Paradise Woods the key to Oaks Day Pick 4

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

May 5th, 2017

It's sloppy and good (turf) to start this unseasonably cool Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill Downs. As far as the Oaks is concerned, Paradise Woods looks like a standout with a replication of her last race in the Santa Anita Oaks (G1). That's not a certainty, though. It was a huge effort which she is susceptible to bounce from, trainer Richard Mandella has been self-deprecating about his unsuccessful previous trips to Churchill Downs with other horses (notably Beholder), and there are some other nice fillies in the field, including Farrell, Salty, and Abel Tasman.

Nonetheless, I'll be singling Paradise Woods in the last leg of my 50-cent Pick 4 wager on Friday. Here's a look at my ticket through the first three legs.

Race 8 -- Eight Belles (G3) -- This 14-horse field of three-year-old fillies looks like a good spot to go deep. Benner Island (#1, 10-1) disappointed in the Fantasy (G3) last time, but local winner might prove better as a one-turn type. Union Strike (#2, 3-1) is logical off wins in the Del Mar Debutante (G1), but might not get such a favorable pace setup as she received in her comeback in the $75,000 Santa Paula. Pretty City Dancer (#4, 8-1) drew an awful post in the Davona Dale (G2) two back and had a rough trip in the Ashland (G1) last time; capable of better. Florida Fabulous (#9, 9-2) romped over two short fields at Gulfstream; tested for class here, but could be tough to catch. Ghalia (#10, 7-2) is another logical type that showed an ability to stalk-and-pounce in winning the Sunland Park Oaks after two wire jobs at Gulfstream. I'll also toss in Let It Ride Mom (#11, 8-1), who did little wrong at Woodbine last season and has been working well over this track, which will be her first on dirt.

Race 9 -- N2X Allowance -- Tom's d'Etat (#7, 7-2) has raced sporadically, but no doubting his talent. California invader River Echo (#4, 4-1) has developed into a stronger runner since moving to the Peter Miller barn. Naval Gazer (#1, 12-1) had a nice comeback run at Turfway and ran close in a higher class race here last summer. Taketothestreets (#3, 6-1), outclassed in a sub-par try in the Ben Ali (G3), fits on his recent Oaklawn form and has a solid record over this track.

Race 10 -- Edgewood (G3) -- The decision to keep La Coronel (#1A, 8-5) in here changes our thinking from our original posting. On the other hand, it's tempting to keep the ticket as is on the off chance she nor entrymate Dream Dancing doesn't adequately handle the softer ground. Proctor's Ledge (#7, 5-1) merits respect off her tough-trip third to La Coronel in the Appalachian, while India Mantuana (#4, 5-1) didn't have the cleanest of runs in the Herecomesthebride (G3) against Dream Dancing. Stallion Heiress (#6, 6-1) faces better company than she did at Fair Grounds, but could get brave on a potentially lonely lead. Journey Home (#5, 20-1) was a no-show in the Appalachian, but the Grade 3 scorer is perhaps capable of better.

Here's the 50-cent ticket: 1/2/4/9/10/11 with 1/3/4/7 with 1/4/5/6/7 with Paradise Woods (#4, 5-2) = $60.