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Kentucky Oaks Preview

5/6/11

Most people don't know that the day before the Kentucky Derby showcases the best girls in the Kentucky Oaks. This year the field for that race is almost as exciting as the Run for the Roses. There are 4-5 fillies with a realistic shot of winning. Let's look at their strengths and weaknesses while also considering the Kentucky Oaks/Kentucky Derby Daily Double wager.

R Heat Lightning (Trippi x Yellow Heat by Gold Fever)
- She was good at two with a win in the Spinaway and runner up efforts in the Frizette and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. After a bad run in the Forward Gal to start 2011 she looked cooked, but that couldn't have been any more wrong. After that loss she dominated the field in the Davona Dale, beating Pocahontas Stakes winner Dancinginherdreams. She won as far as you can throw a rock and was never asked by jockey John Velazquez. After that she won in another laugher over Island School in the Gulfstream Oaks. She has been scary good in her last two starts and there is no telling where her ceiling is. R Heat Lightning is the one to beat in the 2011 Kentucky Oaks.

Joyous Victory (Tapit x Wild Lucy Black by Wild Again) - This lass was third behind R Heat Lightning in the Frizette Stakes last year. She has been a new animal in 2011 with big time romps in the Honeybee Stakes and Fantasy Stakes. In the latter she beat an up and coming filly named Arienza, daughter of former Horse of the Year, Azeri. Pedigree is very strong in this one. Her sire has produced Breeders Cup winners Stardom Bound and Tapits Fly. Broodmare sire Wild Again has been a strong route influence and counts the Breeders Cup Classic as his marquee win. The gray filly is just like R Heat Lightning in that we haven't seen her reach to the bottom of the well this year. What will happen when someone draws alongside and she has to work for it? I'm willing to bet she digs deep and keep going.

Plum Pretty (Medaglia d'Oro x Liszy by AP Indy) - She was flying under the radar behind Zazu and Turbulent Descent in California before shipping to Sunland Park to try two turns in the Sunland Oaks. She blew the field off the track with an emphatic 25 length win. Granted her competition wasn't much, but she finished a rock solid time of 1:43.18 for the 8.5 furlongs distance and won about as easy an any horse could ever win. Her sire produced legendary 2009 Horse of the Year, Rachel Alexandra and broodmare sire AP Indy has been one of the top 4 or 5 sires for the last 20 years. Trainer Bob Baffert is perhaps the best at what he does and will have this filly ready to run her best race. She should certainly provide strong value behind the top 2 or 3 choices in the race. Plum pretty is a dark horse contender.

Zazu (Tapit x Rhumb Line by Mr. Greeley)  - Finally got the best of Turbulent Descent in the Las Virgenes Stakes after losing to her in their two previous meeting. After that Turbulent Descent beat her again in the Santa Anita Oaks. It is lucky for all of these fillies that one isn't going here, but will target one turn miles instead. Zazu will come flying from the clouds and if the fractions get a too hot she make the pace setters pay for it.

When playing the Kentucky Oaks/Kentucky Derby Daily Double we should consider value. Which one of these fillies is going to be over bet? That is mostly likely R Heat Lightning. If you think one of these girls can beat her you should hook them with your Kentucky Derby pick. Conversely, if you think R Heat Lightning will dominate you might single her and use a couple of horses in the Kentucky Derby. We will call the upset for Plum Pretty, but certainly wouldn't be shocked to see Joyful Victory or Zazu do it.
 

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