This year’s Kentucky Oaks is being billed as a match race between two super talented fillies – Gamine and Swiss Skydiver. Is it really that simple? Peter T Fornatale takes a look at the field from the rail out.
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Comes to this after smashing up the field in the Alabama at Saratoga at 10 furlongs. She’s looked fantastic but this is not the ideal draw for her. On pace figures she could try to make the lead but that is going to be tricky with Gamine drawn to her outside. Her best bet might be to let Gamine go on with it and try to get outside and hope that speedy rival doesn’t stay. But to do that is also to risk letting Gamine have her way on the front end. I don’t envy them this choice honestly as it could end up being a “damned if they do, damned if they don’t.” All that said on talent alone she’s a major contender. They could end up running 1-2 around the track. But there are scenarios where Swiss doesn’t hit the exacta because of the tricky race design.
This filly is a massive longshot to win on figures and form, which are well behind the best of these. Those building a case will point to trainer Dallas Stewart’s success in getting big prices to hit the board in big races and this is no accident – he trains his charges to really finish their races in a way that few others do. Looking at late sectionals, Tempers Rising hasn’t done enough to date to trouble this group in the late stages and she figures to be far back early. Third or fourth would be her ceiling if everything falls correctly and even that feels like a stretch honestly – this is a talented group.
She has always looked like one who would thrive on the cutback to me. That hasn’t happened yet as she’s done well enough going longer. She comes here off a six-month break, but even if you build in speed figure points for that she is still behind the best of these. Look for her later in the year on the reduction in trip.
I think this filly is super-interesting! An improving sort who appeared to turn the corner in the Ashland. There is no doubt that she had an easy trip but she ran a great time and finished up her race well. Horses like this, even at this later stage in their three-year-old year, can often continue to improve. If she does, she can win, even with the strength of the two at the top of the market. She would be very well served if Swiss Skydiver tries to take the race to Gamine early. In that instance she’ll likely get a fantastic trip, moving on the turn and potentially taking over. I definitely like her chances to run second to one of the big two, probably Gamine given how the race is likely to pan out. I could see keying my wagering action around her. At 6-1, she looks at excellent each-way play.
Has simply been a beast in her four starts. She’s unbeaten, and largely untested – though it certainly is notable that Speech gave her a race in the allowance win at Oaklawn, before either of them turned the corner. She’s been imperious in victory that last two races, both Grade 1s. She’s gives the impression that she could rate if needed and that she’ll stay, though those are both just suppositions at this stage. The former might not be necessary, the latter will prove crucial – Speech was getting to her going the 1 1/16th miles and this is obviously farther. She’s a likely winner and 8-11 to me isn’t bad (would rather back it than lay it if those were the only choices) but it kinda just looks like the price. And she could be shorter on the day.
She got a setup in the Indiana Oaks and only managed third. That kind of form isn’t going to get anything against this group. Her closing sectionals do not inspire. Can’t blame connections for taking a shot but would be a big surprise to see this one in the frame.
She won the aforementioned Indiana Oaks and did so running some swift internal times. The water gets much steeper here and I’m not sure what kind of trip she’s going to get – I think if she tries to run with the top ones early it could be a long afternoon. On talent, could run third if held up and everything were to fall her way.
Rebounded last time at Monmouth and looks a nice filly who should have some more listed stakes and Grade 3 type races on her page before it’s all said and done. Tough to see her stepping up against these in a true Grade 1 like this.
This is another late runner and can be considered for third, fourth or fifth on that basis but the closing sectionals just don’t match up well, especially when you consider how far back she’ll likely be early on.
PETER T FORNATALE'S VERDICT
It really looks like the top three in the market should fill out the top three spots. From a value point of view, SPEECH makes the most sense. She’s close on form already with Gamine and could get a fantastic trip. I really like her chances to finish in the top two. Wagering options include keeping it simple and betting her each-way (I do think she can win) and you could also mess around with forecasts instead of or in addition to the each-way. You could just bet Speech to win and play 5x as much in the forecast with Gamine over Speech and then 1x with Swiss Skydiver.