Oaks is here…Always a monster day for racing. Always an electric atmosphere to kick off Derby weekend at Churchill Downs. The Friday before the First Saturday in May should be an official state holiday in the Commonwealth.
I say this all the time; it’s hard to find a better spot to people watch than at a horse track. But Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby weekend is the best of the best. It’s thousands upon thousands of people – most of them belligerent – dressed in ridiculous hats, obnoxiously vibrant-colored suits/ties, or barely anything at all. The smell of stale beer and cigar smoke fills the air, and the the announcer’s voice over the loudspeaker is secondary to drunks yelling as they pass each other by. And if it rains? Forget about it. It’s like one big bowl of big mud-infused, pastel-colored, liquor-filled soup.
To summarize, it’s a place where some of the most beautiful people often experience some of their ugliest moments. If you haven’t been, put it on the bucket list. You gotta be there to see it…at least once.
Let’s take a look at the field for the 145th Running of the Longines Kentucky Oaks:
The Oaks has an approximate post time of 6:12 p.m. on Friday, and NBC Sports Network will be broadcasting live from Churchill Downs from 5-6:30 p.m. Below are my Oaks selections/analysis. Stakes picks if you keep scrolling after that.
Champagne Anyone had a great trip in her final Kentucky Oaks tune-up, a half-length victory over Dunbar Road in the Grade-2 Gulfstream Park Oaks. She seemed to improve going an additional 16th of a mile from her second to last race to that race, and I think she will continue to move forward here. Ian Wilkes is a trainer that knows Churchill Downs well, and I think he will have her ready to make a strong run at favorite Bellafina late in this race. This pick is more of me just trying to find a horse with a little more value, who I believe is capable of beating Bellafina.
Bellafina certainly has done know wrong in three starts this year – all graded stakes victories – out at Santa Anita Park. But she has made a name for herself in some short fields; she faced three opponents in her Santa Anita Oaks win and four opponents in each of her other two races this year. The last time she faced a crowd was in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies here at Churchill in November, where she got bumped at the start and had a little trouble in traffic. This race will be a test to determine if she’s ready for the prime time. In my view, she’s going to be too heavy of a favorite for me to bet her to win, although she should definitely be included in any of your Pick 4/Pick 5/Pick 6 wagers.
Out for a Spin ran an excellent race at Keeneland in the Grade-1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland last month, lighting up the tote board at odds of 52-1. She gets an upgrade with jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. in the saddle, and trainer Dallas Stewart has shown he can get his horses to run big at Churchill on Derby weekend. I’m not crazy about her post position, which is why I’m making her my third choice in the Oaks, but she’s a talented horse. If she can get out of the gate and get close to the pace early, she should have just as good a chance as any to hit the board at least.
Jeltrin is a horse that may get a bit overlooked in this one, even though she beat Champagne Anyone and Jaywalk in her last start at Gulfstream Park in the Davona Dale Stakes (G2) at odds of 51-1. She is conditioned by little-known Venezuelan trainer Alexis Delgado, who saddled his first U.S. winner less than two years ago and his first graded stakes win in the Davona Dale just a couple months ago. She seems like she has improved with added distance leading up to this point, so I think it’s possible she could handle the mile and an eighth fine and surprise people once again at a price.
And below are the rest of my stakes picks for the day. With so many races, I decided just to handicap the stakes races. You’re on your own for the rest.
RACE 5 – $250,000 EIGHT BELLES STAKES (G2), 3-year-old, fillies, going 7 furlongs on the dirt (12:35 p.m. EDT).
- 4) BREAK EVEN
- 7) LYRICAL LADY
- 3) QUEEN OF BEAS
RACE 6 – $250,000 EDGEWOOD STAKES (G3), 3-year-old, fillies, going 1 1/16 miles on the turf (1:17 p.m.).
- 1) NEWSPAPEROFRECORD (IRE)
- 2) CAMBIER PARC
- 5) CONCRETE ROSE
RACE 7 – $400,000 ALYSHEBA STAKES (G2), 4-year-olds & up, going 1 1/16 miles on the dirt (2:00 p.m.).
