) - Winner: Bellafina (132 Final Rating)

The 2-year-old fillies in California continue to go fast early and slow late, and they will be vulnerable to route oriented runners in the coming weeks and months. Bellafina took blinkers off and sat behind Vibrance early, but they were rolling along through fractions of 22.88 and 46.51. Bellafina took over after six furlongs and won by 6+ lengths over early runner and clear place finisher Vibrance. Brill was well clear of Der Lu in 3rd, and maiden Del Mar May was the distant trailer. They slowed down considerably and stopped the clock in 1:44.59.

Bellafina Horse Racing Handicapping Past Performances 

Alcibiades Recap (10-5-18) - Winner: Restless Rider (128 Final Rating)

This was a solid win but hardly breathtaking. Meadow Dance set a good pace, and Restless Rider was always in a good spot in 3rd. The latter made a winning move entering the stretch and won in the clear by 2-1/2 lengths. Reflect made a nice run from midpack to easily secure the place, and Meadow Dance held 3rd. Chocolate Kisses rallied from 14th to complete the superfecta, and the rest were far back.

Restless Rider Horse Racing Handicapping Past Performances 

Frizette Recap (10-6-18) - Winner: Jaywalk (138 Final Rating)

Jaywalk was strong throughout in this one turn mile at Belmont Park, and this was the fourth time in as many starts that she improved her Today’s Racing Digest numbers. She was also stretching out from five and one-half furlongs, and she showed the ability to rate and finish in a dirt sprint stakes win at Delaware Park Aug. 22. Brucia La Terra rallied from last to pick up the place, and Cassies Dreamer was an off the pace show finisher. Strong favorite Covfefe was bumped at the start, stalked wide, and came up empty in 4th.

BC Juvenile Fillies Recap (11-2-18) - Winner: Jaywalk

There seemed to be a good amount of pace on paper, but Jaywalk and jockey Joel Rosario seized control early, and she was never headed in a solid 5-1/2 length wire job victory over stalker Restless Rider. The later made a run at the early leader in the lane, but was swatted away. She held 2nd by a 1/2 length over fellow stalker Vibrance. Post time favorite Bellafina did not have a great takeoff from post 10, and she ended up stalking outside and finishing a flat 4th. Cassies Dreamer was another four lengths back in 5th, and was followed by Sippican Harbor, Serengeti Empress, Splashy Kisses, Reflect, and Baby Nina.

Jaywalk Horse Racing Handicapping Past Performances 

Kentucky Oaks Points Leaderboard (through BC Juvenile Fillies)

1.  Jaywalk - 30 points

2.  Restless Rider - 18 points

3.  Bellafina - 12 points

4.  Serengeti Empress - 10 points

5.  Vibrance - 8 points

Vibrance Horse Racing Handicapping Past Performances 

Let’s go back to the year 2000 and see if we can spot some trends.

Key Trends for Kentucky Oaks (2000-2018)

Keep a close eye on horses wintering at Fair Grounds. Since 2000, a horse with at least one 3-year-old start at that venue has won the Oaks eight times. Another positive is a race at Churchill Downs prior to the Oaks (nine winners). The Ashland at Keeneland has also been a productive final prep race (six winners). Horses making their final Oaks prep in Southern California have struck four times. Interestingly, none of the last eighteen winners had their final prep at Gulfstream Park.

Only 3 of the last 18 Oaks winners competed in the BC Juvenile Fillies, and all three hit the board in the Cup (Blind Luck, Proud Spell, Ashado).  

Jockeys: Mike Smith has won a couple of recent runnings in 2013 (Princess of Sylmar) and 2017 (Abel Tasman).

Trainers: Larry Jones is responsible for a trio of winners since 2008 (Lovely Marie, Believe You Can, Proud Spell). Todd Pletcher has saddled three Oaks winners since 2004 (Princess of Sylmar, Rags To Riches, Ashado). If you go back to 1999, Bob Baffert also has three winners (Abel Tasman, Plum Pretty, Silverbulletday). Jerry Hollendorfer has three well-space winners - Lite Light (1991), Pike Place Dancer (1996), Blind Luck (2010). Chalk up a couple of wins for Steve Asmussen since 2005 (Untapable, Summerly). Going back a bit, Wayne Lukas had four winners between 1982-1991.

Pedigree: Give bonus points to horses with Medaglia d’Oro or A. P. Indy in the bloodlines.

Kentucky Oaks winners: 2000-2018

2018 Monomoy Girl (Tapizar, Drummette, by Henry Hughes) - Trained by Brad Cox

Raced four times as a juvenile (won Rags To Riches at CD), and concluded her freshman campaign with a place finish in the G2 Golden Rod. She wintered at FG (won Rachel Alexandra Stakes), and shipped to Keeneland and won her final Oaks prep in the G1 Ashland.

