Without Unique Bella, Kentucky Oaks is Wide Open
Jerry Hollendorfer has taken Unique Bella out of training due to a shin injury. She was, without a doubt, the top filly in the world before getting hurt. She was so good that it was impossible for me to find a horse that was going to challenge Bella in the Kentucky Oaks. But now that Unique Bella is out, the race appears to be wide-open. See below for my Top 5 going into April
Abel TasmanAbel Tasman wasn't good enough to beat Unique Bella in the Santa Ysabel. With her main rival on the bench, Abel Tasman might have a clear shot to the Kentucky Oaks' winner's circle. She's certainly talented enough to win the race. She doesn't have to stay as far behind the pace like she did in the Santa Ysabel, either. I think she's the real deal.
FarrellHer ability to coast on the lead has already been on display. The way she relaxed in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes was beautiful. Since Unique Bella is out, Farrell could lay close to the lead or right off. She'd be tough to run down allowed to have her way. The one thing that I noticed is that when jockey Channing Hill asked her the question in the stretch, she responded. Sired by Malibu Moon and from an Unbridled's Song mare, Farrell should have the ability to run all day.
ValadornaThe 3/2 favorite in the Rachel Alexandra, Valadorna made a nice move and then flattened out to finish third behind Farrell and Majestic Quality. What I don't like about Valadorna's run in the Rachel Alexandra is that she appears to give up in the stretch. Julien Leparoux kept pushing her, but she didn't respond at all. The Stonestreet Stable, Mark E. Casse trained, daughter of Curlin has all the talent in the world. If her mind is right, she'll be a contender on Oaks Day. If not, she'll burn money like crazy.
New Money HoneyTrainer Chad Brown is going to try and get last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner ready for the Oaks off one prep race. Can he do it? I think he can. She finished second in her first lifetime race last year before winning the Grade 3 Miss Grillo. Then, she took home the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf. Not only that, but her jockey on Oaks Day could end up being Javier Castellano. There are a lot of things to like about New Money Honey's chances in the Kentucky Oaks. This year, there are no monsters in the Oaks. So, why not?
It Tiz WellThe way she won the Honeybee is close to extraordinary. Benner Island had all the momentum going around the turn. Also, jockey Corey Nakatani had to get her head straight a couple of times in the lane while Benner Island appeared to be going past her. It Tiz Well is yet another with a shot at winning the Kentucky Oaks this year. Jerry Hollendorfer trains It Tiz Well just like he trains Unique Bella. The man knows what he's doing with three-year-old fillies. Don't be surprised if she enters the Oaks' starting gate as the favorite.