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Tackling Friday’s Kentucky Oaks Pick 4

by Dustin Fabian

May 2, 2018

Pumped for Derby weekend?  I am!  Let’s build our bankroll on Friday with the Pick 4 that ends with the Kentucky Oaks.  Here’s how I’m playing it.  

Race 8 – Alysheba Stakes (Gr 2, $400,000)

The first leg of the Pick 4 is the G2 Alysheba Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile dirt race for older horses.  John Velazquez leads all jockeys with three career victories in the race, including two for trainer Todd Pletcher.  They team up this year with Always Dreaming.  

Horses I’m Using

  • #1 Good Samaritan (5/2) – He’s top choice in this race for good reason.  He’s been a very strong performer since moving from turf races to dirt races last summer and I loved his win last time out in the G2 New Orleans Handicap, where he lagged far back early unleashed a massive run to sweep past the field and win going away.  
  • #3 Always Dreaming (3/1) – Last year’s Kentucky Derby winner returns to the scene of his biggest score, but I can’t help but wonder how much of that shine he has lost.  He’s been defeated in four races since the Derby and did not perform particularly well when he finished second last month in the G2 Gulfstream Park Hardacre Mile.  This race sets up well for his pacesetting running style, which is the primary reason I’m including him.  A wet track wouldn’t hurt his chances, either.  
  • #4 Backyard Heaven (9/2) – He’s lightly raced, but he put in a massive performance in March at Aqueduct in an allowance race and seems to be brimming with talent.  With not much speed signed on, I expect that he’ll get an ideal trip by stalking just off Always Dreaming’s flank.   

Others to Consider

  • #5 Hoppertunity (3/1) – For me, the 3/1 price is just too short on him.  Sure, he won the G3 Tokyo City last out at Santa Anita, but that field was terrible.  He’s in against much better horses today and won’t get a ton of pace to run at.  You have to respect any horse Bob Baffert starts this weekend, but this horse doesn’t strike me as a likely winner.  

Race 9 – Allowance 

It’s a bit peculiar that Churchill would drop an allowance race into its Late Pick 4 sequence, but as a handicapper, you’ve always got to go with the hand you’ve been dealt.  This is a nice group of three-year-old fillies, and I recommend using a few of them.  

Horses I’m Using

  • #2 Electric Forest (3/1) – Your likeliest winner, she overcame an outside draw in a big field in her career debut at Keeneland last month and goes out for trainer Chad Brown, who has won with 32% of his starters this year.  
  • #3 C P Quality (10/1) – This horse ran a strong race in her debut last month at Oaklawn.  Most times, horses breaking from the rail in their first start aren’t professional enough to drop back and overcome adversity, but she did just that.  Hall of Fame jockey, Gary Stevens, picks up the mount and the price is just too good to pass up.  
  • #5 Maho Bay (10/1) – Important note here.  Both #5 Maho Bay and #6 Devine Mischief go out for trainer Joe Sharp and jockey Adam Beschizza rode both in their most recent start.  In all likelihood, Beschizza had the choice between the two and he landed on this one – the longer shot of the two.  
  • #6 Devine Mischief (7/2) – Even though the jockey seems to prefer her stablemate, I think Devine Mischief got a great draw and is too good to ignore.  She almost won a similar race at Keeneland last month, where she was beaten less than a length.

Others to Consider

  • #4 Upset Brewing (9/2) – She’s just 1-for-10 in her career, but she’s a deep closer in a field that is loaded with speed, which could be to her benefit.  She’s run against stakes fillies six times and has run at Churchill three times, with two second place finishes.  Ultimately, she’s off my ticket because she doesn’t win enough.  
  • #8 She’s the Berries (12/1) – Horses who race primarily at Woodbine often get a bad rap because of Woodbine’s quirky synthetic surface (instead of conventional dirt), but this filly debuted at Belmont last June and was beaten just a head on the dirt, so this track won’t be too problematic.  She’s a closer and will need some pace to run at, but she should put in a decent effort at a big price.

Race 10 – Edgewood Stakes (Gr 3, $200,000)

The Edgewood is a 1 1/16-mile turf race for three-year-old fillies.  Trainer, Mark Casse, and jockey, Florent Geroux, teamed to win the last two editions of this race, but they are represented by different horses Friday.  Geroux will ride longshot Beyond Blame for Brad Cox, while Casse sends out another longshot, Heavenly Love, who is ridden by Julien Leparoux.  

