Large Field Assembles for Wide-Open Gulfstream Park Oaks
Saturday’s $300,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park has certainly taken on a different complexion than was originally expected.The 8.5-furlong Kentucky Oaks prep race was supposed to be the goal for Fly So High, impressive winner of the Davona Dale Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream last month. But with Fly So High sidelined by a minor injury, the Gulfstream Park Oaks has been left without a clear favorite, and as a result thirteen fillies have been entered to contend for the 170 Kentucky Oaks qualification points that will be split among the top four finishers.
One of the main contenders looking to take charge of the race is, well, Take Charge Paula. The consistent Kiaran McLaughlin-trained filly already has four stakes wins under her belt, including a clear-cut triumph in the Forward Gal Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream, but she’s not a shoo-in to prevail on Saturday. After all, Take Charge Paula has yet to win beyond seven furlongs, though she did finish second in the Davona Dale going a one-turn mile.
Heavenhasmynikki, Cache, and Alter Moon—third, fifth, and sixth in the Davona Dale—will be back for a rematch with Take Charge Paula, though they’re likely to be longer shots in this competitive field. Another filly that could offer a bit of a price is Blonde Bomber; she finished fourth and fifth in her first two starts this year, but has cracked the trifecta in five of her six starts at Gulfstream and ran third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) last fall. Daisy, winner of the Tempted Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct last fall, will also be looking to rebound following a runner-up effort in the Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs last month.
Eight Thirtyone and Silver Bay both bring perfect 2-for-2 records into the Gulfstream Park Oaks, with Eight Thirtyone winning maiden and allowance events at Mahoning Valley while Silver Bay achieved her success at Gulfstream Park West, where she won the Juvenile Fillies Sprint Stakes in November. Both will be stretching out to a route distance for the first time.
Rounding out the field are C. S. Incharge, winner of the Suncoast Stakes; Coach Rocks, an eight-length maiden winner at Gulfstream last time out; Princess Warrior, second in the Alcibiades Stakes (gr. I) last fall; Mihrab, third in the Suncoast; and the maiden Tell Your Mama.
Projected post time for the Gulfstream Park Oaks is 5:22 p.m. Eastern.