Making Money Betting the Favorite in Kentucky Oaks

Gambling
Malathaat trains at Churchill Downs on April 26 in advance of a start in the Kentucky Oaks on April 30. (Eclipse Sportswire)

At first glance, Friday’s $1.25 million, Grade 1 Longines Kentucky Oaks appears to be an absolutely wide-open event. Held over 1 1/8 miles at Churchill Downs, the historic race for 3-year-old fillies has drawn a full field of 14, with many bringing elite credentials to the table.

weekend Television schedule

Wednesday, April 28: 12:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. ET on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Thursday, April 29: 12:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. ET on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Friday, April 30: 12 p.m.-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN; 12 p.m.-5:30 p.m. ET and 8:30 p.m.-9 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Saturday, May 1: 12 p.m.-3 p.m. and 4 p.m.-6:30 p.m. on FS2; 12:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN; 2:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. ET on NBC; post time varies on TVG

Sunday, May 2: 1 p.m.-3 p.m. and 4 p.m.-5:30 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Indeed, seven of the entrants have won graded stakes races, and the other seven have all placed at the graded stakes level. Two prominent fillies bring undefeated résumés to the table, but when it comes to Beyer and Brisnet speed figures, all the contenders appear pretty evenly matched. The most accomplished fillies haven’t run significantly faster than the longshots, so in theory, any horse could emerge victorious.

The key is to predict which filly will step forward and run a career-best race at Churchill Downs. Predicting the future isn’t easy, but it’s a requirement for handicapping horse races, and I’m pretty confident that the morning-line favorite #10 Malathaat (5-2) hasn’t shown us her best yet.

Certainly Malathaat is the most accomplished filly in the Kentucky Oaks field. She’s undefeated in four starts for trainer Todd Pletcher (a three-time winner of the Kentucky Oaks), and she’s the only proven Grade 1 winner in the field, having won the Central Bank Ashland Stakes at Keeneland last month with an eye-catching late rally. A daughter of sensational sire Curlin out of the Grade 1-winning mare Dreaming of Julia, Malathaat is bred to be an elite, long-winded racehorse, and she’s clearly living up to her pedigree.

Malathaat had little difficulty winning her first two starts on the New York circuit last fall, including a gate-to-wire, 7 ¾-length romp in the Tempted Stakes. But it was a considerably less flashy victory in the Grade 2 Demoiselle Stakes that first stamped Malathaat as a potential superstar in the making.

Racing over a sloppy track at Aqueduct, Malathaat seemed to struggle over the unfamiliar footing, steadily losing ground even while under urging inside of rivals. But once Malathaat shifted outside in the homestretch, she somehow managed to find another gear. Despite trailing #14 Millefeuille by 3 ½ lengths in midstretch, Malathaat rallied powerfully to win by three-quarters of a length.

After taking four months off, Malathaat returned to action in the Ashland Stakes, where she produced another sneakily strong performance. The pace of the Ashland was quite slow – :24.26, :48.56, and 1:13.00 for the first two, four, and six furlongs respectively – so Malathaat could have been compromised while racing off the lead in fifth place. But Malathaat casually shrugged off the challenging pace scenario, rocketing the final five-sixteenths of a mile in :29.54 to gain two lengths down the homestretch and prevail by a head over #5 Pass the Champagne.

The slow pace prevented the Ashland from coming back fast on the speed figure scales, but I believe this was a perfect situation for Malathaat’s first run of the season. Rather than produce an all-out effort off the layoff – leading to the risk of regression in the Kentucky Oaks – Malathaat was able to gallop along easily for most of the Ashland before sprinting just three-eighths of a mile or so. With this ideal prep run under her belt, I believe Malathaat will take a step forward in the Kentucky Oaks, especially if she receives a more favorable pace setup.

So if we’re keen to bet Malathaat on top, who should we use for second and third place in wagers like the exacta and trifecta? I strongly recommend #6 Travel Column, a flashy winner of the Grade 2 Twinspires.com Fair Grounds Oaks. The Road to the Kentucky Oaks qualifiers at Fair Grounds have churned out a bevy of Kentucky Oaks winners over the last dozen years or so, and Travel Column is already proven at Churchill Downs, having rallied powerfully to win the Grade 2 Golden Rod Stakes last fall.

Travel Column is versatile in terms of running style, so she has options for working out an ideal trip. Plus, she’s entering off a sharp series of workouts at Churchill Downs for trainer Brad Cox, who has won the Kentucky Oaks twice with Monomoy Girl (2018) and Shedaresthedevil (2020). Both of Cox’s Oaks winners were ridden by Florent Geroux, who will retain the mount on Travel Column this Friday.