Horses I’m Using

  • #11 Rushing Fall (4/5) – In bets like this, finding one or two ‘key’ horses and banking on them to win is almost essential.  Rushing Fall has never been beaten in four career starts and won the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Del Mar last November.  Her outside post is a slight worry, but she won from the 11-post that day. She showed no signs of rust in winning the G2 Appalachian Stakes at Keeneland last month on a wet turf course.

Others to Consider

  • #3 Altea (6/1) – She finished a decent third in the G3 Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs in March and trainer, Chad Brown, and jockey, Jose Ortiz, are as good as it gets in this game.  It’s a tall order to upset Rushing Fall, but she has some favorable credentials.  
  • #4 Figarella’s Queen (12/1) – She gets a key trainer change to a very successful stable and should be the controlling speed in this race.  If she’s left alone on the front end, she won’t be easy to reel in late. 
  • #6 Daddy Is a Legend (9/2) – Rushing Fall handled her pretty easily in the G2 Appalachian, but that was Daddy Is a Legend’s first race since November.  She should be sharper this time around.
  • #7 Toinette (12/1) – She overcame a cross-country ship to win a solid allowance race at Keeneland on April 11 and has been training in Kentucky since.  Flavien Prat is a great turf rider and she’s unbeaten (2-for-2) on the turf.

Race 11 – Kentucky Oaks (Gr 1, $1,000,000) 

The female counterpart to the Kentucky Derby, the world’s best three-year-old fillies line up Friday for the Kentucky Oaks.  Last year, Bob Baffert won the Oaks for the third time with Abel Tasman.  Other recent winners include Rachel Alexandra, Untapable, Blind Luck and Rags to Riches.  

Horses I’m Using

  • #2 Coach Rocks (12/1) – She needed seven tries to win her first race, and that usually isn’t a good sign.  But hey, she’s won two straight races and I loved the professionalism she showed in winning the G2 Gulfstream Park Oaks from far back.  She’s a perfect 2-for-2 with Luis Saez in the saddle and I think she’s talented enough to run a big race.
  • #7 Rayya (12/1) – Formerly based in Dubai, she won the G3 UAE Oaks on March 1 before finishing a very distant second behind Mendelssohn in the G2 UAE Derby.  She moves to Bob Baffert’s barn and while she’s a complete wildcard (having not raced against any US fillies this year), she’s good value at 12/1 on the morning line.
  • #10 Midnight Bisou (5/2) – My top pick and deservedly so.  She has won three straight races – all graded stakes events - including the G1 Santa Anita Oaks last time out.  She has thrived in longer races and she just seems to stand out in this field.  The quicker they go early, the more it sets up for her big closing kick.
  • #14 Monomoy Girl (2/1) – I’ve loved this filly all year for this race, but the 14 post position is enough reason for me to look elsewhere.  It’s not impossible to imagine a filly winning the race from this far out, but it definitely makes it more difficult.  Florent Geroux, who rides Monomoy Girl, has his work cut out for him.

Others to Consider

  • #4 Chocolate Martini (12/1) – She ran better than I expected her to in the G2 Fair Grounds Oaks on March 24, her second consecutive win since being claimed by Tom Amoss in February for $25,000.  Turns out that was a pretty shrewd buy.  Note the key jockey upgrade to Javier Castellano.
  • #11 My Miss Lilly (10/1) – She won the G2 Gazelle last time out at Aqueduct and the major question is just how good was that race.  The speed figures came back solid, but anytime three relatively unheralded fillies are separated by less than a length at the wire, you have to wonder about the quality of the race.  She won her only wet dirt race, though.
  • #13 Eskimo Kisses (15/1) – I’m only using this filly in the event of rain, as she was simply incredible in her only previous wet track race.  She was beaten by Chocolate Martini in the G2 Fair Grounds Oaks and by Monomoy Girl in the G1 Ashland…both on fast, dry tracks.  

My Bet

Race 8: 1, 3, 4 

Race 9: 2, 3, 5, 6

Race 10: 11

Race 11: 2, 7, 10, 14

Ticket Cost: $48 for $1