2020 Kentucky Oaks Predictions and Race Analysis
We are just two days away from the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby. And while Tiz the Law is garnering all the media attention in the lead-up, there is a filly by the name of Gamine who should be sharing the spotlight as she prepares to run in the 146th edition of the Kentucky Oaks. To be completely honest with you, The Oaks is not nearly as high-profile as the Kentucky Derby, but it is still a very significant event. It is the headline event of the Friday of Derby weekend and the most important race for three-year-old fillies outside of the Breeders' Cup. Great horses win this race, including Rags to Riches and Rachel Alexandra, who went on to win the Belmont and Preakness, respectively. This year’s Oaks will feature just nine horses each with a chance at winning and streamlining their career in a big way. Because of the COVID pandemic, this race has shaped up differently because it’s being run on the first Friday in September. Horses who may not have been included had this race been run in May are now among the morning line favorites as we approach race day in September.
Without further ado, here's a look at a few of the contenders for Friday's big event, with the track morning line odds.
Gamine (M/L Odds 1-1)
If you’re looking for the odds-on favorite to win this race, you must look no further than Gamine. The daughter of Into Mischief and Peggy Jane is trained by Bob Baffert for owner Michael Lund Petersen and will have John Velazquez aboard for the trip. This bay filly has started four times in her short career and has crossed the finish line in first place in each of those starts. However, in one of her races, she was disqualified after the race and placed last for a medication violation in an allowance/optional claiming race on May 2 at Oaklawn Park. Nonetheless, this filly is the real deal. She won the Grade 1 Acorn Stake by a staggering 18 ¾ lengths and the Grade 1 Longines Test Stakes by seven lengths. Those two wins propelled Gamine to monster speed figures across the Beyer and BrisNet tracking system and rightfully so the morning-line favorite.
If there is one thing that will hold Gamine out of the winner’s circle on Friday, it will be the distance. In that aforementioned Oaklawn Race, Gamine went around two turns for the first time in her career and fought tooth and nail to hold off an oncoming Speech for second place. The 1 1/8 mile might be a tad too far for her given the fact that she’s stretching out from a seven-furlong sprint to over a mile against her toughest competition to date.
The connections of Baffert and Velazquez offer up a little more confidence as the jockey has taken the Oaks once in 2004 aboard Ashado while Baffert has captured three Oaks’ with the latest coming in 2017 (Abel Tasman).
Swiss Skydiver (M/L Odds 8-5)
If there is a horse in this field that could pip Gamine to favoritism on the tote board, it’s Swiss Skydiver. This chestnut filly has been a winning machine for owner Peter Callahan, having won four graded stakes races over her last five starts. Swiss Skydiver is trained by Ken McPeek, who has finished second in the Oaks on two separate occasions (2002 and 2017) and will be ridden by Tyler Gaffalione.
Swiss Skydiver is one of the horses that have benefitted from this race being pushed from early May to early September. Had this race been run on its original date, she would have been upwards of 20/1 on the morning line. Instead, four stakes wins later, she’s proven her abilities and is being talked about as a potential Oaks winner. Swiss Skydiver likes to be up near the pace and set it or pressure those in front of her. In the Grade 2 Santa Anita Oaks on July 6, she led wire-to-wire and took care of fellow Oaks runner Speech. She’s yet to hit the speed rating that Gamine has hit, but her stamina and the fact that she’s already won on the main track at Churchill Downs all bode well for her to do well in this race.
Donna Veloce (M/L Odds 15-1)
If you’re looking for a filly who can upset the balance of the race and light up the tote board, it’s got to be Donna Veloce. This bay filly is trained by Simon Callaghan and will be ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr. by way of Uncle Mo and Coin Broker. She has the resume needed to be considered to win one of the marquee filly races of the season considering she dazzled in her career debut last September and then had a great second-place showing (neck) in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Fillies. She closed her juvenile season with another second in the Grade 1 Starlet Stakes and then returned three months later with a 4 ¼ length victory as a heavy favorite in the Santa Ysabel Stakes. In this field with several standouts, it’ll be easy to overlook Donna Veloce but she’s freshened well after a layoff and her connections have had success in the Oaks, winning in 2007 with Rags to Riches.
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