My Kentucky Oaks Top 3

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D.S. Williamson

March 6th, 2017

So far, Unique Bella has been awe-inspiring. Already the Jerry Hollendorfer trained, Mike Smith ridden, daughter of Tapit is garnering the same press that Songbird garnered as a three-year-old last season. I'm not sold on Unique Bella being as fantastic of a racehorse as Songbird. I do believe that it's going to be more difficult for Unique Bella to improve, which she must do to win the Kentucky Oaks, then it was for Songbird to improve.

So, although Unique Bella is at the top of my list (like everyone else...it's not even close!), I do feel that others on my list should be taken seriously. I don't believe that having only Unique Bella as the stand alone winner of the Kentucky Oaks Futures, which is what happened a couple of weeks ago, is wise. This is horse racing. No horse is unbeatable.

In addition to Unique Bella, there are two three-year-old fillies that I think can take down Bella. Check out My Kentucky Oaks Top 3!



Unique Bella

Hollendorfer has another three-year-old filly monster on his hands. Make no mistake, the way that she responded to Mike Smith's urging is as professional as it gets. But, the fact that he had to urge her means that not only was Abel Tasman gaining, but that Unique Bella was also slowing. After running a half in 46.1, she should have slowed. I question her ceiling. Has she reached it already?




It's impossible for me to get past the connections of Lockdown. Lockdown is a full sister to Close Hatches. Owned by Juddmonte Farms and trained by Bill Mott, Lockdown won the Busanda Stakes in her third lifetime race. Mott is notorious for taking time with his horses. I hope he takes time with Lockdown, but I also hope she's ready for the Kentucky Oaks. She has unlimited upside. Does she have time to march to Unique Bella's level by the Kentucky Oaks? I don't know. But, I do know that the full sister to Close Hatches should improve big league.


Abel Tasman

There are a couple of things to notice about Abel Tasman's Starlet win at Los Alamitos. The first thing to notice is that jockey Joe Talamo has no trouble getting her to settle inside, taking her off the rail, and then taking her wide around the crazy Los Alamitos turn. The second thing to notice is that she runs up to the leaders before slightly settling again, and then running past American Gal to the wire. It took Talamo a bit of time to get Abel Tasman moving again in the Starlet.

Talamo tried the same move with Abel Tasman against Unique Bella in the Santa Ysabel. He ran out of real estate, I think. If he had tried the first move earlier in the race, forcing Unique Bella to accelerate quicker in the race, could he have gotten past Hollendorfer's monster? I think so.