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Kentucky Oaks 2011: On the Record

Will Joyful Victory float home  first without Larry Jones aboard?Friday may or may not be Uncle Mo Decision Day, but regardless of what happens there (is it all a PR stunt? Who can say?), this year’s Kentucky Oaks should be a good one. If it rains, there are plenty of high Tomlinsons in the field, but only Holy Heavens has an actual win in the mud (although I don’t see her as a major factor if the track is fast).

For some reason, I have been finding this race considerably more difficult than the Kentucky Derby to handicap – partially because these fillies seem to be made of sterner stuff than many of their male counterparts, and partially because I’m finding a lot to like – I’ve changed my picks time and again this year.  I’ve tried various combinations of the strong favorites and interesting longshots, and have also entertained an all-longshot ticket, simply because each one of the longshots in question has something legitimate to recommend her.

That’s not to say I’ve tried to use all the longer shots – far from it – but those I keep dithering on (specifically, Her Smile and Daisy Devine, both name-checked again below since I couldn’t leave them out)  seem dangerous.

Without further ado, the Kentucky Oaks field, and predictions:

PP Horse Jockey Trainer ML odds
1 Joyful Victory Mike Smith Larry Jones 5-2
The Canadian-bred Larry Jones trainee looks very strong indeed here; I don’t see the rail being a huge issue for her, and she is a deserving favorite.
2 Lilacs and Lace Javier Castellano John Terranova 12-1
Upset winner of the Ashland won’t be nearly as under the radar here; very attractive pedigree: by Flower Alley, out of a Seattle Slew mare.
3 Summer Soiree Gabriel Saez Larry JonesL 5-1
Another Larry Jones trainee; she has been working well and looks to be a serious threat; she knows how to win.
4 Kathmanblu Julien Leparoux Kenny McPeek 4-1
She was third behind Lilacs and Lace last time out, but had three consecutive wins before that (including one at Churchill Downs). I like Julien Leparoux at this track, and I expect a good performance.
5 Suave Voir Faire Miguel Mena D. Michael Smithwick, Jr. 50-1
She’s been in the money behind some of the best fillies here, but seems just a notch below.
6 Zazu Joel Rosario John Sadler 4-1
Like Joyful Victory, she’s by Tapit and she’s a better filly than her record suggests – she has several near-misses. Worth keeping an eye on.
7 Her Smile Garrett Gomez Todd Pletcher 20-1
Newly owned by Bobby Flay, she may just be figuring things out at the right time – and at a price.
8 Bouquet Booth Robby Albarado John Velasquez Steve Margolis 20-1
Another Flower Alley filly, but one who has finished a little further back to some of this company.
9 Daisy Devine James Graham Andrew McKeever 20-1
Won the Fair Grounds Oaks , which seems to be the way to do well in its counterpart here; her odds seem unlikely to stay this attractive. Note: she cost $5500. Nice investment, in any instance.
10 Street Storm Shaun Bridgmohan Steve Margolis 50-1
Her morning line odds seem appropriate enough.
11 Holy Heavens Kent Desormeaux Bernard Chatters 50-1
Ditto that.
12 Plum Pretty Martin Garcia Bob Baffert 5-1
Yes, she won her last race by 25 lengths and is very attractively bred, but she didn’t face much – is she just coming into her own?
13 St. John’s River Rosie Napravnik Andrew Leggio, Jr. 30-1
Her only win came with Rosie Napravnik aboard – will her return to the saddle restore some racing luck?

Predictions: 1) Joyful Victory 2) Plum Pretty 3) Daisy Devine
Longshot win bets: Her Smile and/or Daisy Devine

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