2019 Kentucky Oaks preps selections for April 6

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

April 5th, 2019

A huge day of racing for three-year-olds will take place on Saturday. A trio of vital Road to the Kentucky Derby points’ races will be contested with the Santa Anita Derby (G1), Wood Memorial Stakes (G2) and Blue Grass Stakes (G2) leading the way. While much of the focus will be on the boys, a trio of races on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks will be held, as well. I will take a look at each of the affairs for the ladies. SANTA ANITA OAKS (G1) Two-time Grade 1 queen Bellafina (#5) (2-5) is the clear one to beat in the five-horse field. The Simon Callaghan charge is five-for-seven lifetime with five graded victories, including a game tally in the Las Virgenes Stakes (G2) in her latest assignment. The daughter of Quality Road gets a dream post outside of her four foes to give regular rider Flavien Prat options from the opening bell. She will be formidable with something close to her best performance. Trainer Bob Baffert has a pair of fillies in the field, and I think his lightly raced Flor de La Mar (#1) (5-1) is intriguing. The $500,000 daughter of Tiznow was a stylish winner on debut prior to an unplaced allowance run over a sloppy surface against allowance foes. The Godolphin colorbearer is training in sharp fashion in advance of the Oaks. Also, the move to two turns is more than likely going to move the sophomore forward. GAZELLE STAKES (G2) Six fillies will travel 1 1/8 miles on the Aqueduct main surface in this Kentucky Oaks (G1) prep. Positive Spirit (#4) (5-2) has a lot going for her in this spot and she will be tough to upend with her best showing. The Rodolphe Brisset trainee didn’t fire a lick when beaten 25 lengths in her seasonal debut in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds. However, the bay daughter of Pioneerof the Nile was a 10-length heroine of the Demoiselle Stakes (G2) on this surface in her 2018 finale. In addition, the Kentucky-bred looks like controlling speed in a field with no early pace. ASHLAND STAKES (G1) The 1 1/16-mile affair is easily the deepest of the trio of Oaks preps. Eight will go postward in a highly competitive race. I have a lot of respect for champion Jaywalk (#4) (8-5) and Grade 1 queen Restless Rider (#6) (5-2), who finished one-two in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). However, I view the Chad Brown-trained Feedback (#5) (3-1) as the “now” horse. Feedback is unbeaten from two lifetime races, including a solid tally in the Forward Gal Stakes (G3) in her seasonal debut. According to her trainer, the filly was not fully fit for the race. “I'm happy and relieved,” Brown said, “because this horse I really didn't have quite enough works into her where I really wanted to run her quite yet.” The Forward Gal has come back strong, with third-place finisher Champagne Anyone since winning the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) and fourth-placer Jeltrin upsetting the Davona Dale Stakes (G2). PHOTO: Bellafina and jockey Flavien Prat win the Las Virgenes Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park on February 9, 2019 (c) Benoit Photo