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Breeders' Cup 2017
HRN Original Blog:
Kentucky Oaks Runner

Kentucky Oaks 137: "The Novel Nine"



In 2007 a beautiful chestnut filly by A. P. Indy broke from the gates in the third leg of the Triple Crown, stumbled badly and almost fell to her knees. Barely missing a beat she picked herself right up and went on to become the first filly in more than 100 years to win the Belmont Stakes. She defeated future 2-time Horse of the Year Curlin in a furious head-to-head battle that waged the length of Belmont Park’s long homestretch to earn the victory.
In 2009 a striking daughter of Medaglia d’Oro led a merry chase around the Pimlico race strip to win the Preakness Stakes over a field of 12 talented colts, becoming the first filly in 85 years to win the race and the first horse of either sex to win from the 13th post position.
In 2010 a Pollard’s Vision filly, slight in stature but endowed with an indomitable spirit, traveled across the nation multiple times, winning five races in five different states including four Grade 1’s. In nine 2010 starts she never finished worse than third.
You most likely know the names of all three fillies I am talking about: Rags To Riches, Rachel Alexandra and Blind Luck. Together they represent three of the decade’s most powerful Champion Three Year Old Fillies in history and they all have one thing in common: they each won the Kentucky Oaks (gr.1).
Since its inception in 1875 as the counterpart to its more famous sibling, the Kentucky Derby, the Kentucky Oaks has become one of the most fabled, coveted and prestigious races a filly can win or compete in during her lifetime. In the past decade seven Kentucky Oaks winners have gone on to capture the Eclipse Award as outstanding Three Year Old Filly. The last four years alone have resulted in four consecutive champions, further cementing the Oaks as a career defining race.
Starting in 1981 the Kentucky Oaks has been run at a 1 1/8 miles distance after bouncing around from 1/ ½ miles down to 1 1/16 miles. Offering a rich $500,000 purse since 1996, Churchill Downs officials made a bold decision this year to double the purse to a lucrative $1 million for the 137th running of the Oaks, making it the second richest race in the commonwealth behind only the $2 million Kentucky Derby.
Already this year the search is on for the next winner of the Kentucky Oaks and instead of creating an Oaks Dozen, I decided to create a “The Novel Nine”, a compilation of my top nine current Kentucky Oaks contenders. Three fillies will get honorable mention each week as well.

So without further ado here is the rundown of the top nine 137th Kentucky Oaks contenders.
The Novel Nine:
1) Kathmanblu won the Sweetest Chant Stakes on turf fresh off a win in the Golden Rod Stakes where she romped by more than 10 lengths over the Churchill Downs dirt strip. Her latest two performances appeared effortless not to mention powerful, if she continues running at her current level you could be looking at the Kentucky Oaks favorite.
2) Dancinginherdreams may not be undefeated after her second place finish in the January 30th Forward Gal Stakes, but she closed like an express train from second last, came off the turn 8 wide and still made up about 10 lengths on the winner to lose by less than a length. She will be a force to be reckoned with in the Davona Dale, that you can be sure of.
3) Zazu is the new filly on the block after taking down the previously undefeated Turbulent Descent in the Las Virgenes Stakes. She showed a tremendous closing kick to rally from far back in the Las Vigenes and plenty of courage to stave off a run from Turbulent Descent in the stretch. She should keep improving as the year goes on.
4) Turbulent Descent is talented, tested and went undefeated in 3 starts as a juvenile. She may have finished second in her 2011 debut in the Las Virgenes Stakes but hard fought runner up finish should get some solid condition into her for her next start.
5) Tell A Kelly won the Grade 1 Debutante in September before finishing 2nd in the Oak Leaf Stakes and 7th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Not exactly the kind of progression you like to see in an Oaks contender but her last start came in the form of a very promising fast-closing third in the Hollywood Starlet behind Turbulent Descent.
6) Royal Delta has run and won just once, at Belmont Park on October 30th, but that one victory was the most overpowering juvenile filly performance that was run last year by far. After waiting behind horses down the backside, Royal Delta swung around horses coming off the turn and exploded down the stretch to win going away by 12 lengths with absolutely no encouragement from jockey Jose Lezcano. She’s got the talent and the pedigree, now let’s see her run against some tougher competition.

