#8 Dreaming of Julia (KY) – Well this is it…the race all horse fans have been salivating over for weeks. While the Kentucky Derby gets all the glamour, this years version of the Oaks could feature the best class of horses. I’ve made Dreaming of Julia my top selection, mostly based off her breath-taking performance in the Gulfstream Park Oaks. The added distance should be to her liking, and if she can duplicate her last effort then it will be lights out for the rest of this bunch. Some skeptics are worried about the possibility of a bounce, and that could be a valid concern. That being said, predicting when a horse might bounce can be next to impossible so I’m not going to be overly concerned with it. Bottom line is I believe Dreaming Of Julia is the best horse, so I have to go with her.
#2 Midnight Lucky (KY) – Lightly raced and coming out of know where, can Midnight Lucky really win the Oaks in just her third lifetime start? Her workouts at Churchill have been legendary, and her races have been impressive as well. The inside draw will most likely force her hand somewhat, but she figured to be close to the lead anyway. In a field this loaded her lack of experience could prove costly, but her raw talent might be enough to carry her to the top. I rate her a notch below Dreaming of Julia, but wouldn’t be surprised if she puts in a freakish performance.
#11 Close Hatches (KY) – There is so much to like about Closed Hatches, and the outside draw could work to her favor. Many think this horse could be the pace setter, and from the 11 hole she has the option of doing just that, or sitting just off the front-runners in a perfect stalking trip. The filly is three for three and really has never had a challenge, so her past performances look very similar to Midnight Lucky. Having Joel Rosario aboard is a major plus considering how well he’s riding, and trainer Bill Mott was quoted early in the week saying that they were going to “win the Oaks” with this filly. Can major talent make up for lack of experience?
#3 Beholder (KY) – You know the race is tough when I’m putting a horse like Beholder in the “Exotic Play” category. The Two Year Old Filly Champion of the Year comes into the race off two dominating performances as well, making it even more difficult to put her in this spot. The bottom line for me is the fact that I’m not confident in her ability to get a mile and one eighth at Churchill Downs. She’ll most likely take this field as far as she can for as long as she can, but I’m not confident she can win the whole thing. Don’t expect her to give it up easy though, she’s a much use in all exotics.
#4 Unlimited Budget (FL) – Here is a horse that is four for four lifetime, with three of those wins being in graded stakes, yet you can probably have her around the 6-1 odds range on Oaks day. How can you fault anything this horse has ever done? Still, I think she might be just a tiny bit below the top few in this loaded race. However, she’s still a must use in all exotic races.
#9 Rose to Gold (KY) – This horse isn’t much to look at, but she’s all heart and could ruin your tickets if you quickly dismiss her! I’ll be the first to admit that she didn’t beat all that much in two wins at Oaklawn this year, but she did dispose of those fields very easily. She also caught a nice draw here, so much like Closed Hatches she’ll have plenty of options drawing outside most of the speed. Having Calvin Borel is another positive, and her last workout leading up to this was really strong. She has live longshot written all over her.
#1 Silsita (FL) – She ran a solid race in winning the Bourbonette at Turfway, but that race doesn’t look to be all that strong. She’s only one for three on dirt, with that win coming in a Maiden Special Weight at Calder. Looks like an easy toss to me.
#5 Seaneen Girl (KY) – You have to like that she has a win over the Churchill surface, but that was during her two-year old season and she’s had just one race since then. This horse might be one to watch next time out, but don’t think she’ll be ready to tackle this kind of field yet.
#6 Princess of Sylmar (PA) – In some years a horse like this might actually be favored, but this year she will struggle to hit the board. There is absolutely nothing wrong with her talents against most fields, but she was easily defeated by Closed Hatches last time out, and it’s hard to see her turning the tables today.
#7 Pure Fun (KY) – This one has been handled a bit strange, and she comes into this race with a serious lack of momentum. I actually think the switch back to dirt could help, but she’s probably out-classed in this one.
#10 Flashy Gray (KY) – She was once the buzz horse, but after two average 2nd place efforts around two turns she has been all but forgotten. The horse has some talent, but distance limitations have me thinking she’s a toss. Perhaps one turn races will be where she finds her best stride.