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2013 Kentucky Oaks – The Distinguished Dozen

1. Sign (Pulpit-Cross, by Mighty) Al Stall– Two starts was all it took for me to fall for this good looking filly set to carry on the legacy of her excellent, and recently deceased sire, Pulpit. And speaking of legacies, it's hard to believe that the legendary silks of Claiborne have never found their way into the Kentucky Oaks' winner's circle. In eye-catching scores in a Saratoga maiden race, and the Grade 2 Pocahontas at Churchill Downs, Sign demonstrated patience, the ability to overcome trouble and traffic, and a strong closing kick that I believe will prove very valuable come the first Friday in May. Don't be surprised to see Claiborne finally win the Oaks in 2013.

2. Emollient (Empire Maker-Soothing Touch, by Touch Gold) Bill Mott– It's all about potential with one. After a solid debut at nearly 20-1, finishing second to the good, Cue the Moon, the well bred filly came back nicely to graduate in her second start. Sent off as the favorite in the Grade 2 Demoiselle in her third and most recent start, it looked like a case of pure talent almost overcoming the circumstances. She could not get to Unlimited Budget that day, but I'm expecting a ton of improvement under the tutelage of her master conditioner. Time and maturity should be all that the extremely green filly I saw last time needs to turn it all around and become a major force in the division.

3. Beholder (Henny Hughes-Leslie's Lady, by Tricky Creek) Richard Mandella – Yes, she only won a single stakes race in 2012, but she is anything but a one-hit wonder. Keep in mind, she missed winning the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante by a nose after coming out of a 5 1/2 furlong maiden race, and her electrifying allowance score was easily the fastest rated race by the speed figure guys of any juvenile filly this year. The Breeders' Cup Juveniles Filly win was no fluke, and I see no reason to believe that her dangerous early speed won't be anything but dangerous again next year.

4. Dreaming of Julia (A.P. Indy-Dream Rush, by Wild Rush) Todd Pletcher– I look at this one's breeding, full of class, stamina, and speed, combined with her excellent  racing record, and find it hard to imagine her not being a factor at Churchill Downs. The Breeders' Cup third place finish was by no means poor, but considering she had to ship out west to face the top two on their home turf, plus the fact that she was coming off a huge performance, followed by a gut-wrenching victory in the Frizette, gives me plenty of reason to believe that she can turn the tables in the spring.

5. Pure Fun (Pure Prize-Kreisleriana, by Seeking the Gold) Ken McPeek – Talk about turning things around as the season went on, how about the final two races of the year for this daughter of Pure Prize? After looking for much of the season like an allowance type, she dazzled onlookers with a romping win in fast time on dirt in a Churchill Downs maiden race, and then followed that up with a last-to-first rush in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet. She may have been the beneficiary of having the speed softened up last time, but the pair of wins highlight her talent, while the experience at Churchill Downs, and her running style should fit well on Oaks Day.

6. Blonde Fog (Divine Park-Betty's Solutions, by Eltish) Bob Baffert  – There's nothing here to knock in her impressive debut performance, followed by a good 2nd in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet. Still a lot to learn about this lightly raced filly, but I was very impressed with her tenacious effort last time. Fighting off all challenges until the late stages when swept up by the fast finishing, Pure Fun, she then galloped out strongly like a horse who wants to run a distance. It looks like her Hall of Fame conditioner might have another good one in Blonde Fog. 
7. Executiveprivilege (First Samurai-Refugee, by Unaccounted For) Bob Baffert - The undisputed leader of her division for most of the year, had things go a little south in the late stages of 2012. Clearly a classy filly, her loss to rival, Beholder, in the Breeders' Cup, followed by a 4th place finish in the Hollywood Starlet, not only likely cost her an Eclipse Award, but also does not bode well for next year. Maybe she was just a little tired and will bounce back to regain her lofty position, but more often than not, juveniles who dominate early, only to lose that domination later in the season, never return to the number one spot.

8. So Many Ways (Sightseeing-Happy Scene, by FDehere) Anthony Dutrow – She was one of the elite fillies on 2012 after winning a Parx maiden, the Schuylerville Stakes, and the Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga impressively in her first three starts, but then we did not see her again. That's fine with me. Her connections made the admirable decision to give her the rest of the year off to grow and mature. You have to root for a group that makes this kind of decision in the face of the big money available at the Breeders' Cup. I must admit, I am rooting for the decision to pay off big for the group in 2013.
9. Spring Venture (Spring At Last-Zahwah, by Rahy) Mark Casse – Going out on a limb with this one, as she has yet to ever run a race on traditional dirt, but impressive wins at Woodbine were enough for me to know she has a world of talent. Her Breeders' Cup effort was a mess, and certainly not an indication of her talent, but if you look at her big wins in Canada, one on turf, and one on a synthetic surface, you will see that she dominated a pair of fillies that came down to Kentucky and scored big victories in Spring in the Air, and Seaneen Girl. It remains to be seen if dirt is her bag, but I believe this is a major talent for trainer Mark Casse
10. My Happy Face (Tiz Wonderful-Summer Star, by Siberian Summer) Rudy Rodriguez – I'm not really sure how far this one will go in 2013, but one thing I have little doubt in is her toughness. After winning by a pole in her second career start at the Spa, she did anything but in her next two starts. Not that she didn't run well, but in neither the Frizette nor the Tempted could she find an inch of breathing room. A nose loss was followed a nose victory, but in both performances, this granddaughter of Tiznow, proved tough as nails.

11. Unlimited Budget (Street Sense-Unlimited Pleasure, by Valid Appeal) Todd Pletcher - There is a lot to like here including an undefeated record, already having a win at nine furlongs, and a nice mix of speed and stamina in her pedigree, but still, I cannot shake the belief that the result of the Demoiselle will not hold up next year. Hey, I've been wrong before, and I'll be wrong again, but as of now, I believe the second place finisher, Emollient, will prove to be the bigger star coming out of  the Thanksgiving weekend affair at the Big A.
12. Kauai Katie (Malibu Moon-More Than Pretty, by More Than Ready) Todd Pletcher - Her win in the Grade 2 Matron Stakes was among the most impressive performances of the division this year, but distance questions abound after she faded to fourth in the Juvenile Fillies. A cross-country trip, after never having previously been past 6 1/2 furlongs, is certainly enough reason to give her another shot, but in my thinking, she is more likely to be geared towards one-turn races in the future.


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Older Comments about 2013 Kentucky Oaks – The Distinguished Dozen...

Pure Fun wins Oaks
I think Pure Fun will win oaks. It's her home track and a big strong filly. Look for her to lay just off the leaders then mow them down to win by 3 lenths
Texas Bling was an impressive maiden. She'll make the list soon enough.
Rose to Gold, Rose to Gold
My Happy Face of course, Sgn next.
My favorite filly is My Happy Face, with Sign as my second choice. This crop seems to be pretty good, as of now.
When you put all those fillies together, that is a great group. I hope they all have lots of starts in 2013 and we'll have a fantastic distaff year.
Sign, My Happy Face, Pure Fun, Dreaming of Julia all are impressive and will be fun to watch. Ready to get going on the new year and start the "countdown"!!!

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and American Pharoah. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as co-hosting the popular racing show, HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.


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