Our Best Longshots for the 2015 Kentucky Oaks
In addition to our top selections, the team has pegged a few outsiders worth a look...
James Scully: At 15-1 on the morning line, Puca is my best longshot in the Kentucky Oaks. She’ll have to overcome the far outside post among 14 rivals, but I’m expecting further improvement in her third start this season. The Bill Mott-trained rolled to a 16-length maiden win at Belmont Park before closing last year with a troubled sixth, being beaten only three lengths in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, and she encountered more issues when opening 2015 debut in the February 21 Davona Dale, missing the break before closing past eight horses for fourth. Puca was taken out of her game early in the April 4 Gazelle, forced to chase a loose Condo Commando in the early stages, but she gamely re-rallied for second and looms a threat to put it all together here for trainer Bill Mott. The outside post isn’t a concern for me – the late runner is going to take back with Junior Alvarado – and Puca figures to offer a stout finishing kick. I’ll focus mostly underneath in vertical exotics but will include Puca in multi-race wagers.
Vance Hanson: With 30-1 chance Oceanwave as my top Kentucky Oaks selection, it’s slightly odd that I should endorse a lower-priced horse as my “Oaks longshot to watch.” Logic would dictate that if I like Oceanwave I should also find Include Betty, who just beat her in the Fantasy, worthy of much attention. However, the come-from-the-clouds type didn’t wow me with her races at Churchill last fall, and while she is certainly better now, she appears less likely to keep Oceanwave at bay this time. I’m going with another pedigree play in Forever Unbridled, whose dam, Lemons Forever, posted a huge upset in 2006 Kentucky Oaks. Lemons Forever has already produced Unbridled Forever, who ran a distant third in last year’s Oaks. Forever Unbridled was in the shadow of I’m a Chatterbox all winter at Fair Grounds, but showed enough gradual improvement to suggest she can, like her full sister, crash the lower rungs of the exotics at a decent price.
Jennifer Caldwell: Oceanwave was made 30-1 on the Kentucky Oaks morning-line, and I think the gray miss will easily outrun those odds on Friday. The Wayne Catalano pupil has yet to score a stakes win, but she’s been awfully close in her two prior tries. The sophomore miss actually began her career at Churchill Downs, coming from well back in the stretch to be third by a length on the wire while going seven furlongs. She broke her maiden one race later at Keeneland and opened 2015 with a 3 3/4-length romp at Oaklawn Park. She stayed at that Arkansas venue to test black-type rivals and on each occasion came from far back to just miss on the wire. The first time was in the Honeybee Stakes and the second in the Fantasy Stakes, both at 1 1/16 miles. The latter race saw just a neck separating her from the winner, and Oceanwave could easily use the extra distance in the nine-furlong Oaks to get by this time around. Rafael Bejarano will be aboard for the first time as Oceanwave goes for Oaks glory.
Kellie Reilly: My selection of the 30-1 Oceanwave as the best longshot isn't a product of groupthink. On the contrary, this beautifully bred daughter of Harlan's Holiday has been on my radar screen for a little while now. A fast-closing third in her debut here last September, the Wayne Catalano pupil came right back to break her maiden at Keeneland. She just edged Lassofthemohicans, who went on to place twice to Birdatthewire, including in the Forward Gal (G2). Oceanwave wintered at Oaklawn, where she crushed a second-level allowance before finishing a troubled second in both the Honeybee (G3) and Fantasy (G3). Out of a full sister to Grade 1 star Tapizar, and from the family of champion Untapable, Oceanwave is entitled to keep progressing. A clean trip could be all she needs to show what she's truly capable of, and that's up to new rider Rafael Bejarano.
Ed DeRosa: In for an ounce in for a pound when it comes to the Florida fillies, so Eskenformoney is a must use for me at 20-to-1 morning line. She’s right there with my pick to win, Birdatthewire.