Betting the Kentucky Oaks on a $20 Budget


Sugar Shock, above training at Churchill Downs, could be the one to defeat heavily favored Untapable in the Kentucky Oaks on Friday. (Photo by Eclipse Sportswire)

The Kentucky Oaks is the sister race to the Kentucky Derby. The Oaks is restricted to 3-year-old fillies each of whom will carry 121 pounds for the 1 1/8-mile race on the Churchill Downs main track.

The winner will be adorned with a garland of lilies, perfectly nicknamed “Lilies for the Fillies”. Click here to read more about the significance and history behind the use of lilies in the Kentucky Oaks.

Untapable, the 4-to-5 morning-line favorite, will break from post position 13; only one other filly (Lemons Forever in 2006) won from the outside post since Churchill Downs began using the starting gate in 1930.

Untapable’s jockey, Rosie Napravnik, won the race in 2012 aboard Believe You Can. The duo has won four races together out of Untapable’s six-race career (including two wins in as many starts at Churchill). She is a logical favorite, but the big question is whether or not Untapable will become the second horse to win from the outside post? As the overwhelming favorite here, I'm betting against it!

Last year during the Breeders’ Cup, my fellow ambassador Hallie Hardy and I fell a bit in love with Ria Antonia – she was absolutely stunning during morning workouts (not to mention the fact that she went on to win the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies via the disqualification of She’s a Tiger and won me some money). I’ve seen a nice improvement in her since moving over to two-time Kentucky Oaks-winning trainer Bob Baffert. Her jockey, Mike Smith, won the Oaks last year aboard Princess of Sylmar. She’s picking up blinkers, has three nice workouts (two of them bullet workouts) and I believe she has a good shot at a price to be in the mix at the end.

Sugar Shock is a one horse I’m afraid to leave out of the mix. She’s riding a 4-race winning streak (she was disqualified in the Grade 3 Honeybee) and her jockey, Calvin H. Borel, is no stranger to Churchill. Although she had to fight for her last two wins, she showed incredibly heart and determination. I can see her fighting for lead from the inside in this race and at 10-to-1 or better, and I plan to use her on my exotics.

Rosalind raced huge in her last race at Keeneland Race Course in the Grade 1 Central Bank Ashland Stakes, in which she was the dead-heat winner with Room Service. After being left at gate in last year’s Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Fillies, she closed like a rocket to finish third by a half-length. She’s is in capable hands with Kentucky-based trainer Kenny McPeek, but I’m just not totally convinced that her win on the synthetic Polytrack surface will transfer over to the Churchill Downs dirt main track. 

Fashion Plate is undefeated on dirt (3-for-3). The aptly named filly is the only one in this field to have two Grade 1 wins in her career. She has the services of Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, who has two career Oaks wins to go with his three Derby wins. Her speed figures may be a little light compared with the top 2 or 3, but she’s eligible to move forward … and maybe into winner's circle if all goes her way.


Photo by Eclipse Sportswire

My Miss Sophia, trained by Todd Pletcher (who actually got his big break after Ashado won the 2004 Oaks) and ridden by jockey Javier Castellano, has done no wrong in her three, solid career races, with her last impressive win by 7 ¼ lengths in the Grade 2 Gazelle Stakes. An outside post (11) and plenty of speed inside her (and most likely a short price) make her a contender

After running second to Untapable and My Miss Sophia in her last two wins out, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Got Lucky improve in the Kentucky Oaks. It’s hard not to throw in the Eclipse Award-winning combo of jockey Johnny Velazquez and trainer Todd Pletcher at a big price to make an exacta or trifecta. Plus, she has impeccable breeding for the distance.

Vic’s Picks:

Top Selections: #3 Sugar Shock, #7 Fashion Plate, #12 Got Lucky, #2 Ria Antonia, #13 Untapable

Three strategies for you to spend your $20

Strategy A: $10 win on 3 and $10 win on 7

Strategy B: $2 exacta 3,7 with 2,3,7,11,12 ($16) and $2 exacta 13 with 3,7 ($4)

Strategy C: $1 trifecta 3,7 with 2,3,7,12 with 2,3,4,7,11,12 ($18) and $1 trifecta 13 with 3,7 with 3,7 ($2) 

$1-million Longines Kentucky Oaks

Friday, Churchill Downs, Race 11, Post Time 5:49 p.m. ET

1 1/8 miles, 3-year-old fillies






Please Explain 

Jose Lezcano 

Thomas F. Proctor

Ria Antonia 

Mike E. Smith 

Bob Baffert

Sugar Shock 

Calvin H. Borel 

Doug L. Anderson


Joel Rosario 

Kenneth G. McPeek


Thank You Marylou 

Julien R. Leparoux 

Michael J. Maker

Kiss Moon 

Victor Espinoza 

David R. Vance

Fashion Plate 

Gary L. Stevens 

Simon Callaghan

Aurelia's Belle 

Channing Hill 

Wayne M. Catalano

Unbridled Forever 

Robby Albarado 

Dallas Stewart


Empress of Midway 

Corey S. Nakatani 

Doug F. O'Neill


My Miss Sophia 

Javier Castellano 

Todd A. Pletcher


Got Lucky 

John R. Velazquez 

Todd A. Pletcher



Rosie Napravnik 

Steven M. Asmussen



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