7) Alec’s Moon was a very impressive winner of the Portland Oaks on January 29th, winning the 1 mile race by 6 ½ lengths. She employed a perfect pace-stalking trip in the Portland Oaks and accelerated with ease in the stretch, crossing under the wire with ears pricked. She’ll need to face a deeper field before she moves up the list but the potential is there.
8) Delightful Mary finished a good third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies last year behind a victorious Awesome Feather and R Heat Lightning. After starting out her career with a maiden win and allowance victory, Delightful Mary entered the Juvenile Fillies off a second place finish in the Mazarine Stakes. There’s a lot of room for improvement with this filly.
9) A Z Warrior is from the first crop of red-hot young sire Bernardini. She won the Grade 1 Frizette Stakes in October before finishing a dull 12th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies after bruising her foot. She has been training extremely well in 2011 for her sophomore debut whenever that might be.
Honorable Trio:
Gran Lioness, Rigoletta and Pomeroy’s Pistol.
Thank you to everyone for your support and encouragement as I start this blog and special thanks to the Horse Racing Nation team for giving me this chance. Don’t forget to add Kentucky Oaks Runner to your favorites and bookmarks. I’ll be back on Tuesday with more news and rankings, until then please share your Kentucky Oaks thoughts and feedback.


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Older Comments about Kentucky Oaks 137: "The Novel Nine"...

Thank you very much! I love Zazu and think she is maturing at exactly the right time, I love how she seemed to improve with each of her last races in such easy progression. If she ever gets into the starting gate with Dancinginherdreams it could be a really nice race to watch, both closers and both appear white.
Great blog, Brian! Welcome to HorseRacingNation! Really like this list you have put together. Keep an eye on Zazu, She's gangly, clumsy sort right now but she's all power and when she matures a bit and puts it all together, this will be a good one. She's fun to watch race.
Thanks Scott, that means a lot coming from a professionaly published writer
Very nicely done, Brian. Your bio is nice and thorough, and I understand what you mean about Curlin; that race I went with you to was fantastic. I am so thrilled that you, too, are a writer. It must run in our family!
Ruthenia does look like a very good filly and it was nice to see Excited, who finished second to her in the Good Mood Stakes, comeback and finish second to Kathmanblu in the Sweetest Chant Stakes. I would love to see her try dirt in her next start. She's only had one workout this year in early January and no news since.
Im telling you guys Ruthenia is going to be a Big Player in the 3 year old fillie divison this year!!!
Thank you very much! Who do you like best of the three tapit's? I'm crazy about Dancinginherdreams right now, I can't wait to see her in the Davona Dale.
Great job Brian, and I love that three of your choices were sired by Tapit.
Thanks! I love the Oaks too, I attended for the first time last year and it was fantastic, coulnd't have had a more exciting first trip!
Great start, Brian. Love the 3yo fillies and the Kentucky Oaks. Couldn't get much more exciting than last year's Oaks. What a race!
I debated for quite awhile on whethor or not I should give her honorable mention or list her. After watching her race again I decided she deserved to be one the list. Thanks Brian, that's not too bad for a "breaking your maiden" performance. :-)
Pretty gutsy to put the Portland Oaks winner that high ;-) Great debut post, Brian ... 107 Beyer at least!

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 Meet Brian Appleton 

Thoroughbred Horse Racing is my passion.  It started when at the age of 9 I found a book called Come On Seabiscuit by Ralf Moody on my Mother’s shelf.  Reading that book was one of the most exciting things I ever did as a kid. I read that book so many times that I had entire chapters committed to memory and the dust jacket worn and ripped beyond recognition from so much use. From that point on I was hopelessly addicted, reading every book on horse racing I could get my hands on, especially racehorse biographies. In 2009 I began my own blog called Rail Runner on wordpress and have continued to blog there to this day.

Curlin is probably my favorite racehorse of all time. Being able to attend six of his races will always be one of the highlights of my life. Whenever I need to re-find some inspiration in my life all I need to do is watch one of his incredible victories and relive the memories. Rachel Alexandra ranks right up there too. As any horse racing fan will tell you it’s almost impossible to choose just one favorite and I am no exception. Phar Lap and Citation are another two of my all time favorites and the list could go on and on.

I was homeschooled my entire life by my parents and graduated High School in 2006 at the age of 17.  Currently I am completing my Marketing degree with the hopes of entering the Thoroughbred Horse Racing field as a writer/journalist , or in the marketing/advertising/promotions side of the industry.

It is my dream to someday become a thoroughbred racehorse owner and win major races across the United States. Who wouldn't want that, right?  For about 1 ½ years I was part owner in a racehorse, Lord Greystoke raced, and owned by Hibiscus Stables. I was able to attend one of his races at Belmont Park on Kentucky Derby day, May 2, 2009 and it was an incredible experience. While Lord Greystoke finished 7th in the race, being able to stand in an owner’s box not 30 feet away from Penny Chenery’s owner’s box was one of the most amazing feelings in the world.

Later in the year Lord Greystoke was finally able to break through with a 4 ½ length win which made me feel like one of the world’s most accomplished thoroughbred owners and further fueled my appetite. I think it would be rally neat to win the Appleton Stakes (Gr.3) at Gulfstream Park, even though I'm generally a bigger fan of dirt racing I can't help but think it would be neat for me to win a race with the same name as my last name.

That’s me in a nutshell, just a very passionate, driven young guy that wants to be a part of this amazing sport and share the adventure with other fans.

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