Our best longshots for the 2016 Kentucky Oaks
Looking for a bigger price than you’ll find among the top selections? The team identifies live longshots to consider in your wagering strategy.
James Scully: A smart debut maiden winner at Churchill Downs in late November, Royal Obsession opened 2016 with a nice allowance tally at Fair Grounds before traveling extremely wide trip over an inside-favoring track in the Rachel Alexandra (G2), finishing less than two lengths back in fourth. The gray Tapit filly experienced a rough start in the Gazelle last out, getting knocked off stride by a wayward rival, and left herself plenty to do from off the pace before rallying well for second. Royal Obsession appears to be rounding into top form for Steve Asmussen and is listed at an enticing 20-1 with new jockey Florent Geroux. The stalker figures to receive a good trip behind a solid pace and I expect her to finish up strongly.
Jennifer Caldwell: With Songbird forced to bypass the Kentucky Oaks, Go Maggie Go (#4, 12-1) is the only undefeated runner in the field. However, she’s undefeated in just two starts, which could be the reason she’s 12-1 on the morning-line. The bay filly broke her maiden by four lengths on March 13 at Gulfstream Park and then showed up three weeks later to take the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) in her first try against winners. The Ghostzapper daughter captured that contest over a sloppy track, which could come in handy. She faces a stern test on Friday, but Go Maggie Go has the talent under jockey Luis Saez to prevail.
Vance Hanson: In addition to the favorite Rachel's Valentina, Stonestreet Stables has another Oaks entry in Royal Obsession. A $1.15 million juvenile by Tapit, she won at first asking over the Churchill strip last November, captured her allowance debut at Fair Grounds, and then ran fourth in a slow renewal of the Rachel Alexandra (G2). However, she was wide on both turns that day and being close to the rail was undoubtedly the best place to be on that track that particular day. Sent to New York for the Gazelle (G2) at Aqueduct, Royal Obsession rebounded to finish a solid second to Lewis Bay, who has drawn rave reviews in the lead-up to the Oaks. This filly may or may not be able to turn the tables on that foe, but has the potential to take a step forward and earn a major share. It's interesting to note she was probably one of the few fillies in the country nominated to the Triple Crown; her connections have evidently always thought highly of her, and the distance certainly suits. If you're looking for an exotics kicker, this 20-1 shot is one to consider.
Kellie Reilly: Mokat’s eligible to step up off what she’s shown in California, since trainer Richard Baltas has said that she enjoys the Churchill surface a lot more than Santa Anita. She hasn’t done badly out there either when placing behind Songbird and Land Over Sea. After firing a six-furlong bullet at Santa Anita April 26, she’s impressed observers with her gallops at Churchill. Continued progression puts her right in the mix. A late nominee to the Oaks, Mokat is by the red-hot Uncle Mo (sire of Nyquist and Outwork) from a black-type-rich family. She could be overlooked, and I wouldn’t be surprised if her odds go north of her 20-1 morning line.
Ed DeRosa: Royal Obsession, for reasons explained in the top selections blog.