Top Ten Kentucky Oaks 2015 Contenders; Casey’s Picks
Top Ten Kentucky Oaks 2015 Contenders; Casey’s Picks: The Kentucky Oaks is the spring goal for all three-year-old fillies. The race is run every year on the first Friday in May, initiating a two-day event that concludes with the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. The Oaks utilizes a points system similar to the Kentucky Derby’s where fillies must earn their ways into the 14-horse field. Every year, fillies emerge from winter training and try to prove their racing abilities on the track. Here is my list of the top ten fillies headed to Louisville and my thoughts on each of their chances.
1 Birdatthewire (Summer Bird – My Limit, by Wagon Limit) – Despite finishing a neck behind Ekati’s Phaeton in the Davona Dale Stakes (G2), I see this filly progressing very well as the distances lengthen. Her most recent defeat showed that the filly who won was barely able to hold on for the mile asked of her, whereas Birdatthewire continued to surge. This filly is bred to run all day, and I see her being able to close against adversity (i.e., a bias track or moderate fractions). I can’t get over this filly!
2 Take Charge Brandi (Giant’s Causeway – Charming, by Seeking the Gold) – This filly has done nothing wrong since her Breeders’ Cup win as a two-year-old, beating multiple fillies on this very list in the process. Last time out, she was narrowly the best as Jon Court hand-rode the filly after Espinoza noted that she does not like the whip. Pointing for the March 7 Honeybee, Lukas simply has to keep this filly at her current level to be handed the Oaks win.
3 Condo Commando (Tiz Wonderful – Yearling Report, by General Meeting) – After an easy win in the snow at Aqueduct, this filly proved that she has made a successful transition from two to three while cementing her presence on the Kentucky Oaks trail. Bred to be both fast and able to carry her speed, this filly is out of a multiple graded stakes winner and by a multiple graded stakes winner. She runs easily and doesn’t seem to mind anything around her.
4 I’m a Chatterbox (Munnings – Chit Chatter, by Lost Soldier) – While this filly is by a pure sprinter, she has proven that she can both lead gate-to-wire and come from off the pace, claiming the Rachel Alexandra in the latter form while winning easily over a few fillies on this list (Angela Renee, Forever Unbridled, and West Coast Belle). If she can continually improve and stay in her current form, she is a live horse in the Kentucky Oaks field!
5 Angela Renee (Bernardini – Pilfer, by Deputy Minister) – Coming in off a layoff, this full sister to To Honor and Serve finished well enough in the Rachel Alexandra to just miss third to Forever Unbridled. I like her come-from-behind running style, and such a habit could favor her if the Oaks comes up with a lot of speed. I like her pedigree because it indicates that she should mature throughout her career and come into her own as she ages.
6 Eskenformoney (Eskendereya – But For Money, by Not for Love) – Going into the Davona Dale on a two-race win streak, this filly had to step up against some very nice fillies and did not disappoint. She finished a neck back in third behind Birdatthewire and winner Ekati’s Phaeton. Her pedigree is strong in stamina, and she should continue to improve as she ages. I like her style of stalking, but down the road, I would be enthralled to see this filly try her hooves on the turf.
7 Top Decile (Congrats – Sequoia Queen, by Forestry) – Top Decile is by a son of A.P. Indy who was a consistent distance runner and out of a mare by Grade 1 winning sprinter Forestry. With this blend of speed and stamina, this filly seems to be bred perfectly to get the 1-1/8 miles of the Oaks. After a poorly run sixth-place finish in the Silverbulletday, I had to drop her down my list a bit, but she is working very well at the Fair Grounds for trainer Al Stall Jr.
8 Feathered (Indian Charlie – Receipt, by Dynaformer) – Working lights out with trainer Todd Pletcher at Palm Beach in Florida, this filly has been running against the best of the best with her last two starts coming against Take Charge Brandi. Feathered looked a bit tired in the Breeders’ Cup after being one of the betting favorites, but she came back to finish a close second in the Grade 1 Starlet. Hopefully this filly can get back to the races soon and make the Oaks field.
9 Forever Unbridled (Unbridled’s Song – Lemons Forever, by Lemon Drop Kid) – A full sister to consistent stakes runner Unbridled Forever, this filly finished third in the Rachel Alexandra behind I’m a Chatterbox. She did defeat Angela Renee but is ranked lower because Angela Renee is a graded stakes winner compared to Forever Unbridled only having a maiden score to her credit. However, she also finished a distant second in the Silverbulletday.
10 West Coast Belle (Tapit – Splendid Solution, by Unbridled’s Song) – I have had to drop her significantly after two straight off-the-board finishes in the Silverbulletday and the Rachel Alexandra. Her pedigree suggests she should be running all of these fillies of their feet, but she has failed now in two starts at age three. Undefeated at age two, could she be one who did not make the transition between two and three?
Just for Luck….
Maybellene (Lookin at Lucky – Greathearted, by Giant’s Causeway) – Initially, this Baffert filly had been on my watch list as a top dirt filly as a two-year-old after finishing well in a listed stakes and then a close third in the Starlet to Take Charge Brandi and Feathered. However, after an uncharacteristic eleventh-place finish in the Las Virgenes, Baffert recently worked this filly on the Santa Anita turf where she went four furlongs in :48.60, the fastest of four recorded works. I still like her on the dirt, but I can definitely see this one excelling on the turf.