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HRN Original Blog:
Kentucky Oaks Runner

Closing in on the Kentucky Oaks

What’s not to like about the Kentucky Oaks? In 137 runnings, the Kentucky Oaks has produced some of the sports brightest stars and most thrilling memories and yet it still plays second fiddle to its world-famous counterpart, the Kentucky Derby. There are several upsides to rooting for the Kentucky Oaks and two especially big reasons to like it just as much as the Derby. First, the Kentucky Oaks is run at the same thrilling venue as the Derby but is restricted to a reasonable 14 horse field. This means it can be run as an actual race, with strategy and some amount of uniformity and not as mad-house 20 horse dash like the Derby. Ok, the Derby might not be that hectic, but there’s a whole lot more disarray once the field breaks from the gate than there is in the Oaks. Second, winners of the Kentucky Oaks, and participants in general, tend to have much longer careers on the track than winners and participants of the Kentucky Derby. Recent powerhouse fillies such as Rachel Alexandra and Blind Luck have provided some of the most exciting post-Oaks winning careers this decade. So I ask again; what’s not to like about the Kentucky Oaks? Absolutely nothing I say.
 
The Kentucky Oaks will be run for the 138th time this Friday at prestigious Churchill Downs and a full field of three-year-old fillies is expected. Much has taken place over the past week and a half that has seriously altered the shape of the Oaks field. The brilliant, undefeated Princess Arabella was retired due to an inflamed tendon that was discovered just one month after her powerful eight length romp in the Sunland Park Oaks. Trainer Bob Baffert was understandably disappointed with the loss of such a talented filly stating, “It’s a shame because she was such a brilliant filly, and it’s a big blow to the Baffert barn because it’s a freaky thing when you get a horse like that.”
 
Baffert lost a second Kentucky Oaks contender nine days after losing Princess Arabella when owner John Fort announced that undefeated Fantasy Stakes (gr.2) winner, Mamma Kimbo, would bypass the Oaks in favor of the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr.2) at Pimlico on May 18th. There is nothing wrong with the filly according to Fort, but he and Baffert felt she ran very hard in the Fantasy and requires a little more time between races, especially since she has only run twice in her life.
 
In other news trainer Todd Pletcher announced  Bourbonette Oaks winner, In Lingerie, would also skip the Kentucky Oaks and point towards the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes on Preakness Stakes day. He also confirmed that Broadway’s Alibi will contest the Kentucky Oaks, welcome news to many fans that have witnessed the filly’s impressive string of four consecutive wins, including back-to-back graded stakes triumphs. This is a granddaughter of Seattle Slew through her sire Vindication so the possibilities are endless and the Oaks field is surely enriched by her entry.
 
The D. Wayne Lukas trained Colonial Empress had her first recorded workout over the Churchill downs dirt strip on April 18th, running a bullet :47.00 flat for the four furlongs and then returned one week later on Wednesday the 25h to cover four furlongs in :48.40. As a daughter of Empire Maker she warrants respect, but in three career starts she has finished 4th, 3rd and 5th, all in stakes competition. Case in point, I don’t think she’s ready to win a race like the Oaks.
 
Friday was jam-packed with workouts from Oaks contenders and one of the best moves came from leading Oaks contender On Fire Baby who ran seven furlongs in 1:27.00 flat which was a two seconds better than Sacristy’s 1:29.00 move the same day. On Fire Baby is coming into the Oaks fresh after skipping the Arkansas Derby and/or Fantasy Stakes in favor of training straight up to the big race after her Honeybee Stakes (gr.3) win. This filly already has two wins at Churchill Downs so as far as I’m concerned she’s already got an edge over most of the Oaks contenders.
 
Davona Dale (gr.2) long-shot winner Yara also visited the track on Friday, posting a slow :51.00 four furlong breeze. She’ll enter the Oaks off a dismal 5th place finish behind Grace Hall in the Gulfstream Oaks Stakes (gr.2). The feeling here is that she’s going to have to show something huge on Oaks day in order to be a factor.
 
Hard Not to Like turned in a very nice work on Friday over Woodbine’s Polytrack. The Hard Spun filly covered five furlongs in 1:01 3/5, earning high praise from trainer Gail Cox. With a name like hers it really is hard not to like this filly, and being a Hard Spun filly just makes it all the better. She has just one start to her credit this year, a second place finish behind Karlovy Vary in the Grade 1 Central Bank Ashland Stakes.
 
Saturday saw even more Kentucky Oaks contenders hitting the track to strut their stuff. Eden’s Moon breezed six furlongs in 1:14.00 at Churchill, that followed a speedy 1:00.00 flat five furlong work on April 22nd. As incredible as it seems Bob Baffert still has a powerhouse filly in the Oaks after losing two already in Princess Arabella and Mamma Kimbo. Eden’s Moon seems to have lost a lot of respect after her third place finish in the Santa Anita Oaks (gr.1) behind Willa B Awesome who subsequently returned Saturday to win the Melair Stakes. I think Eden’s Moon has a huge shot at winning the Oaks.
 
Trainer Michael Matz already trains the best looking horse at Churchill Downs in Union Rags, and after his top Oaks contender, And Why Not, blazed through a four furlong work in :46.80 on Saturday to rank the best of 47 horses running the distance, it appears he has both his prospects in tip-top shape for their big weekends. And Why Not is a daughter of Street Cry and a granddaughter of A.P. Indy through her dam Alchemist. That makes for an excellent pedigree, but she has yet to live up to her potential with just a maiden win to her credit in five lifetime starts.
 
Broadway’s Alibi worked four furlongs in :48.45 at Palm Meadows Training Center for her final Oaks preparations. That’s faster than her :49.98 four furlong breeze prior to winning the Comely Stakes. She’s a very average worker who uses her blazing speed once the real running begins.
 
