1. Unbridled Forever (Unbridled’s Song - Lemons Forever, by Lemon Drop Kid) Dallas Stewart – She’s been #1 on my list ever since her maiden win last fall, and I see no reason to lose faith in her yet. Her win in the Silverbulletday was everything I was looking for. She should be ready for the Fair Grounds Oaks, which is shaping up to be a monster of a 2014 Kentucky Oaks prep.
2. Untapable (Tapit - Fun House, by Prized) Steve Asmussen – Paddy O’ Prado’s little half sister can run! We already knew that to an extent last year as the winner of the Pocahontas at Churchill Downs, but her seasonal debut in the Rachel Alexandra was positively huge. A meeting with the top one in New Orleans looms.
3. Dame Dorothy (Bernardini - Vole Vole Monamour, by Woodman) Todd Pletcher – Looks like Bobby Flay has something big cooking in this good looking daughter of Bernardini. With only a maiden win at Aqueduct, and an allowance win at Gulfstream Park, she’s yet to run in a stakes race, but trust me, it’s only a matter of time before she is a stakes winner.
4. Please Explain (Curlin - Lizzy’s Bluff by Pine Bluff) Tom Proctor – Top Billing is not the only Curlin sophomore with big talent. This up and comer has broken out with two big wins in Florida, one at Gulfstream and one at Tampa Bay Downs, after showing promise last year in Kentucky. She was flattered when the filly she easily beat at Gulfstream, House Rules, came back with two solid efforts. Don’t discount just because she’s based in Tampa.
5. She’s A Tiger (Tale of the Cat - Shandra Smiles, by Cahill Road) Jeff Bonde – A deserving winner of the Juvenile Fillies Eclipse Award, this one proved to be a real tiger in each of her six starts in 2013. She has a lot in common with the previous year’s champion, Beholder, who was just caught late in the Oaks. Time is running a bit short on her, with no races yet this year, but she recorded her first work last week at Santa Anita.
6. Rosalind (Broken Vow - Critics Acclaim, by Theatrical) Ken McPeek – When last seen this Kenny McPeek trained filly was closing fast in a pair of grade 1 juvenile races on the left coast. She hasn’t gotten there in a stakes race yet, but her two-year-old races promise that she will sooner or later. She is scheduled to make her sophomore debut in Thursday’s 9th at Gulfstream Park in a strong allowance race.
7. Taris (Flatter - Comedy, by Theatrical) Todd Beattie - This one may be one that is not on your radar yet, as she was not even included on new Kentucky Oaks Future Wager, but she should be. The Claiborne bred filly has won her first two, a maiden at Aqueduct, and the Wide Country at Laurel, for fun. She’s bred to run long, and I have little doubt that she can compete with the big girls when she gets the chance.
8. Sweet Reason (Street Sense - Livermore Leslie, by Mt. Livermore) Leah Gyarmati - This is one that I’ve always liked a lot, but it seems that she is being brought back very slowly this year. Gyarmati says she hopes to have her ready for the Gazelle. I hope so too, because this daughter of a Derby winner was a consistent late runner in big spots as a juvenile, and I am looking for more of the same this year.
9. Fashion Plate (Old Fashioned - Miss Puzzle, by Citidancer) Simon Callaghan – She’s certainly done nothing wrong in two starts on a conventional dirt surface. A fast winner of a maiden sprint in her third career race, she stepped up in both class and distance to wire them in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes. While the win itself was not the most impressive thing I’ve ever seen, the fact that she did right out of a maiden sprint does speak to her class.
10. Bird Maker (Empire Maker - Bird Harbor, by Boston Harbor) Ian Wilkes – I am not to worried about her distant second to Dame Dorothy in her seasonal debut. The speed favoring, sloppy track was not exactly her cup of tea. Having liked what I saw from her when second to close out 2013 in last year’s Golden Rod, I look for solid improvement in Thursday’s test against Rosalind for her 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic winning trainer.
