Four plays to consider on Kentucky Oaks program

Profile Picture: James Scully

May 6th, 2016

Saturday’s 13-race program at Churchill Downs features six graded stakes, including the 142nd running of the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (G1). The first two stakes, the La Troienne (G1) and Eight Belles (G2), could be chalky with Sheer Drama and Carina Mia looming as formidable 8-5 morning line favorites, but the next four appear much more contentious.

Here are some thoughts on the sequence:

Turf Sprint (G3): Plenty of speed is signed for the 5-furlong affair and #2 Summation Time (8-1 morning line) should receive the right set-up for his closing kick. He’s been an extremely honest performer on turf, with his only bad efforts from 12 starts coming on Polytrack, and while the 5yo has raced sparingly at times, he’ll make his second start off a freshening for Christophe Clement today following a good effort in the Shakertown (G2) where he was beaten only two lengths. Five furlongs is a preferred distance, posting two wins and two seconds from five attempts, and Summation Time can be along in time with Javier Castellano.

Alysheba (G2): #7 Top Billing (10-1) established himself as a Kentucky Derby prospect at Gulfstream in 2014 but was sidelined 12 months following a third in the Fountain of Youth (G2). He didn’t come back in strong form last year, recording four unplaced efforts from five starts, but appears to have turned things around at age 5 for Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, recording a sharp allowance score over a nice field at Keeneland last time. Top Billing will appreciate the added sixteenth of a mile today as well as a preponderance of speed for his late run, with six of the 10 entrants employing front-running tactics. I like his chances from off the pace with Joe Bravo.

Edgewood (G3): Catch a Glimpse is the horse to beat off five straight wins but the classy filly was all out to hold on in the Appalachian (G3) last time at 3-5 odds and I question whether she’s in top form presently. I’ll try to beat her with #8 Outsider Art (8-1), who returned this year with a fast-closing third in the Appalachian. Conditioned by Hall of Famer Jonathan Sheppard, the filly stamped herself as a promising prospect last season, winning her first two starts before finishing third in the Jessamine (G3), and she’s eligible to move forward significantly off the tightener. And her late-running style should play well a number of front-runners entered.

Kentucky Oaks: I liked the Gazelle (G2) victory by #3 Lewis Bay (8-1), who improved her record to 2-for-2 at the 1 1/8-mile distance with a sharp 1 ½-length score, and the Bernardini filly can continue to show more versus 13 rivals in the Kentucky Oaks. She’s trained forwardly at Churchill Downs, according to reports, for Chad Brown and has never finished worse than second in five career starts. Post 3 is the perfect starting position for her stalk-and-pounce run style and Lewis Bay should be in prime spot turning for home.