Karlovy Vary covered five furlongs in 1:01.20 at Churchill Downs, that follows a :48.60 four furlong breeze on April 20th. Daughter of the late, great stallion Dynaformer, Karlovy Vary enters the Oaks off an upset win in the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes.
 
Amie’s Dini wins the award for worst work of the weekend when she covered five furlongs in 1:05.40, somehow managing to run a faster time than two other horses. The feeling here is that she will have to be much sharper to win the Oaks or hit the top three. She performed admirably at Oaklawn Park this year, winning the Martha Washington Stakes before finishing second in both the Honeybee and Fantasy Stakes.
 
Grace Hall finally went to the track for her final Kentucky Oaks preparation Sunday over a wet track at Gulfstream Park. The Empire Maker filly went an easy four furlongs in :52.10, certainly not a fast time, but she looked great doing it and was tugging on the reins the whole time. Trainer Tony Dutrow just concerned with maintaining her excellent level of fitness right now without asking too much of her before the Oaks. There is no doubt she is the filly to beat after romping to victory in the Gulfsteam Oaks Stakes by more than six lengths. She’s performed well over the Churchill strip when finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr.1).
 
Believe You Can is rapidly beginning to display all the signs of a filly ready to run a big race. Aside from winning two of her last three starts, two of which were graded stakes, Believe You Can turned in a fantastic :59.00 flat five furlong bullet at Churchill Downs on April 23rd and then followed that up with an even more powerful :58.40 five furlong move on Saturday. That is a seriously impressive succession of works to post back-to-back on the brink of the biggest race of her career thus far.
 
It is now Tuesday, which means there are officially just three days until the Kentucky Oaks is run. Once the post positions are announced we’ll have a better idea of what the pace scenario could be and who stands to benefit from the positions. From there it should be easier to eliminate a few contenders and narrow down the list of contenders to a top three selection.

 

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Older Comments about Closing in on the Kentucky Oaks...

Sticking with On Fire Baby with Amie's Dini...
  • KyOaksRunner · I don't like how Amie's Dini is coming into the Oaks at all, but it's pretty tough to knock anything On Fire Baby has done! · 841 days ago
The Oaks this year is just as competitive as the derby. It could go to just about anyone, but I like Grace Hall and On Fire Baby. We shall see on Friday ;)
  • saratogaphil · Still sick about Princess Arabella not going but still a great race.Dont' forget Eden's Moon who can go distance and may bounce back from SA Oaks · 842 days ago
  • KyOaksRunner · I think you're absolutely right...Eden's Moon and Broadway's Alibi both seem to be getting overlooked right now. · 842 days ago
I mean Brian Z's correct first half of his Oaks-Derby double. Two Brians, no waiting.
  • KyOaksRunner · Trainer Calhoun said her last work was so strong he didn't want to overwork her because she's such a lightly built filly. · 842 days ago
Lots of love for Summer Applause!
SUMMER APPLAUSE will be ON FIRE BABY
Investigative reporters, Brians A-Z , any reason why Brian A's totally correct pick of Summer Applause has not worked out since the 20th?
Pace will make this race ;-)
@Brian - I'm hoping they give her at least a good blow-out before the Oaks. She hasn't worked since the 20th and that was a fantastic move! She's got a great shot with all the speed this year.
Grace Hall and On Fire Baby both drew towards the rail...favorites down on the inside side by side.
I'm going to try to beat the two favorites with my choice for the Oaks, Summer Applause.

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 Meet Brian Appleton 

Thoroughbred Horse Racing is my passion.  It started when at the age of 9 I found a book called Come On Seabiscuit by Ralf Moody on my Mother’s shelf.  Reading that book was one of the most exciting things I ever did as a kid. I read that book so many times that I had entire chapters committed to memory and the dust jacket worn and ripped beyond recognition from so much use. From that point on I was hopelessly addicted, reading every book on horse racing I could get my hands on, especially racehorse biographies. In 2009 I began my own blog called Rail Runner on wordpress and have continued to blog there to this day.

Curlin is probably my favorite racehorse of all time. Being able to attend six of his races will always be one of the highlights of my life. Whenever I need to re-find some inspiration in my life all I need to do is watch one of his incredible victories and relive the memories. Rachel Alexandra ranks right up there too. As any horse racing fan will tell you it’s almost impossible to choose just one favorite and I am no exception. Phar Lap and Citation are another two of my all time favorites and the list could go on and on.

I was homeschooled my entire life by my parents and graduated High School in 2006 at the age of 17.  Currently I am completing my Marketing degree with the hopes of entering the Thoroughbred Horse Racing field as a writer/journalist , or in the marketing/advertising/promotions side of the industry.

It is my dream to someday become a thoroughbred racehorse owner and win major races across the United States. Who wouldn't want that, right?  For about 1 ½ years I was part owner in a racehorse, Lord Greystoke raced, and owned by Hibiscus Stables. I was able to attend one of his races at Belmont Park on Kentucky Derby day, May 2, 2009 and it was an incredible experience. While Lord Greystoke finished 7th in the race, being able to stand in an owner’s box not 30 feet away from Penny Chenery’s owner’s box was one of the most amazing feelings in the world.

Later in the year Lord Greystoke was finally able to break through with a 4 ½ length win which made me feel like one of the world’s most accomplished thoroughbred owners and further fueled my appetite. I think it would be rally neat to win the Appleton Stakes (Gr.3) at Gulfstream Park, even though I'm generally a bigger fan of dirt racing I can't help but think it would be neat for me to win a race with the same name as my last name.

That’s me in a nutshell, just a very passionate, driven young guy that wants to be a part of this amazing sport and share the adventure with other fans.