Monomoy Girl Horse Racing Handicapping Past Performance 

2017 Abel Tasman (Quality Road, Vargas Girl, by Deputy Minister) - Trained by Bob Baffert

Had a 4-race juvenile campaign in Southern California, and she won her last three starts that year, including the G1 Starlet at Los Al. She finished 2nd in her first two sophomore starts at Santa Anita (Santa Ysabel, SA Oaks), and stormed from off the pace to win the Kentucky Oaks on a wet track.

Abel Tasman Horse Racing Handicapping Past Performance 

2016 Cathryn Sophia (Street Boss - Sheave, by Mineshaft) - Trained by John Servis

Bred in Maryland by Robert T. Manfuso, she won both of her 2-year-old outings, including the Gin Talking Stakes at Laurel Park. She spent the winter in Florida and won back-to-back stakes races at Gulfstream Park in 2016 (G2 Forward Gal, G2 Davona Dale). In her final Oaks prep, she finished 3rd in the G1 Ashland at Keeneland.

2015 Lovely Maria (Majesticperfection, Thundercup, by Thunder Gulch)

Her juvenile season consisted of four races (a win, a pair of place finishes, and a 4th in the Trapeze Stakes at Remington). She wintered at Fair Grounds and raced twice there (2nd in G2 Rachel Alexandra). She captured her final Oaks prep in the G1 Ashland at Keeneland.

2014 Untapable (Tapit, Fun House, by Prized) Trained by Steve Asmussen

Won her first two career starts at Churchill before shipping to Southern California and disappointing in a pair of graded stakes (3rd in G1 Hollywood Starlet). She spent the winter at Fair Grounds, and she won a pair of stakes races at that venue (G3 Rachel Alexandra, G2 FG Oaks).

2013 Princess of Sylmar (Majestic Warrior, Storm Dixie, by Catienus) - Trained by Todd Pletcher

Competed three times as a juvenile, winning her final two outings at Penn National and Aqueduct. She remained in New York for her first three starts as a sophomore, with wins in the Busanda and Busher, and a runner-up finish in the G2 Gazelle.

2012 Believe You Can (Proud Citizen, El Fasto, by El Prado) - Trained by Larry Jones

Went 3-for-5 in 2011 including a stakes score in the G3 Tempted. Spent the winter at Fair Grounds and won the Silverbulletday, ran 4th in the G3 Rachel Alexandra, and captured the G2 FG Oaks.

2011 Plum Pretty (Medaglia d’Oro, Liszy, by A. P. Indy) - Trained by Bob Baffert

Raced just once in 2010, and she won that maiden event at Hollywood Park. She started off her 3-year-old season with show finishes at Santa Anita Park in the G2 Santa Ynez and G1 Las Virgenes. In her final Oaks prep, she captured the Sunland Park Oaks in New Mexico.

2010 Blind Luck (Pollard’s Vision, Lucky One, by Best of Luck) - Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer

She raced six times as a 2-year-old with wins in the G1 Oak Leaf and G1 Hollywood Starlet, a 2nd in the G1 Debutante, and a show finish in the G1 BC Juvenile Fillies. She had a trio of 3-year-old starts prior to the Oaks, and she won two of those (G1 Las Virgenes, G2 Fantasy). She bucked a few trends. She was not afraid to travel (Florida, California, Arkansas), she raced more than many of the recent winners (Oaks was her tenth career start), and she was one of the few to compete in the BC Juvenile Fillies.

2009 Rachel Alexandra (Medaglia d’Oro, Lotta Kim, by Roar) - Trained by Hal Wiggins

She was 6th in her career debut at Churchill Downs, and that was the only time she ever finished out of the exacta. She graduated in her next start at that oval, and she followed that up with a 2nd in the G2 Debutante. She was not nearly done as a 2-year-old. She won an allowance race at Keeneland in October 2008, and returned to Churchill and was 2nd in the G3 Pocahontas and 1st in the G2 Golden Rod. She resurfaced in 2009 at Oaklawn Park, and she won the Maratha Washington Stakes. She traveled to Fair Grounds for the G2 FG Oaks (she won that), and she returned to Arkansas and polished off her rivals in the G2 Fantasy. She was similar to Blind Luck in that she was not afraid to travel and race, and her busy schedule gave her a very strong foundation. It would catch up to her as a 4-year-old, but she had an outstanding winning run from November 2008 thru September 2009.

