After recent upset, Elate might be worth taking in Kentucky Oaks Future Wager (KOFW)
Songbird, a stablemate of Unique Bella's in the Jerry Hollendorfer barn, was in much the same (albeit stronger) position a year ago. While she did prove to be the nation's best three-year-old filly last season, going undefeated all the way until the final yards of the Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1), keep in mind she wound up missing the Oaks due to illness.
In other words, while it might make sense to lock into a marginally higher price on Unique Bella before Oaks Day, the better play might be to take your chance on someone else in the event Unique Bella unluckily stalls out on her way to Louisville.
She's not in action in either the Rachel Alexandra (G3) at Fair Grounds or the Busher at Aqueduct on Saturday, thus ELATE (#6, 30-1) is somewhat out of sight and out of mind this weekend. That's good news for backers like myself, and I hope her final odds will be north of 15-1 by Sunday evening.
A dazzling 12 1/2-length debut winner at Aqueduct on Thanksgiving weekend, Elate disappointed in her sophomore debut two weeks ago in the $55,000 Suncoast at Tampa Bay Downs as the 3-10 favorite, finishing second to Tapa Tapa Tapa, who had gone unplaced in two prior stakes attempts and had never previously run on dirt.
While the loss doesn't look great on paper, especially after Tapa Tapa Tapa set a fairly honest pace, keep in mind the winner proved to be the lone speed and Elate simply couldn't keep up. My gut also tells me she probably wasn't fully cranked to run her very best race in the Suncoast either.
I can't help but notice the parallel between Elate and the recently departed Royal Delta, who was also trained by Bill Mott. While I wouldn't argue Elate is going to be as important as that three-time champion and future Hall of Famer, they both raced once at two, breaking their maidens in late fall by over 12 lengths, and came back to make their sophomore debuts in the Suncoast.
In the case of Royal Delta, she finished ninth of 10 in the 2011 Suncoast and wound up pointing for the Black Eyed-Susan (G2) rather than the Kentucky Oaks. On a positive note for Elate, her second-place finish at Tampa has only temporarily affected her Oaks aspirations rather than killed them. I'd give her another chance to prove her worthiness for the Oaks in an upcoming prep or two.
As you would expect from a filly from the Claiborne/Dilschneider stable, Elate is beautifully bred. By Medaglia d'Oro and out of the stakes-winning sprinter Cheery, Elate counts as her second dam Grade 2 winner Yell, who ran third in the Oaks. Her third dam was noted producer Wild Applause, and her fourth dam was Broodmare of the Year Glowing Tribute (of Sea Hero fame).
(Adam Coglianese Photography)