Top fillies including Gulfstream Park Oaks winner Dreaming of Julia (3-1) and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies champion Beholder (7-2) will square off in the 139th Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on Friday.
Dreaming of Julia exits a scintillating performance at Gulfstream Park, where she left the competition more than 20 lengths in her wake. Tabbed as the favorite for this race, she will try to avenge a loss to the front running filly Beholder, who defeated her when annexing the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies in November at Santa Anita. Dreaming of Julia is trained by Todd Pletcher, while Richard Mandella will send out Beholder.
Shut of the Kentucky Derby, trainer Bob Baffert will try to shake things up here with Midnight Lucky. Although she has raced just twice, she is a stakes winner because of a last out win in the Sunland Park Oaks. Baffert has won this race twice previously, with Plum Pretty in 2011 and Silverbulletday in 1999.
“She’s only had two outs; her weakness is her foundation,” Baffert said. ”There are some good fillies in there. She has to break well. She ran a sprint and went a mile. Now she’s going a mile and an eighth against the best fillies. She has her work cut out for her.”
Midnight Lucky, listed at 9-2 on the morning line, will break from post position two under Rafael Bejarano.
Other entrants include Unlimited Budget (7-2), Close Hatches (6-1), Rose to Gold (15-1) and Flashy Gray (15-1).
The 1 1/8-miles dirt race is the headline event on a 12-race card that also features other stakes races such as the Alysheba, American Turf, La Troinne and Eight Belles. It is scheduled to take place as race 11 at 5:45 ET and will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network.