When it comes to three-year old fillies, Oaklawn Park is second to none! Rachel Alexandra, Eight Belles, and Blind Luck are some recent names of fillies that ran at Oaklawn before going on to bigger and better things. Last year everyone had high hopes for this division as On Fire Baby, Amie’s Dini, and Now I Know where all on the grounds. Each showed signs of greatest, but injuries for On Fire Baby and Now I Know, and distance limitations for Amie’s Dini, set all of them back. This year there are more unknowns than last year, but the potential is still there for a few horses that are pointing to Oaklawn as a springboard to the Kentucky Oaks.
Pure Fun will serve as the “big horse” as the 3-year-old series begins. The Kenny McPeek trained filly is coming in off a big victory in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet Stakes where she made a stunning last to first move to win by a length. McPeek said immediately after the race that Oaklawn would most likely be the target for her so we’ll see if that holds true. If you are a handicapper that likes consistency, she might be a tough one to read. She has won 3 of 8 lifetime starts, but has been a no-show in a few races. However, it looks as though she’s figured things out as she has won two in a row. Until proven otherwise she’s the big name in the division.
Broken Spell is a filly I don’t expect to make much of an impact at Oaklawn, but she does deserve to be talked about based on her past races. If Oaklawn was a synthetic surface or had a turf course this would be one of the top 3 year olds on the grounds. She broke her maiden on the turf at Saratoga, and then finished second in two top-notch stakes races ran on both turf and synthetic. The bad news…her dirt record is not good. In five starts over dirt she’s failed to hit the board. I expect Lukas to try her on dirt once again (remember Optimizer) but I wouldn’t be backing her. Maybe keep an eye on her to pop up at Keeneland in the Spring at a big price though.
While Broken Spell and Pure Fun are two experienced horses, Baby Princess is a lightly raced horse that could make some noise. The three-year old filly owned by the Jayaraman’s has been impressive in two easy victories, but will have to step up in class from here on out. She won a maiden special weight and allowance over the synthetic track at Presque Isle, so how she’ll do over the dirt track is also in question. She’s had three really solid works since arriving to Oaklawn, and is nominated for the Dixie Belle on Saturday January 12th. She’s my early pick to win that race.
Of course with three-year olds, the unknown is sometimes greater than the known. Several of the major players in this division may just now be making their first starts so it’s kind of a guess as to who might turn in to something special. One horse I’ve taken notice of in the Oaklawn morning workouts is Sitara. Sitara is the daughter of the Grade 1 winning November Snow and is by Point Given who of course is another Grade 1 winner. She’s had several solid works and could make a splash early on in the meet. D Wayne Lukas is the trainer. Also, I must mention two horses that our very own “Oaklawn Wizard” has mentioned to keep an eye on. Hung the Moon and Medium of Exchange are two unraced fillies from the Donnie K Von Hemel barn that the “Wizard” is high on. He informed us to put them in our stable mail, so maybe you should do the same.
So it’s that time of year where everyone has a sleeper horse…you probably have some of your own as well. We may not yet who the key players will be when April rolls around, but we know that whoever exits this tracks big races will be a major player in the Kentucky Oaks picture!