2014 Kentucky Oaks Picks with Odds and Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 4/30/2014
The Kentucky Derby is obviously the race that everyone is talking about this weekend in Louisville. As has been the case with surprising frequency in recent years, though, the race with more top-end talent seems to be happening the day before. The Kentucky Oaks this year features a feared favorite and a pile of worthy contenders. If you aren't familiar with the Oaks, you can basically think about it as the Derby for fillies. It isn't a part of a filly Triple Crown like the Derby is, but it's the biggest race of the year for three-year-old fillies. In recent years both Rags To Riches and Rachel Alexandra have won the Oaks and gone on to win a Triple Crown race, so this race could be relevant for the Triple Crown trail this year. So, who will come out on top? Let's take a look at some 2014 Kentucky Oaks picks, predictions and odds for the 13-horse field:
The giant in the field
Untapable (4/5 morning line odds): This race shapes up as a bunch of Davids vs. a Goliath, and this wildly-impressive filly is the Goliath. She has raced only twice this year, but she has made the most of the outings. She absolutely destroyed the field in the Rachel Alexandra in February, winning by almost 10 lengths. She won by just short of eight lengths next time out in the Fair Ground Oaks, beating a strong field.
She hasn't always been dominant like this, though, In fact, I hold a bit of a grudge against her because I backed her in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and she struggled home eighth. Still, she has been so good this year that she is the deserving favorite.
Jockey Rosie Napravnik has won this race before and is riding well - with the exception of a lousy ride in the Derby Trial aboard Bayern last weekend that will force her to serve a three-day suspension starting after the Derby.
Untapable drew the outside post position in the 13-horse field. That is a slight concern because she likes to be in touch with the lead early on, but it's far from impossible to overcome. Her breeding isn't proven at this distance, but she has loads of quality from sire Tapit and should be adequate for this challenge.
Add it all up and you have a very deserving favorite. I would not at all be surprised if she were to win it and make it look easy. At this price, though - and she is very likely to be bet even lower by post time because of public affection for a heavy favorite - my inclination is to look to see who could beat her. I'd rather take a shot at cashing a nice price than settling for pennies from her.
The best of the rest
Fashion Plate (6/1): I am a big fan of both trainer Simon Callaghan and jockey Gary Stevens, so I should be all over this horse. I'm just not buying into her, though, In fact, I hope lots of people bet on her so the prices for the other horses are better when she fails to win.
She's the second choice because she has won her last three races and is the class of the West Coast. The problem, though, is that she has won from the front each time but has been allowed to set a fairly pedestrian pace each time. She hasn't faced much quality, so she hasn't been challenged. Against a stronger field with some horses - including Untapable - that will be looking to push the early pace, she isn't going to have such an easy trip. I'm not sure she has what it takes to adjust her approach here. I just don't think she is fast enough.
Rosalind (8/1): You don't see this very often - Rosalind's last race, the Ashland Stakes, ended up in a dead heat. No amount of review of the photo finish could pick a winner. The horse she tied with, Room Service, is not in this race.
The biggest issue with this horse is the amount of change you have to try to digest to figure out what to expect. She has never run on the same type of surface two races in a row, and she has only won on synthetics and grass. She ran with blinkers for the first time two races ago. She won without Lasix last time. It takes a giant leap of faith to believe in this horse given the uncertainty.
Sugar Shock (12/1): If I am going to look beyond the favorite then this is the horse I will likely settle on. She ran twice in the fall at Churchill but was mostly unimpressive. After a layoff and a move to Oaklawn Park, though, she looked like a much different horse - just like Untapable did after her break.
She has won four straight (though she was disqualified after one win), and she has done it both on the lead and while tracking the leaders. I am not absolutely sure she can handle the distance or the jump in class she faces, but I like what I have seen, and I think the pace scenario sets up better for her than for Fashion Plate.
One thing I am not crazy about, though, is the switch to jockey Calvin Borel. Despite his reputation on Derby weekend, he is not riding well at all right
now. Channing Hill had been aboard the horse for all of her career starts and had fared well in the saddle. I would have liked the consistency. Still,
there is enough to like here to give it a shot.
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