- 1) MCKINZIE
- 5) BOURBON RESOLUTION
- 8) SEEKING THE SOUL
RACE 8 – $500,000 LA TROIENNE STAKES (G1), 4-year-olds & up, fillies and mares, going 1 1/16 miles on the dirt (2:53 p.m.).
- 9) SECRET SPICE
- 1) SHE’S A JULIE
- 3) DIVINE MISS GREY
- 2) BLUE PRIZE (ARG)
RACE 9 – $106,000 ALLOWANCE OPTIONAL CLAIMING, 3-year-olds & up, going 7 furlongs on the dirt. Claiming price: $62,500 (3:53 p.m.).
- 5) KNIGHT’S KEY
- 7) SOLID WAGER
- 12) FUEL THE BERN
- AE 15) SOUL STREIT
RACE 10 – $250,000 TWIN SPIRES TURF SPRINT (G2), 3-year-olds & up, going 5 ½ furlongs on the turf (5:04 p.m.).
- 6) WORLD OF TROUBLE
- 8) UNDRAFTED
- 1) BOUND FOR NOWHERE
RACE 11 – $1,250,000 LONGINES KENTUCKY OAKS (G1), 3-year-old, fillies, going 1 ⅛ miles on the dirt (6:12 p.m.).
- 10) CHAMPAGNE ANYONE
- 4) BELLAFINA
- 1) OUT FOR A SPIN
- 11) JELTRIN
Want more? Fine. Some other links:
- 2019 Kentucky Oaks at a Glance (America’s Best Racing)
- Free Brisnet Past Performances for 2019 Kentucky Oaks Contenders (Courier Journal)
- Betting The 2019 Kentucky Oaks: Picks And Plays (Forbes)
CoxTalks Derby Day Stakes Selections | Churchill Downs – Saturday, May 4, 2019
RACE 6 – $500,000 HUMANA DISTAFF (G1), 4-year-olds & up, fillies & mares, going 7 furlongs on the dirt (1:13 p.m. EDT).
- 2) SPICED PERFECTION
- 7) MARLEY’S FREEDOM
- 4) TALK VEUVE TO ME
RACE 7 – $400,000 LONGINES CHURCHILL DISTAFF TURF MILE (G2), 4-year-olds & up, fillies & mares, going 1 mile on the turf (1:55 p.m.).
- 5) DADDY IS A LEGEND
- 6) PRECIEUSE (IRE)
- 8) GOT STORMY
- 9) ENVIRONS (GB)
RACE 8 – $500,000 CHURCHILL DOWNS STAKES presented by TwinSpires.com (G1) 4-year-olds & up, going 7 furlongs on the dirt (2:45 p.m.).
- 12) WHITMORE
- 7) WARRIOR’S CLUB
- 2) LIMOUSINE LIBERAL
RACE 9 – $400,000 AMERICAN TURF STAKES presented by Ram Trucks (G2), 3-year-olds, going 1 1/16 miles on the turf (3:37 p.m.).
- 2) SOCIAL PARANOIA
- 1) A THREAD OF BLUE
- 5) SEISMIC WAVE
RACE 10 – $400,000 PAT DAY MILE presented by LG&E and KU (G3), 3-year-olds, going 1 mile on the dirt. (4:28 p.m.).
- 10) INSTAGRAND
- 1) DURKIN’S CALL
- 4) MR MONEY BAGS
- 14) LAST JUDGEMENT
RACE 11 – $1,000,000 OLD FORESTER TURF CLASSIC (G1), 4-year-olds & up, going 1 ⅛ miles on the turf (5:25 p.m.).
- 5) MARKITOFF
- 12) BRICKS AND MORTAR
- 9) SYNCHRONY
- 8) BREAKING THE RULES
RACE 12 – $3,000,000 KENTUCKY DERBY presented by Woodford Reserve (G1), 3-year-olds, going 1 ¼ miles on the dirt (6:50 p.m.).
- 7) MAXIMUM SECURITY
- 17) ROADSTER
- 8) TACITUS
- 16) GAME WINNER
- 3) BY MY STANDARDS