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The Kentucky Oaks wasn’t going to get much attention from me originally. The field features two horses, Monomoy Girl and Midnight Bisou, that seem to be the class of the group.
Then the post position draw happened.
Monomoy Girl is going to have to use quite a bit of horse to get to the lead from the far outside post, which should make her vulnerable. Midnight Bisou’s post isn’t the best, either, so let’s find some value in the rest of the field!
Kidding! I will NOT put Rayya in this category like everyone else. She was 18 lengths behind Mendelssohn in the Group 2 UAE Derby while running a 78 Beyer. She’ll have to improve big-time in order to stay with this group. I know that she’s a first-time runner from trainer Bob Baffert, and I know that the price is juicy, but I would be shocked if she isn’t bet down to 5-1. She’s just not for me.
Okay, now that THAT is out of the way….
When handicapping, I often look for vast improvement when there’s a logical reason. It’s often easy to see the reason, like a horse going from turf to dirt or adding blinkers. In Coach Rocks’ case, the change is not as obvious – it’s two turns on the dirt. She stretched out her legs in her last two efforts and showed that she was able to win on the lead and from off the pace. She gets to go around two turns again on Friday and should take another step forward. Additionally, the extra distance should help out, and with the speed in this race, she should be sitting the perfect stalking trip.
Like Coach Rocks, two turns seems to suit My Miss Lilly just fine. She’s the only horse in the field to have covered 1 1/8 miles this year and won last time out at the distance. This daughter of Tapit is also the most expensive buy filly in the field, selling for $670,000 during Keeneland’s 2016 September sale. While sale price isn’t everything in racing, when a horse sells for that kind of coin, is by Tapit, and puts everything together when stretching out, then you know that there’s a lot of talent that might not be fully tapped just yet. She also broke her maiden in the slop, so if it rains, it won’t hurt her chances.
She was beaten 5 lengths in the Grade 1 Central Bank Ashland last time out, but that was a smaller field with no pace pressure on a speed-favoring track. In the Kentucky Oaks, there should be a contested pace up front that will play right into Eskimo Kisses’ hands. This Gainsway homebred is re-adding Lasix, which indicates that she had an issue during the Ashland. Three back over the Oaklawn Park slop was monstrous so if it does rain, she is another one to keep an eye on.
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