11. Onlyforyou (Malibu Moon - Erhu, by Tactical Cat) Todd Pletcher – Undefeated in four starts, it is hard to knock a filly who has been perfect too much, but I came away decidedly unimpressed with what I saw in the Davona Dale. Maybe she is the type who only does what she needs to win, but she is not likely to enjoy the picture perfect setup in Kentucky that she got Saturday in South Florida. My guess is her perfect record will fall by the wayside as the circumstances toughen up.
12. Ria Antonia (Rockport Harbor - Beer Baroness, by Mr. Greeley) Jeremiah Engelhart - Well, the filly that ran so big in the Breeders’ Cup certainly threw in a clunker in the Rachel Alexandra. Still a hard one to read, I remain confident that there is some serious talent in that beautiful frame of hers. Dull and tired this time, don’t be too surprised if she makes serious strides next time. Whether or not that makes her a big Oaks threat remains to be seen.
13. Arethusa (A. P. Indy - Miss Coronado, by Coronado's Quest) Eoin Harty – Watch out for this one. Sure, on several occasions she has looked terribly ordinary, but the Sharp Cat romp showed what she could do if she gets things her way. She was the only one really running late in the Las Virgenes, so maybe she is starting to get more consistent. If the pace is hot in the Oaks, Arethusa could be one of the big beneficiaries.
14. House Rules (Distorted Humor - Teamgeist, by Mutakddim) Allen Jerkens – She could not quite handle Please Explain or Onlyforyou in two of her last three starts, but on the other hand, she seems to be on a real upward trend for her master trainer. She did all the dirty work in chasing the winner in the Davona Dale. Unfortunately the moderate fractions and speed track left her little chance to win that day, but continued improvement makes her one to watch.
15. Jojo Warrior (Pioneerof The Nile - Carson Jen, by Carson City) Bob Baffert – I absolutely loved what I saw from this Zayat and Baffert runner in her career last September at Del Mar. Unfortunately, she has not run since. The good news is that she has now had three solid workouts at Santa Anita in the last two weeks, and should be coming back sometime soon. I have a feeling there is a lot of talent to his one.
16. Aragorn Ami (Aragorn - Galloping Ami, by Victory Gallop) Josie Carroll – The undefeated Canadian pulled off a surprise when winning the Martha Washington at the beginning of the month. Coming off only a maiden sprint at Woodbine, she now is a stakes winner, a winner at one-turn and two, and a winner on dirt and synthetics. All of this in only two starts. Look for her to be much more respected as she continues on the Oaklawn Park trail to the Oaks.
17. Fiftyshadesofgold (My Golden Song - Hadif Cat, by Hadif) Bret Calhoun – I don’t know if the Texas filly will turn out to be more than a sprinter, but I’ve liked everything I’ve seen so far. She has three impressive wins at three different tracks, and was knocked sideways in her only loss, which came in the Grade 2 Adirondack at Saratoga. Her breeding could go either way, as far as a distance; looking forward to seeing that question answered.
18. Handmade (Candy Ride - Hand Crafted, by Mineshaft) Neil Howard – With all eyes on the full sister of Rachel Alexandra, Samantha Nicole, making her career debut, few noticed this Farish homebred who was coming off a solid second place finish in her second career start. They noticed after she won in a romp. She looks to me like a filly eligible to keep getting better, and also appreciate the nine furlongs of the Oaks.
19. Got Lucky (A.P. Indy - Malka, by Deputy Minister) Todd Pletcher - I keep thinking that it is just a matter of time that this talented filly finally breaks through. She did get up for second in the Rachel Alexandra, but she wasn’t even in the picture with the winner. I have not given up on her completely yet, but maybe it is time to come to the conclusion that the Demoiselle field was just not very strong
T-20. Joint Return (Include - Brunswick Star, by Brunswick) John Servis – As eye-catching as her sweeping rally to win the Aqueduct’s Busher was, it was also slow, and against questionable competition. Having said that, she looks better with each start, and is another who should go the distance, and may appreciate a brisk pace at the nine furlong distance.