On a quiet Monday morning, entries for the Kentucky Oaks (G1) were finalized during the much-anticipated post position draw at Churchill Downs.
The 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-old fillies carries a purse of $1.25 million and is scheduled to be run May 3, one day prior to the Kentucky Derby. The race will be shown live on NBCSN as part of a 6 1/2-hour broadcast that kicks off at noon ET.
Fourteen fillies plus two also-eligibles were entered in the Kentucky Oaks, with the speedy and accomplished #4 Bellafina listed as the 2-1 morning line favorite. Trained by Simon Callaghan, the daughter of Quality Road has already recorded six graded stakes victories, including dominant triumphs in the Del Mar Debutante (G1), Chandelier Stakes (G1) and Santa Anita Oaks (G1).
None of Bellafina’s Kentucky Oaks rivals can match her overall achievements, but that’s not to say they can’t challenge for victory. #7 Jaywalk (8-1) defeated Bellafina decisively in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Churchill Downs in November, one of two grade 1 wins Jaywalk recorded during her championship juvenile season. Jaywalk has been beaten in both of her runs this year, but showed improvement when third in the Ashland Stakes (G1) at Keeneland and could be ready for a peak effort in the Oaks.
#1 Out for a Spin (15-1) and #14 Restless Rider (6-1), who finished 1-2 in the Ashland, will be marooned at opposite ends of the starting gate in the Kentucky Oaks. Based strictly off the bare form if the Ashland, you would expect Out for a Spin to start at a shorter price, but Restless Rider didn’t lose by much and is significantly more accomplished overall, with a victory in the Alcibiades Stakes (G1) and a runner-up effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies under her belt.
Another Breeders’ Cup veteran in the Oaks field is the brilliant but inconsistent #13 Serengeti Empress (8-1), who has made a habit of winning by daylight or losing by double-digit lengths, without anything in between. A 19 1/2-length winner of the Pocahontas Stakes (G1) at Churchill Downs during the fall, Serengeti Empress bled and was eased in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) last month, but has bounced back to train sharply and could be a frontrunning danger in the Oaks.
Trainers Larry Jones and Bob Baffert have each won the Kentucky Oaks three times and will be represented this year by longshots with live chances. Jones will send out the improving #12 Street Band, upset winner of the Fair Grounds Oaks, while Baffert will saddle #5 Flor de La Mar, runner-up behind Bellafina in the Santa Anita Oaks.
The complete field for the Kentucky Oaks, along with jockey assignments and morning line odds, is as follows:
|1||Out for a Spin||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||Dallas Stewart||15-1|
|2||Chocolate Kisses||Julien Leparoux||Mark Casse||20-1|
|3||Lady Apple||Ricardo Santana, Jr.||Steve Asmussen||20-1|
|4||Bellafina||Flavien Prat||Simon Callaghan||2-1|
|5||Flor de La Mar||Joel Rosario||Bob Baffert||20-1|
|6||Positive Spirit||Manny Franco||Rodolphe Brisset||30-1|
|7||Jaywalk||Javier Castellano||John Servis||8-1|
|8||Motion Emotion||Mike Smith||Thomas Van Berg||15-1|
|9||Liora||Channing Hill||Wayne Catalano||20-1|
|10||Champagne Anyone||Chris Landeros||Ian Wilkes||6-1|
|11||Jeltrin||Luis Saez||Alexis Delgado||15-1|
|12||Street Band||Sophie Doyle||Larry Jones||15-1|
|13||Serengeti Empress||Jose Ortiz||Tom Amoss||8-1|
|14||Restless Rider||Brian Hernandez, Jr.||Kenny McPeek||6-1|
|AE 15||Dunbar Road||Jose Ortiz||Chad Brown||5-1|
|AE 16||Point of Honor||John Velazquez||George Weaver||30-1|
The Kentucky Oaks is the 11th race of the day Friday, with an approximate post time of 6:12 p.m. ET.