2022 Kentucky Oaks Predictions and Race Analysis
Friday at a soggy Churchill Downs is the running of the 148th Longines Kentucky Oaks, the appetizer of this big horse racing weekend. Last year at the Kentucky Oaks, early favorite Malathaat won easily, overcoming a sloppy track and could have won running backwards.
Friday’s Kentucky Oaks edition features 15 entrants, and this 1 1/8 mile race is going to be very entertaining. If you didn’t notice, there are 11 horses that are 15-1 or higher, and the track is expecting rain all Friday, so maybe we could see a long shot hit the board. I believe a small handful of horses could hit the board, and, who knows, we could see some late scratches if the weather is bad like forecasted. Here are the highlights of the field and some predictions (Odds are the morning line track odds).
1. Secret Oath (6-1)
Trainer: D Wayne Lukas – Jockey: Luis Saez
The last time we saw Secret Oath on the track was at the Arkansas Derby, and she ran while going up against the boys. No way she goes off at 6-1 in my eyes, and let’s throw in that D. Wayne Lukas has won the Kentucky Oaks four times. Look for her to close well on Friday and I can see Secret Oath hitting the board.
2. Nostalgic (15-1)
Trainer: William I Mott – Jockey: Jose L Ortiz
Nostalgic has one of the best jockeys out there in Jose Ortiz, who has won this race three years ago, but Friday early evening she will need all her speed and some luck to win this race.
3. Hidden Connection (20-1)
Trainer: W Bret Calhoun – Jockey: Reylu Gutierrez
Last time we saw Hidden Connection she lost by a nose to juvenile champion Echo Zulu in the Fair Grounds Oaks. Not only will we see Echo Zulu in this race but overall better talent than what we saw in the Fair Grounds Oaks. Tougher race for Hidden Connection, and track conditions won’t help her as well.
4. Nest (5-2)
Trainer: Todd A Pletcher – Jockey: Irad Ortiz, Jr
Trainer Todd Pletcher has produced some nice winners in this race, and Nest could follow. Nest crushed it at the G1 Ashland at Keeneland in April, and she will go to the gate as the favorite. Most betting experts will pick Nest to win this race, but again track conditions and overall talent could bump her to 2nd or 3rd place.
5. Goddess of Fire (15-1)
Trainer: Todd A Pletcher – John R Velazquez
Trainer Pletcher has horses racing side-by-side, and Goddess of Fire has tasted 2nd place in three straight races. She won’t taste 2nd place in this race as I see her battling in the back.
6. Yuugiri (30-1)
Trainer: Rodolphe Brisset – Jockey: Florent Geroux
A little shocked that she opened at 30-1, because she brings tons of speed to this race. This filly has tons of talent, and I know this is a longer race for her, but again her speed could be a force, especially if the track is sloppy. She will need a perfect run. However, at 30-1, why not lay some coin on her to hit the board?
7. Echo Zulu (4-1)
Trainer: Steven M Asmussen – Jockey: Joel Rosario
I have cashed well with Echo Zulu at the Fair Grounds, but can she be fully recovered for this race? Trainer Asmussen has won the Kentucky Oaks twice. And if she runs like she did at Saratoga, she can easily hit the board or even win this race. Going to be interesting to see what the betting public does to this opening betting line.
8. Venti Valentine (20-1)
Trainer: Jorge R Abreu – Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione
This New York bred horse has guts and heart, but way too much talent in this race and I see this horse closing higher than 20-1.
9. Desert Dawn (20-1)
Trainer: Philip D’Amato – Jockey: Umberto Rispoli
Shocked that the Santa Anita Oaks winner Desert Dawn opened at 20-1, but the way California fillies have run in 2022 means I don’t see her hitting the board. Desert Dawn has just OK speed, and being stuck in the middle of the pack will hurt her.
10. Kathleen O. (7-2)
Trainer: Claude R McGaughey III – Jockey: Javier Castellano
Kathleen O dominated Gulfstream Park, and this undefeated filly will be a tough horse to catch if she grabs the lead late. Jockey Javier Castellano won the Kentucky Oaks in 2016, and I see him having a great mount. One interesting thing about Kathleen O is that this filly gets better the longer the race goes, and I can easily see her hitting the board on Friday.
11. Cocktail Moments (30-1)
Trainer: Kenneth G McPeek – Corey J Lanerie
She has a great name, and I will probably have a cocktail in my hand when the race goes off, but I don’t see her coming close to hitting the board. Cocktail Moments has speed but doesn’t have the experience against these top fillies.
12. Candy Raid (30-1)
Trainer: J Keith Desormeaux
I hate to say no chance for Candy Raid, but I will. No chance! She did win her last race as a big longshot, but again I don’t see lightning striking twice with Candy Raid.
13. Shahama (15-1)
Trainer: Todd A Pletcher – Jockey: Flavien Prat
Not one, not two, but three horses… Pletcher and Shahama will be making her first start in the states. She went undefeated in 4 starts at UAE over the winter, and her last win was at a long distance. She has a great jockey for this race in Flavien Prat. If she can get out of the gate quickly, this filly could make some bettors some top coin. Kentucky Oaks is not the best place to make your first US race, but this filly is talented.
14. Turnerloose (20-1)
Trainer: Brad H Cox – Jockey: Manuel Franco
Six weeks ago, Turnerloose was chasing Echo Zulu around all over the Fair Grounds Oaks and gassed out, and it wouldn’t shock me to see the same on Friday. If she doesn’t break well and her speed hasn’t improved, I see her in the back of the pack. Turnerloose will be a throw out horse for me, and it wouldn’t shock me to see her odds climb higher.
15. (AE) Beguine (30-1)
Trainer: Daniel C Peitz – Jockey: Ricardo Santana, Jr
Beguine is on the AE list, and even if she gets a shot (late scratch) she will be stuck breaking from the outside slot, which will give her no shot to win or even hit the board.
2022 Kentucky Oaks Free Pick
$2.00 Trifecta Box = $120
(Not in order)
(1) – Secret Oath
(4) – Nest
(7) – Echo Zulu
(10) – Kathleen O
(13) – Shahama
Raphael Esparza is one of the best handicappers in all sports. This weekend Esparza will have plays from Horse Racing, NBA Playoffs, NHL Playoffs, MLB, WNBA, Soccer, Boxing and UFC. Saturday Esparza will have a full card at Churchill Downs and Esparza will be releasing a 7-Unit Head-to-Head Kentucky Derby matchup.
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