A full field of 14 including a trio of undefeated fillies will square off in the $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs on Friday.
Last year’s top juvenile filly Echo Zulu (4-1) took the field gate to wire to win the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) and comes into the race perfect in five career starts for trainer Steve Asmussen.
She breaks from the seven post under jockey Joel Rosario, “She drew a great spot,” Asmussen said of her post position. “We’ll see what we can do.”
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The Shug McGaughey trained Kathleen O. (7-2) has won all four of her career outings. She won the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) in her last start. Her 98 Beyer Speed Figure is the top last out number in the field.
Javier Castellano gets the leg up and will break from post 10.
Shahama (15-1) is making her U.S. debut after winning all four of her starts in Dubai. Her last was a victory in the UAE Oaks (G3). She is now trained by Todd Pletcher, who has won this race four times including last year with Malathaat.
Pletcher has two other starters, the 5-2 morning line favorite Nest and 15-1 longshot Goddess of Fire.
Nest has won four of her five career starts and won the Ashland (G1) at Keeneland by 8 ¼ lengths. Goddess of Fire was the runner up in the Gulfstream Park Oaks.
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Secret Oath (6-1) drew the rail for 86-year-old Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. The filly took on the boys in her last outing, running third in the Arkansas Derby (G1).
There is rain in the forecast throughout the day on Friday in Louisville which likely will leave the track sloppy or muddy. The Kentucky Oaks is one of seven stakes on the card. First post is 10:30am ET.
Let’s head out to Churchill Downs for Friday’s featured race of the day:
Churchill Downs Race 11 The Kentucky Oaks Post time 5:51 ET
3 Hidden Connection 15-1
7 Echo Zulu 4-1
4 Nest 5-2
1 Secret Oath 6-1
10 Kathleen O. 7-2
This filly gets the call at a decent price in a wide open renewal of the Oaks. The Bret Calhoun trainee tracked the early pace off the rail and finished gamely to give the undefeated Echo Zulu all she could handle in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), beaten a nose at 9-1. Our top pick came off a 3 ½ month break by winning the Rachel Alexandra (G2) two back. She showed tons of promise last fall, winning the Pocahontas (G3) over the Churchill Downs main track by 9 ¼ lengths in her second career start. She looks primed for a top effort in her third start of her current form cycle and has enough pedigree to handle an off track.
Last year’s champion juvenile filly won her four races by a combined 22 lengths including a romp in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). In her return race in the Fair Grounds Oaks she carved out sensible fractions and was all out to hold off our top pick. She figures to be tighter second off the bench for the Asmussen barn that has won this race twice. She owns solid early and mid pace numbers in a race without a ton of early speed types signed on. She won the Spinaway (G1) last year at Saratoga on a wet track.
The Pletcher trainee is the likely favorite but the 5-2 morning line does not seem to offer much bang for the buck in a deep field. She rolled in the Ashland (G1) at Keeneland by 8 ¼ lengths over a wet fast surface. She won at nine furlongs as a juvenile and her lone loss in five trips came at a one turn mile in her first start against winners. She has made a good appearance here all week and is bred top and bottom to handle a wet track. The main knock is the light price.
Hidden Connection to win at 6-1 or better.
EXACTA: 3 / 1,4,7,10 and 3,7 /1,3,4,7