Untapable is undoubtedly the one to beat in the 2014 Kentucky Oaks, but she is far from unbeatable in what will represent her toughest test to date by far. Looking to take a shot at beating the heavy favorite, the first thing that stands out in handicapping the 14-horse Oaks field is the number of fillies that want to be on the lead. Knowing this, and considering that the nine furlongs of the race is farther than many of them have ever run, coupled with the unique pressures that a race like the Kentucky Oaks presents for these young fillies, I believe it may very well set up for a late runner. One such filly that could surprise on May 2, is Room Service.
Up until her last start, the bay daughter of More Than Ready had never competed on anything other than turf. It is in her last start, though, that I saw enough to consider her a real factor in the Oaks.
Bumped early, the Gary and Mary West homebred dawdled back in last in the 13-horse $500,000 Ashland Stakes field. The kind of taxing early fractions that we will likely see in ten days at Churchill Downs ensued, and Room Service was able to make a ton of ground on the far turn of the 8 ½ furlong affair. Swinging wide she was still full of run as the field hit the short stretch at Keeneland, but a rallying Rosalind was as well, and had the jump on her. In a full-out stretch run, Room Service kept coming and caught Rosalind on the wire for a grade 1 dead heat. Her determined sprint to the wire was extra impressive when you consider how well Rosalind was still running. The pair left the other 11 fillies in the Polytrack dust.
Yes, the Ashland was on Polytrack, meaning that her 6-3-1-2 lifetime record has been compiled on everything but the dirt she will see in the Oaks. It is a question mark, but considering her breeding, and her workouts on dirt, I believe there is good reason to believe that she will do just fine over the Churchill Downs main track. She certainly comes into the Oaks in fine fettle.
In her race before the Ashland, Room Service not only excelled at the nine furlong distance, but much like the Ashland, she closed like a rocket. Closing from last, she blew by her competition to win the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride going away. The final time of 1:46.82 pointed out what was bore out next time at Keeneland … this Wayne Catalano trained filly is getting good.
Getting back to that breeding that I like, Room Service is by the successful sire, More Than Ready. On the track, the son of Southern Halo was a grade 1 stakes winner on dirt, and finished a solid fourth in the 2000 Kentucky Derby. As a sire, More Than Ready has made a name for himself with many talented turf runners, but arguably his most notable American runner has been Verrazano, a multiple grade 1 winner on dirt.
On the female side, Room Service is out of the Old Trieste mare Dream Lady. Although she had plenty of dirt breeding, she did her best running on the grass, and was a stakes winner, and multiple graded stakes placed. As a broodmare, the 12-year-old has proven to be a big success. Her first foal, Major Gain, won the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity on Polytrack. The full brother to Room Service, also was beaten less than a length in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes over the Churchill Downs main track. In between the full siblings, Dream Lady also produced the four-year-old stakes winning filly, Oscar Party, who has also performed well on multiple surfaces including dirt.
In conclusion, Room Service has the breeding, form, and the race set-up to make some serious noise in the Kentucky Oaks. She will be one of my main plays. Editor's Note - Trainer Wayne Catalano decided not to run Room Service in the Oaks, believing grass is her best surface.
Time to toss one 2014 Kentucky Derby contender a day until we are down to only the horses which could actually win - #1 Harry's Holiday.