Chad Brown Holds Strong Hand in American Oaks
The final Grade 1 race of 2017 is the $300,000 American Oaks at Santa Anita, a 1 ¼-mile turf event for three-year-old fillies that has attracted a quality field of ten starters.In recent years, horses shipping in from out of state have enjoyed strong success in California’s major turf stakes races, and no trainer has dominated turf racing across the country more thoroughly than . In the American Oaks, Brown has entered a pair of graded stakes-winning fillies, and not surprisingly they look like the horses to beat on paper.
The most accomplished of the two is #9 New Money Honey, winner of the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. I) at Santa Anita and the 2017 Belmont Oaks (gr. I) at Belmont Park, with the latter race being held at the same 1 ¼-mile distance as the American Oaks. The versatile daughter of Medaglia d’Oro has successfully employed a few different running styles and can be positioned almost anywhere on the track, and while her last two runs have been disappointing, excuses can be made for those defeats. Her fifth-place finish in the Alabama Stakes (gr. I) is forgivable since she was trying dirt for the first time, and her subsequent sixth-place finish in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (gr. I)—though tougher to ignore at first glance—might be excused since the race was at Keeneland, a track that New Money Honey doesn’t seem to care for.
That said, my preference is for New Money Honey’s stablemate #8 Rymska. The French-bred filly is 3-for-3 this year, having won the Sweetest Chant Stakes (gr. III) back in February before returning from a lengthy layoff to win the Commonwealth Oaks (gr. III) and the Winter Memories Stakes this fall.
Although Rymska has yet to run farther than nine furlongs, she has an explosive late kick that is effective regardless of whether the early pace is fast or slow. In the Commonwealth Oaks, Rymska settled behind solid early fractions of :47.38 and 1:11.43, then swallowed the field while running the final three furlongs in about :34.40, an exceptional time. She was even more impressive in the Winter Memories Stakes, rating behind slow fractions of :50.97 and 1:15.99 over a “good” turf course before flying through the final five-sixteenths of a mile in about :28.60 to win going away.
The extra distance is an obvious question mark, but I think Rymska is the most likely winner of the American Oaks. I’ll box her in the exacta with New Money Honey while adding the talented Dueling Grounds Oaks winner #4 Daddys Lil Darling underneath on a smaller exacta.
$10 exacta: 8,9 with 8,9 ($20) $5 exacta: 8,9 with 4 ($10)