Analysis: American Oaks distance benefits Colonia

December 29, 2018 01:46pm
Colonia_horse_Valley View 2018_615x400
Photo: Coady Photography
Originally a summer turf race for 3-year-old fillies at Hollywood Park, the Grade 1, $300,000 American Oaks moved to Santa Anita Park in 2015 and switched to a December date in 2016, while keeping the Grade 1 status throughout the changes.

Nine fillies are entered in Saturday's edition. The American Oaks goes off as Race 8. Post time is 6:34 p.m. ET.

Three fillies figure to attract money 
in the 1 ¼-mile contest: Amandine, Paved and Californiagoldrush. Amandine is not certain to run, as she won the Lady of Shamrock Stakes on opening day.

If Amandine remains, bettors will flock toward her despite the 4-1 morning line odds because she ran two visually sharp races in this country. For some reason, she turned into a new horse in North America after floundering in Europe. Maybe Lasix helped.

As for Paved, she ran second to Vasilika in the Rodeo Drive Stakes (G1) before encountering a troubled trip and finishing a distant 12th in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. If nothing else, she figures to attract support because of her familiarity.

The 5-2 morning line favorite is Californiagoldrush, who finished third in the Del Mar Oaks (G1) and then took the Sands Point Stakes (G2) at Belmont with a game effort. Otherwise, there is nothing too notable about her form, other than she loves to fight.

Is there a logical alternative to those three fillies?

One upset pick is Colonia, who also began her career in Europe and never won anything other than a maiden race. She then moved to North America and captured the Hatoof Stakes at Arlington right off the bat before finishing fifth in the Del Mar Oaks.

Colonia's Del Mar Oaks effort was better than it first appeared.



She started the race from last and still only had one horse beat at the top of the stretch. Once she straightened out, though, Colonia began to pass horses and moved well toward the finish line. It only seemed like the race ended too soon for her.

The following month, Colonia followed Californiagoldrush to Belmont and made another belated run in the Sands Point, finishing a closing third by two lengths.

Colonia did pick up a win in the shorter Valley View Stakes (G3) at Keeneland in October, but she also benefitted from Daddy Is a Legend crashing into the rail.

Closers do not always improve on the stretch out, but in this case Colonia might love the 10-furlong distance given former trainer Fabrice Chappet never started her at less than 1 3/16 miles overseas. The original connections believed Colonia was a marathoner.

In contrast, Amandine has never run farther than a mile. Trainer David Simcock started her 11 times in Europe, and eight of those races came at less than a mile. Also, Californiagoldrush shows no races past nine furlongs in four starts. Out of the favorites, Paved has the most experience running long with two 1 1/4-miles races in tow.

Colonia will go off as the third choice or higher. If she falls lower than the three fillies above, then the underlaid label is applicable. Otherwise, she is a good play.

Amandine still looks possible for the American Oaks and, despite the lack of starts beyond one mile, her pedigree signals she may handle the distance.

The sire Shamardal made seven career starts and only failed to place once in the UAE Derby (G2) on synthetic. Two starts after the Dubai flop, he won the 2005 Prix du Jockey Club (G1) at one mile and 2 1/2 furlongs, which is farther than 1 1/4 miles. Plus, Amandine’s dam, Kissable, won the 1 1/2-mile Waya Stakes in 2012 at Saratoga.

When Amandine won the Lady of Shamrock, she appeared in another league than those overmatched fillies.



The final margin is not as significant as how easy she accomplished the task. She also won coasted home first in her North American debut at Del Mar. If Amandine runs and handles the 1 1/4-miles distance, she will prove a tough challenge.

How about the other fillies?

Competitionofideas comes off a third-place finish in the off-the-turf Winter Memories Stakes at Aqueduct for trainer Chad Brown. Previously, she broke her maiden by an impressive eight lengths and also won an allowance race at Belmont Park.

One major strike against Competitionofideas is her pedigree, as it looks sprinter-oriented on the bottom side. Her dam Devil By Design won the seven-furlong Chicago Handicap in 2012 and generally competed in sprint stakes races. That is a bad sign for her.

Another fringe contender is Princess Warrior, the Mrs. Revere Stakes (G2) winner at Churchill Downs over yielding turf. Before that, she finished fourth to Rushing Fall in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes (G1), although a slow pace hurt her.

She also ran a fine second in the 1 5/16-mile Dueling Grounds Oaks at Kentucky Downs, which shows the 1 1/4-mile distance is not going to damage her chances.

Princess Warrior tries hard every time. It feels like another filly will step up and beat her for the win spot, but she deserves inclusion underneath and as a B or C option. 

K P Pergoliscious and Retro complete the field, and both of them will be longshots. But bettors might find them useful in the third or fourth slots. Kodiak West is scratched.  

Colonia is improving, and the public might dismiss her because she finished behind Californiagoldrush twice. If she runs, Amandine’s presence will also help Colonia’s value, although that is one talented filly to face. The distance could equalize them.  

Use Colonia as an A or B option horizontally along with Amandine, Paved and Californiagoldrush. If Colonia holds at 6-1 or higher, a win/place bet is logical too.

 

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Meet Reinier Macatangay

My first time at the racetrack came as a 5-year-old kid at Santa Anita Park. For most of my younger life, that was the only track I attended other the occasional visit to Hollywood Park. 

Years later, after graduating California State University, Stanislaus with an English MA, I began writing for Lady and the Track. From late 2014-2016, my articles were seen on a weekly basis and covered handicapping, interviews with well-known racing personalities, fashion and more. 

The handicapping style I use concentrates on pace analysis. Some horses are compromised by the pace. Others are helped. Handicappers just starting out cannot easily see how pace affects the finish, so with this blog, I hope to help those unsure of how to apply pace into their handicapping and post-race analysis. 

On an unrelated note, I enjoy video games and attending anime or comic-book conventions. I am currently based in Kentucky, but spend a lot of time traveling between there and California.

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