Race of the Week 2017

2013 Kentucky Oaks: Pedigrees and Picks

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Photo: Eclipse Spotswire
Sports media's gaze has shifted to Kentucky. Practically every hair covering the Kentucky Derby contenders has been analyzed, morning works are scrutinized and debates rage over the ability of this or that horse to get 1 ¼ miles. However, before the colts take their spot in the gate on Saturday, we have another another race, no less important, on Friday. The Kentucky Oaks field is just as deep and contentious as the colt counterpart. A potential superstar or two may emerge from the Oaks.

There's no shortage of speed in the Oaks. Nine of the ten fillies like to set or press the pace. Three of them are undefeated. I'll rate each filly's overall chances using pedigree, class and running style.

BEHOLDER (Henny Hughes - Leslie's Lady, by Tricky Creek)
Race record: 8-5-2-0 ($1,575,000)
The daughter of sprinter Henny Hughes is two noses away from being undefeated in her last seven starts. Beholder does her best running on the lead. The three times that she failed to win, she sat behind another horse. Beholder has a sprinter/miler pedigree. Her sire failed to win past seven furlongs and has produced only one stakes winner at 1 1/8 miles, out of a Dynaformer mare. Beholder's dam Leslie's Lady is a stakes winning sprinter. Damsire Tricky Creek also gets sprinters. As a damsire, he's represented by one stakes winner at 1 1/8 miles. Beholder is a half sister to the stand-out new sire Into Mischief, sire of Kentucky Derby contenders Goldencents and Vyjack. Into Mischief won up to 1 1/16 miles. Beholder will take the field as far as she's able, yet with other speed breathing down her neck, she may falter in the final furlong. Overall Score: B

CLOSE HATCHES (First Defence - Rising Tornado, by Storm Cat)
Race record: 3-3-0-0 ($201,300)
This untested, undefeated filly also likes to run on the lead. She beat Oaks entrant Princess of Sylmar by 3 ¼ lengths in the 1 1/8 mile Gazelle Stakes (G-1) in a strong 1:50.53. On the same day, Verrazano the unbeaten possible favorite for the Kentucky Derby won the Wood Memorial by a neck in 150.27. Close Hatches descends from racing royalty. Her fourth dam Best In Show is the dam of Kentucky Oaks winner Blush with Pride. She's also the third dam of Oaks/Belmont Stakes heroine Rages to Riches, her half brother Jazil, also a Belmont Stakes winner. Overall Score: A

DREAMING OF JULIA(A.P. Indy - Dream Rush, by Wild Rush)
Race record: 6-4-1-1 ($767,000)
The highly anticipated first foal out of the multiple graded stakes winning Dream Rush provided racegoers with a jaw-dropping 21 ¾ length performance in the 1 1/8 mile Gulfstream Oaks in a blazing 1:48.97. As a reference, top Kentucky Derby contender Orb won the Florida Derby in 1:50. 87. Dreaming of Julia has proven that she can sit behind the pace if necessary. The gallant filly is also battle tested. She prevailed by a hard fought head in an epic battle last year in the Frizette (G-1), in what was essentially a match race against the brilliant filly My Happy Face. Overall Score: A

FLASHY GRAY (Flashy Bull - Pleasure Cat, by Cat's Career)
Race record: 5-2-3-0 ($196,100)
Scratched due to foot bruise.

MIDNIGHT LUCKY (Midnight Lute - Citiview, by Citidancer)
Race record: 2-2-0-0 ($153,600)
The pretty gray daughter of new sire Midnight Lute is the most lightly raced filly in the Oaks field with only two starts under her girth. She set a new track record for 1 1/6 miles in 1:41.06 in the Sunland Park Oaks over a lightning fast track. Two-time Sprint Champ Midnight Lute is also the sire of Derby entrant, Louisiana Stakes runner-up MyLute. Midnight Lucky's half sister is a stakes placed sprinter. Their dam, 0-10 in her racing career, is a full sister to the multiple graded stakes winning sprinter Hookedonthefeeling. That one is the dam of multiple grade 1 sprinter Pussy Cat Doll, a daughter of Midnight Lute's sire, Real Quiet. Midnight Lucky's damsire Citidancer is the broodmare sire of five stakes winners at 1 1/8 miles. The talented Midnight Lucky should handle 1 1/8 miles, but she may lack the experience to run with the big girls. Overall Score B

