How to Bet the 2017 American Oaks
by SCOTT SHAPIRO
As is the case in most of the Grade 1 two-turn turf events for fillies and mares in the States, trainer Chad Brown looks to hold a strong hand in the 16th running of the $300,000 American Oaks. The main event on the first Saturday of the Santa Anita winter meeting headlines a solid nine-race card that gets rolling at 12:30 local time.
The Grade 1 race for three-year-old fillies was cut back to a mile and an eighth last year to avoid horses from having to race down the hillside course due to a rainy day in Southern California, but returns to its traditional mile and a quarter distance and features three shippers as the top choices on odds maker Jon White’s morning line.
#8 Rymska comes into her first Grade 1 try since the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf last year on a three-race win streak and is the deserving 5-2-morning line favorite for the aforementioned Chad Brown. The French bred filly was extremely impressive last time out in the $150,000 Winter Memories when she came from last to run down a field of 9 at odds of 5-2.
The daughter of Le Havre was able to get the best of that non-graded stakes field last time without a hot pace to run into and she will most likely need to do so once again on Saturday afternoon since there is very little early zip signed on for the 10-furlong event. I love her talent and think she is the best filly in the field on an equal playing field, but I am not sure I can get too excited about her at a likely short price given the probable race shape.
On the other hand, #9 New Money Honey should benefit from the lack of speed in the American Oaks. The 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner over this course is one of just two gals that possesses any sort of early lick. The E Five Racing Thoroughbreds runner put in a “clunker” when last seen in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Keeneland in October, but if she can rebound from that poor sixth-place effort she appears in a great spot to notch her third win of 2017.
#4 Daddys Lil Darling is listed at 3-1 on the line for trainer Kenny McPeek off of three consecutive in the money finishes dating back to her win in the $200,000 Dueling Grounds Oaks at Kentucky Downs in mid-September. Her consistency, ability to get the distance and $958K in earnings must be respected, but I prefer the chances of the two Brown fillies.
Outside of the top three choices it is hard to make a strong case for anyone pulling off the upset.
#1 Madam Dancealot ran against the flow in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup in October and gets the services of one of the best to ever ride this turf course in Corey Nakatani, but will not get a hot pace to run into. I will include her underneath in the exotics, but it is hard for me to envision her outkicking Rymska in the lane.
#6 Beau Recall has a win and three runner-up finishes over this turf course, but may have done her best running earlier this year. Finishing third or fourth though is not out of the question.
#7 Desert Duchess should be able to beat New Money Honey to the lead making her dangerous if they crawl early, but a mile and a quarter is probably a bit further than the daughter of Hard Spun wants to travel.
The others appear overmatched.
Here is how I will wager on the Grade 1 American Oaks:
$25 Win 9 (If 7-2 or higher) = $25
$1 Superfecta Wheel
8+9 with 8+9 with 1+4+6+7 with 1+2+4+6+7+10 = $40
Total Budget = $65
Good luck and let’s get the holiday weekend started right!
You can find my full card Daily Selections each and every day for the Southern California circuit here:
New Money Honey photo courtesy NYRA/Coglianese Photography