People have been asking me for days who my picks are for the Kentucky Oaks. It’s hard this year, because there are so many great stories behind these fillies and their connections, and for sentimental reasons alone, I would be happy if almost any of them won. That’s definitely not always the case with a race like this.
Aside from the sentimental stuff, this is a powerful and talented group of horses, and I think several of them are more than capable of capturing the lilies.
Strictly from a handicapping standpoint, I will give you my three top picks and tell you why.
1. Joyful Victory: Trainer Larry Jones has unwavering confidence in this filly, and it’s not hard to see why. She’s been training great at Churchill, with a bullet work May 1 (five furlongs in :59 1/5), and she’s dominated in her last two starts at Oaklawn Park (won by a combined 15 ¼ lengths). Seeing her on the backstretch, she looks sleek and racy, yet calm in the midst of the pandemonium around her. I could easily envision the lilies on her back.
Joyful Victory at Churchill, Reed Palmer Photography
2. Kathmanblu: First of all, her jockey, Julien Leparoux has been on fire at Churchill lately (I think he’s won three races on the card so far today alone). She may have missed in her last start, a third in the Ashland (gr. I) at Keeneland, but it’s clear that she loves the Twin Spires. The daughter of Bluegrass Cat captured the Golden Rod (gr. II) at the Louisville track last November. I’m looking for a big, come-from-behind effort from her.
3. Daisy Devine: This is my longshot pick. It was a tough choice because there are several other respectable outsiders in this field, but I feel like she’s ready to peak in this race. She was sharp in her last effort when she stalked the pace to capture the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. I), and she’s in a great striking position in post 9 for the KY Oaks. In her latest work at Churchill, she smoked three furlongs in :35 4/5 at Churchill May 2, so she clearly likes the track.
I would also like to hear your picks and why! We are four and a half hours out from the Oaks. Are you ready??