Mucciolo analyzes Kentucky Oaks draw, finds value on morning line
by JOHN MUCCIOLO
The field of 14 is all set for the 144th $1 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs on Saturday. I will take a look at the post draw and odds for each of the fillies.
#1 SASSY SIENNA (15-1) – One of three from the barn of Brad Cox earned her top win to date in the Fantasy (G3) last out and gets a fine rail draw. She figures to be every bit of her morning-line price.
#2 COACH ROCKS (12-1) – Romans charge rolled home to bag the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) and has never been better. Filly is quite interesting at a big price from a perfect post for her late-running style.
#3 CLASSY ACT (15-1) – Big price for a horse who is improving and also looms as the pace of the race. Bret Calhoun trainee is a question mark at 1 1/8 miles, though 15-1 seems like a most generous price.
#4 CHOCOLATE MARTINI (12-1) – Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) queen has been a sensational claim for Amoss and has rewarded her backers with big payouts in two straight. Daughter of Broken Vow smoked a bullet last time and gets Castellano.
#5 WONDER GADOT (20-1) – Fantasy runner-up has won or placed in eight-of-nine while facing stakes foes in all but one of those. Casse filly has yet to take that next step, but she is consistently good and rates a chance.
#6 KELLY’S HUMOR (30-1) – Cox trainee has been a cut below many of these leading up to the Oaks and would need major improvement to win. Irad Ortiz Jr. will guide the daughter of Midnight Lute.
#7 RAYYA (15-1) – Wildcard in the field makes her U.S. debut for Baffert, exiting a second-place run in the UAE Derby (G2) against the boys. Classy sort has been first or second in every career outing and her price is very appealing. She has speed to use and draws well.
#8 HEAVENHASMYNIKKI (30-1) – Fleet chestnut has yet to be two turns and it’s hard to envision her as being more than a pace factor. Chestnut ran well to be third in the Davona Dale (G2) but would surprise.
#9 TAKE CHARGE PAULA (15-1) – Kiaran McLaughlin trainee has done little wrong to date and finished a big second in her final prep race in advance of the Oaks. Daughter of Take Charge Indy could get first run turning for home beneath Jose Ortiz.
#10 MIDNIGHT BISOU (5-2) – California starlet has been powerful in a trio of graded wins in succession and is the one to hold off in the lane. Daughter of Midnight Lute has no major flaws and will have the services of Mike Smith.
#11 MY MISS LILLY (10-1) – Gazelle (G2) victress earned a hefty 99 BRIS Speed figure in her two-turn debut. Hennig pupil has the tactical speed to avoid being left from this post slot.
#12 PATRONA MARGARITA (30-1) – Calhoun trainee was a superb Pocahontas (G2) winner at Churchill as a juvenile and could peak in her third performance of 2018. Dark bay would still need a big leap forward, though.
#13 ESKIMO KISSES (15-1) – Win contender has been second in both the Ashland (G1) and Fair Grounds Oaks, and I believe that she should be the third choice in the field. Corey Lanerie will try and bring this filly from far back.
#14 MONOMOY GIRL (2-1) – Superb daughter of Tapizar is a neck shy from being unbeaten in six starts and is in impeccable form following a romp in the Ashland. She is a deserving Kentucky Oaks favorite despite her tough post.
I would say that Midnight Bisou won the post draw….mainly because her top foe is parked widest of all. Monomoy Girl is plenty talented and versatile, so she might be able to overcome the slot. If she is indeed the best horse in the field, then drawing widest might be a blessing.
I’m not thrilled at all with Eskimo Kisses being in the 13 post. I would have preferred to have seen the McPeek trainee close to the rail to save ground.
All others in the field should be reasonably pleased with the outcome of the post draw.
The morning-line is right on in my estimation. To this point, the two favorites have separated themselves from most of their counterparts. They are deservedly the lone entrants at single-digit odds.
Eskimo Kisses and Rayya, both at 15-1, look to be of very good value. Coach Rocks, at 12-1, might get bet down some, too.
My top pick, the aptly-named My Miss Lilly, is 10-1. The improving filly earned the top BRIS Speed number last time out and will love the distance.