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Close Hatches enters the Kentucky Oaks off a dominant win in the Gazelle Stakes on April 6. (Photo courtesy of David Alcosser/NYRA)

Without question, this is one of the deepest Kentucky Oaks fields ever assembled. Even with the scratch of Flashy Gray late Wednesday, this is an impressive group of 10 fillies.

The morning-line favorite is Dreaming of Julia, a regally bred daughter of A. P. Indy out of the multiple Grade 1-winning mare Dream Rush. “Julia” has never been off the board in her six-race career and her last race was a monster 21-1/4-length win in the Gulfstream Park Oaks.

The beautiful bay heads a four-horse contingent for Todd Pletcher that includes longshots Silsita and Princess of Sylmar as well as the unbeaten Unlimited Budget. The latter, a $425,000 auction buy last year, has proven adept at overcoming trouble in all four of her races.

Headlining the Southern California contingent is Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Beholder. The reigning champion 2-year-old filly and half-sister to Grade 1 winner (and popular stallion) Into Mischief, Beholder's lone bad race was her debut. If there is a question about her ability, it's in the distance: her pedigree suggests sprinter, but there's no way to measure the heart of a champion.

Also on the plane from SoCal is Midnight Lucky, a lightly raced gray conditioned by Bob Baffert. Known as “The Freak” around the barn, the daughter of Midnight Lute has won her two starts by a combined margin of 15 ¼ lengths and has trained exceptionally well on the Churchill Downs oval.

Another who has caught the eye in the mornings is Close Hatches, now the lone Bill Mott entrant. From the first crop of Juddmonte stallion First Defence, the undefeated dark bay has galloped tremendously and appears to be thriving.

Of the local longshots, Rose to Gold has made the best impression; also in the field is Seaneen Girl and Pure Fun.

My Selections:

Close Hatches

Unlimited Budget

Midnight Lucky

Dreaming of Julia

$1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks

Churchill Downs, Friday, 5:45 p.m. ET

3-year-old fillies, 1 1/8 miles (dirt)

PP

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

Odds

1

Silsita

Gary Stevens

Todd Pletcher

20-1

2

Midnight Lucky

Rafael Bejarano

Bob Baffert

9-2

3

Beholder

Garrett Gomez

Richard Mandella

7-2

4

Unlimited Budget

Javier Castellano

Todd Pletcher

7-2

5

Seaneen Girl

Rosie Napravnik

Bernard Flint

20-1

6

Princess of Sylmar

Mike Smith

Todd Pletcher

20-1

7

Pure Fun

Julien Leparoux

Ken McPeek

30-1

8

Dreaming of Julia

John Velazquez

Todd Pletcher

3-1

9

Rose to Gold

Calvin Borel

Sal Santoro

15-1

10

Flashy Gray

Junior Alvarado

Bill Mott

15-1

11

Close Hatches

Joel Rosario

Bill Mott

6-1

 

Image Description

Molly Jo Rosen

Growing up halfway between Hollywood Park and Del Mar, Molly Jo Rosen spent more time at the "horse beach" than the sandy ones. One ride on a pony named Coco at 18 months old had her hooked, and she spent 15 years as a showjumper before a routine birthday trip to Del Mar came with the realization that racing was the life she wanted.

Since then, Molly Jo has traveled across the country working on the best backstretches, frontstretches and farms in the industry. She has held positions with TVG, Churchill Downs, Three Chimneys Farm, and Puglisi Racing, among others.

Now managing member of the Post Parade Racing ownership group, Molly Jo also runs 2yoSales.com (providing data to leading trainers on the juvenile sales), co-hosts the popular podcast Post Parade with The Filly and The Clocker, and can be heard Sundays on "The Fast Track" on Fox Sports 1340 am.

Molly Jo serves her blend of pony punditry at FocusedFilly.com.

Image Description

Molly Jo Rosen

Growing up halfway between Hollywood Park and Del Mar, Molly Jo Rosen spent more time at the "horse beach" than the sandy ones. One ride on a pony named Coco at 18 months old had her hooked, and she spent 15 years as a showjumper before a routine birthday trip to Del Mar came with the realization that racing was the life she wanted.

Since then, Molly Jo has traveled across the country working on the best backstretches, frontstretches and farms in the industry. She has held positions with TVG, Churchill Downs, Three Chimneys Farm, and Puglisi Racing, among others.

Now managing member of the Post Parade Racing ownership group, Molly Jo also runs 2yoSales.com (providing data to leading trainers on the juvenile sales), co-hosts the popular podcast Post Parade with The Filly and The Clocker, and can be heard Sundays on "The Fast Track" on Fox Sports 1340 am.

Molly Jo serves her blend of pony punditry at FocusedFilly.com.

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