Friday's 11th race from Churchill Downs is the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks for three-year-old fillies traveling a mile and an eighth on the main track (Post Time 5:51 p.m. ET).
#6 TRAVEL COLUMN (3-1) has been my top ranked Kentucky Oaks contender for quite some time. I always thought the Golden Rod (G2) was the top juvenile race in this division, and Travel Column overcame trouble to beat Clairiere that day. Those two traded punches at Fair Grounds this winter and my top choice should get a jump on her nemesis once again. The FG Oaks (G2) has been a productive prep for this and Brad Cox saddled the Kentucky Oaks winner in 2020 and 2018 (Shedaresthedevil, Monomoy Girl).
#3 Clairiere (5-1) has always acted like a long distance sort and she figures to relish the added ground of this race. She needs pace help.
#10 Malathaat (5-2) might be better than these. Todd Pletcher’s $1 million filly is a perfect four-for-four and she was visually impressive running down Pass the Champagne in the short stretch of the Ashland (G1) April 3. That was her first start in almost four months and she is a graded winner at this distance.
#12 Search Results (3-1) is three-for-three for Chad Brown and she is training well for this. Her tactical speed should lead to an outside stalking trip.
I have always liked #14 Millefeuille (20-1). I picked her on top in the Demoiselle (G2), Davona Dale (G2), and GP Oaks (G2), and she landed the place in two of those races. She is back in form and might move forward in her third start after a layoff, and she is firing bullets for this.
#4 Crazy Beautiful (15-1) looked good rallying for the win in the GP Oaks (G2) March 27. She was a quality juvenile as well and is definitely faster this year. She will try to get involved late in her third start after a layoff.
#5 Pass the Champagne (10-1) ran too good to lose in the Ashland (G1). She stretched out that day, and stalked from an inner post, took over, and was nailed on the line by Malathaat. She had every advantage in that mile and a sixteenth affair but could not quite hold off the classy winner. The added ground of this race probably does her no favors.
#8 Moraz (30-1) burned me in her last pair at Santa Anita. She looked home free in the Match 7 Santa Ynez (G3) but Umberto Rispoli got fidgety in the saddle and mistakenly looked back for the competition, and Beautiful Gift nailed her on the wire. She set very slow splits from the rail in the SA Oaks (G2) and weakened to 3rd in a four-horse field. She is most effective with a target to chase and she figures to revert to patient tactics under her new rider Flavien Prat.
#11 Will’s Secret (30-1) had her three-race win streak snapped when best of the rest in 3rd in the Ashland (G1). The versatile filly would need a lifetime best to topple these.
#2 Maracuja (20-1) stretched out and was second best in the Gazelle (G2) at this distance April 3. She will need to move forward again to threaten these.
#1 Pauline’s Pearl (20-1) stalked and scored from the outside post in the Fantasy (G3) April 3. She continues to inch forward for Steve Asmussen.
#9 Coach (50-1) was a promising 3rd in the Golden Rod (G2) after winning her first three starts last year, but she did not continue to develop like Golden Rod exacta finishers Travel Column and Clairiere. She hit the board in two of her three stakes starts this year and seems a cut or two below the top contenders.
#13 Competitive Speed (50-1) goes out there and gives a good account of herself most of the time but she has never seriously threatened for the win vs. this kind.
#7 Ava’s Grace (50-1) has some sort of physical issue and has been scratched.
#6 to win
Trifecta Key 6/3-10-12-14
Recent Best Bet Winners
April 6 - IRISH CORK ($3.40), Exacta ($36.00)
April 10 - JULIET FOXTROT ($5.40), Exacta ($20.60)
April 16 - Bonny South/Royal Flag Exacta ($26.60)
April 17 - SAY THE WORD ($7.20)
April 22 - Daddy Is a Legend/Winter Sunset/Temple City Terror Trifecta ($298.80)
April 24 - Whisper Not/Keeper Ofthe Stars/Restrainedvengence Trifecta ($113.40)
April 25 - NONE ABOVE THE LAW ($8.40)
April 26 - Sheer Flattery/Midnight Act Exacta ($25.00)
Aprill 28 - Averly Jane/Vodka N Water Exacta ($12.60)