2008 Proud Spell (Proud Citizen, Pacific Spell, by Langfuhr) - Trained by Larry Jones

Won her first three starts including the G2 Matron at Belmont Park, and she ended her freshman campaign with a 2nd in the G1 BC Juvenile Fillies. In a common theme, she wintered at Fair Grounds (2nd in G3 Silverbulletday, 1st in G2 FG Oaks), and she shipped to Keeneland and ran 3rd in the G1 Ashland.

2007 Rags To Riches (A. P. Indy, Better Than Honor, by Deputy Minister) - Trained by Todd Pletcher

Late bloomer only raced once as a juvenile, and she was 4th in that maiden affair at Churchill Downs. She rattled off three straight wins at Santa Anita to kick off her 3-year-old season (1st in G1 Las Virgenes, 1st in G1 SA Oaks). After winning the Oaks, she took down Curlin in the G1 Belmont Stakes. She finished 2nd in her final career start in the G2 Gazelle at Belmont Park. She was not around long but she sure left a lasting mark.

2006 Lemons Forever (Lemon Drop Kid, Kritikola, by Tough Critic) - Trained by Dallas Stewart

Talk about shipping, this one was all over the map early in her career. She started out finishing 9th at Churchill Downs, and ended her brief juvenile season with a maiden win at Turfway Park. She was 2nd vs. allowance company at Louisiana Downs to begin her 3-year-old campaign, and she followed that up with an allowance win at Oaklawn, and a 3rd in the G3 Bourbonette at Turfway. It was bombs away at 47-1 in the Kentucky Oaks. She never won another stakes race.

2005 Summerly (Summer Squall, Here I Go, by Mr. Prospector) - Trained by Steve Asmussen

Her three juvenile starts featured a maiden win at Keeneland and a 3rd in the G3 Golden Rod. Just like many others, she wintered at Fair Grounds (1st in G3 Silverbulletday and 1st in G2 FG Oaks), and she was 4th in the G1 Ashland prior to winning the Oaks.

2004 Ashado (Saint Ballado, Goulash, by Mari’s Book) - Trained by Todd Pletcher

Rattled off three straight wins to begin her racing career in New York including the G2 Schuylerville and G1 Spinaway at Saratoga. She wrapped up 2-year-old racing with a 3rd in the G1 Frizette, a 2nd in the G1 BC Juvenile Fillies, and a win in the G2 Demoiselle. She started 2004 with a win in the G2 FG Oaks, and her last Oaks prep was a place finish in the G1 Ashland at Keeneland.

2003 Bird Town (Cape Town, Dear Birdie, by Storm Bird) - Trained by Nick Zito

Very consistent filly finished in the top three in all four juvenile starts (graduated at Churchill Downs). Her first two starts as a 3-year-old were at Gulfstream Park (1st in Charon Stakes), and her last Oaks prep was a place finish in the G2 Beaumont at Keeneland.

2002 Farda Amiga (Broad Brush, Fly North, by Pleasant Colony) - Trained by Paulo Lobo

All five starts in Southern California prior to Oaks. She raced twice as a 2-year-old (3rd in G3 Miesque). As a sophomore, she was 7th in the Blue Norther, 1st in an allowance race at Santa Anita, and 4th in the G1 SA Oaks.

2001 Flute (Seattle Slew, Rougeur, by Blushing Groom) - Trained by Robert Frankel

Lightly raced with a Southern California campaign, she was 2nd in her lone juvenile start at Hollywood Park. She broke her maiden at Santa Anita in January 2001, and was 2nd in the G1 SA Oaks.

2000 Secret Status (A. P. Indy, Private Status, by Alydar) - Trained by Neil Howard

Failed to hit the board in her first two starts at Belmont Park, but she really picked up steam after that. She graduated at Keeneland and was 3rd in the G3 Golden Rod at Churchill in her final two starts as a 2-year-old. She opened up her 3-year-old campaign with a couple of allowance wins at Gulfstream Park, and ended up 3rd in the G3 Davona Dale at that oval. In her final Oaks prep, she won the G3 Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs.

Jarrod Horak’s Fabulous Five Kentucky Oaks 2019 Contenders (11-4-18)

#1 - JAYWALK - Two-time grade one winner continues to improve for John Servis (saddled 2016 Oaks winner Cathryn Sophia).

#2 - RESTLESS RIDER - Classy filly finished 1-2 in all five outings. She likes Churchill and is a grade one winner.  

#3 - VIBRANCE - She has long range upside. All four starts were routes, and she hit the board in both grade one tries.

#4 - OXY LADY - Improving filly owns a route pedigree (Oxbow-A. P. Indy) and looked good winning the G3 Tempted at Aqueduct Nov. 2.

#5 - ENLIVEN - Clearly second best in G3 Tempted. She is on the upswing and I really like her route breeding (Ghostzapper-Mineshaft).

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