Like last month’s G2 Davona Dale Stakes, the G2 Gulfstream Oaks drew a short field, but what the field lacks in quantity it more than makes up for in quality. The top two finishers from the Davona Dale, Live Lively and Dreaming of Julia, are back for a rematch, but if either wants to win, they will have to worry about more than just each other.
1. Cue the Moon—(Malibu Moon—Red Hot Bertie, by Tabasco Cat) This lightly raced daughter of Malibu Moon comes into the Gulfstream Oaks off a nearly five month layoff. She has the benefit of having the red hot Rosie Napravnik in the irons, but that is about all she has going for her. Aside from inexperience and the long layoff, I question how far this one really wants to go. Her dam Red Hot Bertie has yet to produce a router, and I have my doubts as to how the stamina oriented Malibu Moon will balance things out. All things considered, I would not touch Cue the Moon at her morning line odds of 4-1.
2. Original Script—(Malibu Moon—Seanachai, by El Prado [IRE]) In three career starts, Original Script’s only loss came when she did not have the lead. All three starts were at 8.5 furlongs, so I do not see the additional half a furlong in the Oaks being a problem. Saturday’s race will be her first start away from Woodbine and consequently her first start on traditional dirt. How she makes that transition and reacts to possibly not being on the lead will make all the difference in her performance.
3. Live Lively—(Medaglia d’Oro—Glacken’s Gal, by Smoke Glacken) Last out, Live Lively went straight out to the lead and had things all her own way, defeating highly regarded Dreaming of Julia. The Mark Hennig trainee has done nothing wrong at Gulfstream, but despite her victory last time around, she has still been installed as the co-second choice. She will likely have a good deal of competition for the lead, but she has shown that she does not need to be on the pace in order to win.
4. Kimberly Jean—(More Than Ready—Grey Song, by Unbridled’s Song) The Kenneth McPeek trained gray daughter of More Than Ready is the morning line long shot. In six career starts, she has only one win. Since she has been at Gulfstream, however, she has appeared to improve. Whether the improvement is due to an affinity for the track (In 3 starts at Gulfstream, she is 3: 1-2-0.) or a change in running style is hard to say since both changes occurred at the same time. Before racing at Gulfstream, Kimberly Jean raced well off the pace but could never close well enough to be finish better than third. Since arriving at Gulfstream, she has stalked the pace and improved her finishes. I do not think she is in the same class as the rest of the field and do not see her being a huge factor in the race.
5. Dreaming of Julia—(A. P. Indy—Dream Rush, by Wild Rush) After going undefeated in her first three career starts, Dreaming of Julia has not seen the winner’s circle since October. Both losses came when she was not on the pace, so jockey John Velazquez will need to have her either on the lead or closely pressing the pace if the duo hopes to come away with a win.
6. Emollient—(Empire Maker—Soothing Touch, by Touch Gold) Juddmonte Farm’s regally bred filly has the advantage of being the only entrant in the field to have already been tested at 9 furlongs. In the mile and an eighth G2 Demoiselle, she ran into still undefeated Unlimited Budget who was able to set soft fractions. Despite the soft fractions, Emollient finished just a length and a quarter behind the winner that day. With both her sire and damsire being Belmont Stakes winners, distance is not likely to be an issue.
On paper, the Gulfstream Oaks looks to be heavy on speed. With the change in racing style by Kimberly Jean, there is no filly in the field that runs well off the pace. Original Script and Dreaming of Julia have shown that they need to be either on or very near the pace. Live Lively wired the last two fields she faced but she does not need the lead in order to be a factor. I expect the field to be tightly bunched with Original Script and Dreaming of Julia out front and the other four fillies right behind in good stalking positions. The field is certainly not short on talent, but the top three on the morning line, Dreaming of Julia, Emollient, and Live Lively, look hard to beat. It is going to be a very chalky pay day with Emollient on top of Julia and Live Lively.