PRINCESS OF SYLMAR (Majestic Warrior - Storm Dixie, by Catienus)
Race record: 6-4-1-0 ($238,220)
The daughter of new promising sire Majestic Warrior had her four race winning streak snapped in the Gazelle Stakes (G-1), her first graded stakes contest. To be fair, Princess of Sylmar was wide the entire way and simply couldn't catch Close Hatches. Majestic Warrior is the sire of five stakes winners. The second crop sire's babies have yet to win past 1 1/16 miles, although two have placed at 1 1/8 miles. Princess of Sylmar's dam is stakes placed at 1/16 miles over the lawn. There is little blacktype in this distaff family. Princess of Sylmar's pedigree is borderline for 1 1/8 miles. She's proven against listed winners in New York, but will be facing more accomplished rivals in the Oaks. Overall Score: C

PURE FUN (Pure Prize - Chelsea Green, by Key to the Mint)
Race record: 10-3-1-2 ($353,699)
There's no doubt Pure Fun loves Churchill Downs after she recorded the best finish of her career, a 9 ¼ length route against allowance winners over the track. The daughter of Pure Prize was victorious in the Hollywood Starlet (G-1) at 1 1/16 miles in her two year old finale, but she hasn't retained that form at three. She does have an excuse, since both of her starts this year came over Polytrack. Pure Fun is the best foal produced by her dam. There's a smattering of black-type throughout her female family. Pure Fun damsire, Brilliant/Classic Chef-de-race Key to the Mint has one recent stakes winner at 1 1/8 miles, Breeder's Cup Distaff heroine Adoration. Pure Fun has the pedigree to handle 1 1/8 miles and she loves the Churchill surface. The switch back to dirt makes her an intriguing long shot. Overall Score: B

ROSE TO GOLD (Friends Lake - Saucy, by Tabasco Cat)
Race record: 7-5-1-0 ($717,889)
Rose to Gold's connections had a high opinion of their filly from the start. The daughter of Friends Lake started her career as a stakes winner at Calder, destroying her competition by a combined 26 lengths in her first two starts. Rose to Gold enters the Oaks after easy victories in the Honeybee and Fantasy Stakes. Friends Lake hasn't sired a stakes winner at 1 1/8 miles. His dirt progeny are best as sprinter milers, yet a few of his offspring have won at routes over turf and synthetics. Rose to Gold's damsire pulled off a Preakness/Belmont Stakes double. He's the damsire of seven stakes winners at 1 1/8 miles, including Kentucky Derby runner-up Ice Box. Rose to Gold is the first stakes winner in two generations of her distaff family. Her unraced dam is a full sister to a stakes placed sprinter. Rose to Gold's pedigree is borderline for 1 1/8 miles, but she's proven her class over graded stakes foes at Oaklawn and she teams with one of Churchill's most winning jocks, Calvin Borel. Overall Score: B

SEANEEN GIRL(Spring At Last - Afternoon Krystal, by Afternoon Deelites)
Race record: 7-2-1-2 ($220,197)
Seaneen Girl won the Golden Rod (G-2) at Churchill in her two year old finale. She enters the Oaks with only one prep under her girth, a third place in the Fair Grounds Oaks, finishing four lengths behind the winner Unlimited Budget. Her second crop sire hasn't produced a winner at 1 1/8 miles. He's a winner at the distance and it's simply a matter of time before his offspring win at middle distances. Seaneen Girl's damsire Afternoon Deelites was a multiple graded sprinter/miler. His daughter's offspring tend to be sprinter/miler types, although one stakes winner at 1 1/8 miles is evident. Seaneen Girl's dam Afternoon Krystal is a half sister to the stakes winning stakes veteran Red Raymnond. Seaneen Girl's pedigree indicates that she may be able to win at 1 1/8 miles. She's had a consistent series of four and five furlong works, but running the longest race of her career off of an average prep race is a tall task. Overall Score: C

