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2013 Kentucky Oaks Preview

2013OaksIt’s been a fun spring in Chicago, but it’s good to be home. Derby week has come! The Kentucky Oaks field intrigues me even more than the Derby, and with the run for the lilies just a day away let’s glance at the field:

Silsita – Pletcher’s loaded hand comes into play immediately with the first horse into the gate, and she could be the longest of his shots. A game winner of the Bourbonette, she still has the big question mark of dirt on her profile. She has plenty of breeding to handle both the surface and the distance, but will see plenty of company where she wants to be on the front end as well. Gary Stevens’ hand could be forced from the inside and unless she’s developed a new fondness for closing the trip may be a tough one.

Midnight Lucky – The rookie of the field may have more potential than most – but is she ready to fire a lifetime best? She’ll need it to beat this group but she’s certainly earned the shot with career races one and two. The gray is bred on a very similar cross to a former Baffert star named Pussycat Doll, who excelled at distances between seven and nine furlongs. While her talent should get the extra ground, having to battle early and late on the inside may take some punch out of the filly down the stretch. Her better races may come down the road but the raw ability is there.

Beholder – The champion two-year-old filly has been campaigned beautifully leading up to this race. She could be the first in a while to complete this prestigious double but she’ll have to take her act on the road for the first time. Many of these are entering this race off their lifetime best figures/races, while she has been picking up steam in her spring campaign in that department. I question many horses leaving Santa Anita for any other dirt surface for the first time; while she’s more likely to handle the change than most I’ll still be interested to see how full the tank is at the 1/8 pole.

Unlimited Budget – She’s a rarity – An expensive purchase that’s paid dividends very quickly for the Repole Stable. Any other year she’d be the star of the show from Team Pletcher but with Dreaming Of Julia drawn into the same race her sparkling record has taken a slight backseat. She’s one of the more versatile runners in the field and has already handled this distance in victorious fashion. This is no four horse race like the Demoiselle, but note that the filly she beat that day made a laughing stock of the Ashland field a month ago. While Emollient did nothing against DOJ she also got that Grade 1 Ashland win a week later…..hmmmm.

Seaneen Girl – While she returns to the site of her greatest glory thus far, the form of that race hasn’t really panned out. A few will be on the Oaks undercard, but none are joining her in the big dance. Her last outing wasn’t bad, but drawing right next to the filly that beat her and trying to make up four lengths on a pretty level playing field may not work today. The addition of Rosie doesn’t hurt but she’ll need to take another pretty substantial step forward.

Princess of Sylmar – Had her hefty win streak snapped in the Gazelle, and like the runner immediately to her inside meets the filly that showed her defeat. She’ll be able to sit just off any speed duel that should develop in here but needs to show she can swim in the deep end after rattling through the inner track meet. This one was on the fence to even go into this race, and though she’ll be the best price of her life there are more enticing longshots in this field.

Pure Fun – She’d be a joy to have in your barn wouldn’t she? Turf, dirt, poly, females, males – Name it and she tries hard every time. After getting marooned from the outside slot in the Lexington against males, she returns to her own gender. She had a pretty good string of performances prior to the Lexington and gets Lasix for the first time in start 11. She needs a jolt in the speed figure department but is not out of the question if the speed melts down. She is one of only two left in the field that owns a win over the local strip as well.

Dreaming of Julia – She’s as consistent and classy as any in this field, but how can she not regress off that monster effort? Even if she does she’s still good enough, but the money should pour into this corner. She’s never much for value on the board and if you think she’s that much the best either single her or move on to the Derby card. Other than the GP Oaks though, she’s very much in line with the rest of these. Must use but beatable.

Rose to Gold – She has pretty much one gear lately, and that’s been good enough. She faces the same problem that a lot of the speedsters in here do though, and with her drawing so wide the biggest appeal will be the price. Borel will take his share of the action (as always at CD) but may not be enough to push this filly into single digits. She’s been the best purchase in the field, costing only $1,400 at auction while earning over $700,000 in only seven starts. There are some things to like but demand value with this one.

Flashy Gray – SCRATCHED

Close Hatches – This is one of the better examples of the depth of this field. An undefeated, Juddmonte-Owned and Bill Mott-Trained filly would almost never be set at 6-1 but she simply found a deep group. The numbers improve each time and her natural early lick has come out with more ground, and she’s proven she can handle more than one track. Princess of Sylmar looked primed to pass in the Gazelle but suddenly turned into second best in the stretch, as ‘Hatches found a new gear and simply powered away. This may be another in the field, though, with her best races ahead of her.

This blog was written by Canterbury Paddock Analyst Angela Hermann. Angela Hermann serves as the Track Analyst for Hawthorne Racecourse in Cicero, Illinois and the summer of 2013 will mark her third year in a similar capacity at Canterbury Park.