Kentucky Oaks Day spot plays at Churchill Downs
With short-priced favorites that look dominating in some of the early stakes on Friday's Kentucky Oaks (G1) card at Churchill Downs, we'll concentrate our spot plays on the final three, including the fascinating feature of the day.
Race 9: Eight Belles S. (G2), 4:04 p.m. ET
There are lots of options to choose from in this intriguing seven-furlong dash for three-year-old fillies, but #9 Li'l Tootsie(8-1) definitely bears watching on the cut back in trip from a fifth-place effort in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2).
While obviously not at the class of Travel Column and Clairiere around two turns, an extended one-turn race like this should suit this filly, given her impressive maiden win at Fair Grounds in January over six furlongs.
The pace also figures to be plenty quick enough to set up things for a closer.
Race 10: Twin Spires Turf Sprint (G2), 4:55 p.m. ET
Another horse to watch, who could benefit from an early speed duel, is #10 Sombeyay (4-1).
He handled the cutback in distance from a mile to six furlongs just fine in the San Simeon (G3) at Santa Anita last time out. He took a brief lead from just off the pace in midstretch but was worn down by Gregorian Chant, Southern California's top turf sprinter, by only a neck.
Flavien Prat has finished first or second in his last four rides aboard the Into Mischief five-year-old, who looks dangerous if he can handle ground that might have a little give in it after some mid-week rain.
Race 11: Kentucky Oaks (G1), 5:51 p.m. ET
#6 Travel Column (3-1) has been at the head of our Oaks top 10 since her excellent win in last fall's Golden Rod (G2), when she overcame some in-race adversity, and nothing we've seen since has enticed us to change our mind.
Although she was caught napping, figuratively speaking, by Clairiere at the finish of the Rachel Alexandra (G2), she returned the favor rather impressively in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) last time.
Her tactical ability should ensure an ideal trip just off the pace, and that should allow her to get first run, ahead of Clairiere and Malathaat.
Those two should attract plenty of betting action, thus Travel Column figures to offer much more of a square price than backers received over the winter.