SILSITA(Macho Uno - Naturally Wild, by Wild Again)
Race record: 4-2-0-1 ($84,725)
Silsita has been facing lesser company than she'll meet in the Oaks. She fought bravely to win the Bourbonette Oaks (G-3) at Turfway to earn her way to Churchill. Silsita has the pedigree to handle 1 1/8 miles. She's descended from a hardy stakes winning family. Her dam a veteran of 33 starts, won her maiden over the Churchill dirt, but found her calling as a multiple stakes placed turf miler. Silsita's sire, a Champion Juvenile, is the sire of six stakes winners at 1 1/8 miles, including the hard-trying Mucho Macho Man and Stephen Foster hero Macho Again, who, like Silsita, is out of a Wild Again mare. Silsita has shown her tenacity on the track, but will be taking a huge class jump in the Oaks. It may be tough for her to win, but she could place at attractive odds. Overall Score: C

UNLIMITED BUDGET(Street Sense - Unlimited Pleasure, by Valid Appeal)
Race record: 4-4-0-0 ($610,200)
Unlimited Budget proved her ability and class at 1 1/8 miles last year with a 1 ¼ length victory in the Demoiselle Stakes (G-2) over future Grade 1 winner Emollient. Unlimited Budget has a classy female family. She's a half sister to Grade 3 juvenile stakes winners Beacon Shine and Jardin. Their dam is a half sister to Super Derby hero Outofthebox and a half sister bore multiple graded stakes winner Tackleberry. Unlimited Budget had two strong preps in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes and Fair Grounds Oaks. Overall Score: A

Race Analysis:
Saying that there's a ton of speed in the Oaks is an understatement. Some of these fillies are so talented that they've simply overwhelmed their competition, although they don't appear speed crazy and should handle sitting farther behind a brisk pace. Six of the last ten Oaks heroines pressed or set the pace throughout the race while two sat mid-pack early and two were closers.

Three fillies, Dreaming of Julia, Close Hatches and Unlimited Budget have already proved themselves at 1 1/8 miles. Three haven't tried the distance but they have the pedigree to handle 1 1/8 miles, Midnight Lucky, Silsita and Pure Fun. Princess of Sylmar, Seaneen Girl and Rose to Gold are borderline to get 1 1/8 miles and Beholder has a miler pedigree.

It's tough to chose between Dreaming of Julia, Close Hatches and Unlimited Budget. All three have demoralized the competition. Midnight Lucy is an unknown. She's clearly talented but tackles proven stakes winners after her record-breaking win over a souped up track. Pure Fun looks could be a surprise. She's been stuck racing over Polytrack and turf with average results. The best race of her career came over the Churchill dirt and she'll sit off of what could be a hot pace.

Dreaming of Julia ran a monster race last time out, earning her highest speed figure to date, almost ten points higher than her previous race. She may regress slightly off of that figure. Unlimited Budget has improved in every race and also recorded a career best figure in her last. The number jump wasn't as steep. Close Hatches is also improving gradually in every race.

#4 Unlimited Budget (7-2)
#11 Close Hatches (6-1)
#8 Dreaming of Julia (3-1)
#7 Pure Fun (30-1) longshot pick



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Older Comments about 2013 Kentucky Oaks: Pedigrees and Picks...

Palace Malice will get a odds boost.
Close but no cigars. I can't believe Mike Smith did me in!!
Going with the West Coast filly Beholder - how can you pass up 9-1 on the Juvenile Filly champ?
Rose to Gold!!!!!!!!!!!
Close Hatches/Beholder/Unlimited Budget/Dreaming Of Julia
thanks for the compliments! Good Luck everyone!
Changing win pick to Dreaming Of Julia.
Julia all the way for me on national tv at 5 but wish I was there
Wonderful analysis. I would love to see a 4-11 exacta. Pure Fun gets lasix, return to dirt as you point out and a projected fast pace to move into. She could definitely wake up for a slice at a number.
Beholder, Dreaming Of Julia, Unlimited Budget.
Midnight Lucky or Beholder for me.
Midnight Lucky; Pure Fun; Dreaming of Julia; Beholder

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