Kentucky Oaks Post Position Draw and Odds Analysis

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

April 30th, 2018

Kentucky Derby week at Churchill Downs kicked off with a burst of excitement on Monday morning when post positions were drawn for Friday’s $1 million Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), the prestigious race for three-year-old fillies that is held one day before the Derby.

Fourteen horses have been entered in the nine-furlong “Run for the Lilies,” and while the small field compared to the Derby means that the post position draw isn’t quite as critical, it still holds the potential to affect the outcome of the race. Let’s take a quick look at the post positions and the morning line odds and analyze what they could mean for handicapping (and betting) the race….
PP Horse Jockey Trainer Odds
1 Sassy Sienna Gary Stevens Brad Cox 15-1
2 Coach Rocks Luis Saez Dale Romans 12-1
3 Classy Act Brian Hernandez, Jr. Bret Calhoun 15-1
4 Chocolate Martini Javier Castellano Tom Amoss 12-1
5 Wonder Gadot John Velazquez Mark Casse 20-1
6 Kelly's Humor Irad Ortiz, Jr. Brad Cox 30-1
7 Rayya Drayden Van Dyke Bob Baffert 15-1
8 Heavenhasmynikki Calvin Borel Anthony Quartarolo 30-1
9 Take Charge Paula Jose Ortiz Kiaran McLaughlin 15-1
10 Midnight Bisou Mike Smith Bill Spawr 5-2
11 My Miss Lilly Joe Bravo Mark Hennig 10-1
12 Patrona Margarita Ricardo Santana, Jr. Bret Calhoun 30-1
13 Eskimo Kisses Corey Lanerie Kenny McPeek 15-1
14 Monomoy Girl Florent Geroux Brad Cox 2-1
By far the biggest development from the draw is 2-1 morning line favorite Monomoy Girl landing the far outside post position. Although the daughter of Tapizar is very versatile in terms of running style, drawing such a wide post could force jockey Florent Geroux to get aggressive early and employ front-running tactics to help Monomoy Girl clear as many of her rivals as possible and save ground around the first turn. It’s definitely not an ideal draw, though with the majority of Monomoy Girl’s rivals to her immediate inside being late runners, it might not be as troublesome as it appears at first glance.

Still, having Monomoy Girl drawn so wide makes the 5-2 odds on Midnight Bisou rather appealing. Midnight Bisou is just as accomplished as Monomoy Girl, and while she has been a bit more workmanlike than flashy, she also hasn’t been seriously challenged this year and boasts speed figures that are pretty much on par with those earned by Monomoy’s Girl.

One of the more interesting longshots in the field might be Classy Act at 15-1. I suspect that she’ll get overlooked a bit and go off at an even higher price, but Classy Act ran well when second behind Monomoy Girl in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes (gr. II) two starts back, and last time out she set a very fast pace in the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) yet was beaten just 1 ¼ lengths while finishing fourth. Drawing post three could allow her to get out in front again and take this field a long way on the lead.

A potential underlay might be Rayya, who makes her first start for trainer . She’s 15-1 on the morning line, but I expect her to start at a shorter price since she's getting a lot of hype off her runner-up effort in the UAE Derby (UAE-II) in Dubai last time out. That was a nice run, but I think it’s important to note that Rayya was still beaten 18 ½ lengths despite an ideal trip racing along the inside on a day when the rail was the best part of the track.

Which fillies do you think were affected most by the post position draw, and which do you feel will offer the best value in the wagering?