#1 Pauline’s Pearl, #3 Clairiere, #4 Crazy Beautiful, #11 Will’s Secret, and #12 Search Results are other logical contenders to finish in the top three. Search Results is the second undefeated filly in the field, and she enters off a flashy win in the Grade 3 Gazelle Stakes at Aqueduct. But the daughter of Flatter is stepping up against tougher competition in the Kentucky Oaks, and it’s hard to gauge how she’ll stack up against her rivals at Churchill Downs.

For our trifectas, we’ll count on Travel Column to finish either second and third. Then we’ll use the five fillies listed above to round out our tickets.

Wagering Strategy on a $10 Budget

$8 to win on #10 Malathaat

What to say at the betting window: Churchill Downs, 11th race, $8 to win on 10

$2 exacta: 10 with 6

What to say at the betting window: Churchill Downs, 11th race, $2 exacta 10 with 6

Wagering Strategy on a $30 Budget

$15 to win on #10 Malathaat

What to say at the betting window: Churchill Downs, 11th race, $15 to win on 10

$5 exacta: 10 with 6

What to say at the betting window: Churchill Downs, 11th race, $5 exacta 10 with 6

$1 trifecta: 10 with 6 with 1,3,4,11,12 ($5)

What to say at the betting window: Churchill Downs, 11th race, $1 trifecta 10 with 6 with 1,3,4,11,12

$1 trifecta: 10 with 1,3,4,11,12 with 6 ($5)

What to say at the betting window: Churchill Downs, 11th race, $1 trifecta 10 with 1,3,4,11,12 with 6

Wagering Strategy on a $50 Budget

$25 to win on #10 Malathaat

What to say at the betting window: Churchill Downs, 11th race, $25 to win on 10

$5 exacta: 10 with 6

What to say at the betting window: Churchill Downs, 11th race, $5 exacta 10 with 6

$2 trifecta: 10 with 6 with 1,3,4,11,12 ($10)

What to say at the betting window: Churchill Downs, 11th race, $2 trifecta 10 with 6 with 1,3,4,11,12

$2 trifecta: 10 with 1,3,4,11,12 with 6 ($10)

What to say at the betting window: Churchill Downs, 11th race, $2 trifecta 10 with 1,3,4,11,12 with 6

Good luck, and enjoy the race!

2021 Longines Kentucky Oaks
April 30th, 2021

Winning Time: 1:48.99
  • Purse: $1,250,000
  • Distance: 1 1/8 Miles
  • Age: 3 yo
  • Surface: Dirt
  • Winning Time: 1:48.99
Results
Win
Place
Show
1st
10 Malathaat
$7.00
$4.60
$3.40
2nd
12 Search Results
$6.80
$5.60
3rd
11 Will's Secret
$9.60
4th
3 Clairiere
5th
6 Travel Column
  • Owner / OXO Equine LLC
  • Breeder / Mr. & Mrs. Bayne Welker Jr. & Denali Stud
6th
14 Millefeuille
  • Owner / Juddmonte
  • Breeder / Juddmonte Farms Inc
7th
2 Maracuja
8th
1 Pauline's Pearl
9th
9 Coach
10th
4 Crazy Beautiful
11th
8 Moraz
13th
13 Competitive Speed
Scratches
Payoff
Pick 3
7-8-10
7-8-10
$160
Pick 4
2-7-8-7/10
2-7-8-7/10
$385
Pick 5
2-2-7-8-7/10
2-2-7-8-7/10
$3,310
Pick 6 Jackpot
6-2-2-7-8-7/10
6-2-2-7-8-7/10
$2,273
Daily Double
8-10
8-10
$18
Exacta
10-12
10-12
$38
Future Wager
EXACTA POOL 1 - 9 - 14
EXACTA POOL 1 - 9 - 14
$369
Future Wager
POOL 1 - 9
POOL 1 - 9
$18
Superfecta
10-12-11-3
10-12-11-3
$2,809
Super High Five
10-12-11-3-6
10-12-11-3-6
$6,902
Trifecta
10-12-11
10-12-11
$232
Payoff
Pick 3
7-8-10
7-8-10
$160
Pick 4
2-7-8-7/10
2-7-8-7/10
$385
Pick 5
2-2-7-8-7/10
2-2-7-8-7/10
$3,310
Pick 6 Jackpot
6-2-2-7-8-7/10
6-2-2-7-8-7/10
$2,273
Daily Double
8-10
8-10
$18
Exacta
10-12
10-12
$38
Future Wager
EXACTA POOL 1 - 9 - 14
EXACTA POOL 1 - 9 - 14
$369
Future Wager
POOL 1 - 9
POOL 1 - 9
$18
Superfecta
10-12-11-3
10-12-11-3
$2,809
Super High Five
10-12-11-3-6
10-12-11-3-6
$6,902
Trifecta
10-12-11
10-12-11
$232

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