While many consider the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve to be a wide-open affair, the same cannot be said of the Longines Kentucky Oaks. The historic Grade 1 stakes for 3-year-old fillies has a rather pronounced favorite in Bellafina, who faces a completely different situation than likely Kentucky Derby favorite Omaha Beach. While Omaha Beach will be riding the crest of a wave of six straight winning favorites in the run for the roses, Bellafina will attempt to become the first favorite to capture the Kentucky Oaks since Untapable in 2014.
Longines Kentucky Oaks
Racetrack: Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.
Date: May 3
Distance: 1 1/8 miles
Post Time: 6:12 p.m. ET
Notable winners: Monomoy Girl (2018), Abel Tasman (2017), Untapable (2014), Blind Luck (2010), Rachel Alexandra (2009), Rags to Riches (2007), Ashado (2004), Silverbulletday (1999), Open Mind (1989), Princess Rooney (1983), Davona Dale (1979), Susan’s Girl (1972), Dark Mirage (1968)
First held: 1875
1. Out for a Spin (15-1): Posted a 52-1 shocker in the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland, a key steppingstone to the Oaks. She has the services of jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., which will help her cause. The Ashland was a big step forward for her but you have to wonder if she might regress after that surprisingly good effort. Having the rail in a race with so much speed might also work against her.
JOCKEY: Irad Ortiz Jr. TRAINER: Dallas Stewart
2. Chocolate Kisses (20-1): While Out for a Spin ran shockingly well in the Ashland, Chocolate Kisses turned in a surprisingly poor effort. She was a non-threatening sixth at 4-1 odds, a little more than 10 lengths behind the winner, after a career-best win in the Grade 3 Honeybee Stakes at Oaklawn Park. Hard to picture her running fast enough to catch Bellafina off that last effort, but at least the odds are enticing and she has a late-running style that may come in handy with so much speed in the race.
JOCKEY: Julien Leparoux TRAINER: Mark Casse
3. Lady Apple (20-1): Trainer Steve Asmussen’s daughter of Curlin is on an upswing at the right time. She owns three straight wins, one more impressive than the other, and has Asmussen’s go-to guy in jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. She belongs in the exotics at the very least after a sharp win in the Grade 3 Fantasy Stakes, which was also her first stakes win. Most likely it will not be her last.
JOCKEY: Ricardo Santana Jr. TRAINER: Steve Asmussen
4. Bellafina (2-1): The morning-line favorite has done very little wrong in an eight-race career. She’s been dominant at 3, winning her three Santa Anita prep races by a combined 14 ½ lengths. There are some causes for concern, though. Her only weak effort came at Churchill Downs when she was bumped at the start and finished fourth in the Tito’s Handmade Vodka Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, 9 ¼ lengths behind Jaywalk. The other is the prospect of a fast pace that will test her ability to sit comfortably off what could turn out to be brutal fractions.
JOCKEY: Flavien Prat TRAINER: Simon Callaghan
5. Flor de La Mar (20-1): While trainer Bob Baffert has been a dominant force in the Kentucky Derby, winning the run for the roses five times, he has “only” three Oaks winners to his credit. This filly is inexperienced, with only three starts, but was second behind Bellafina last time out in the Santa Anita Oaks. A sharp gate work since then indicates the Godolphin filly might be poised for a solid effort.
JOCKEY: Joel Rosario TRAINER: Bob Baffert
6. Positive Spirit (30-1): Odds are tempting on a daughter of Pioneerof the Nile who took a big step forward in her last start. Beaten 25 lengths in the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra in her 2019 debut, she was a much-improved second in the Grade 2 Gazelle and might be rounding back into her 2-year-old form when she won the Demoiselle by 10 ½ lengths.
JOCKEY: Manny Franco TRAINER: Rodolphe Brisset
7. Jaywalk (8-1): The 2-year-old champion looked, well, like a champ in motoring to a front-running, 5 ½-length victory over this track in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, so we know she loves the surface. She has yet to return to last year’s form but her last race, a third in the Ashland, was a step forward. Her morning-line odds are big improvement over the even-money and 1-5 prices she toted in her two 2019 starts – and losses – so there’s value. How she holds up against a quick pace is the key factor.
JOCKEY: Javier Castellano TRAINER: John Servis
8. Motion Emotion (15-1): This speedster set the early pace but could not hang on and finished second to Lady Apple in the Fantasy and Chocolate Kisses in the Honeybee. The pressure will be greater here and the added sixteenth of a mile doesn’t help.
JOCKEY: Mike Smith TRAINER: Thomas Van Berg
9. Liora (20-1): Another with a fondness for Churchill Downs, plus she won the Grade 2 Golden Rod here over a sloppy racetrack if Mother Nature does not cooperate. She’s winless in three 2019 starts, but with a career mark of one win and two seconds in a trio of Grade 2 stakes at odds of 8-1, 23-1 and 27-1, she’s anything but a tossout.
JOCKEY: Channing Hill TRAINER: Wayne Catalano
10. Champagne Anyone (6-1): Registered a much better performance when she was kept closer to the pace while winning the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks. Unfortunately, that style may not suit her in this spot.
JOCKEY: Chris Landeros TRAINER: Ian Wilkes
11. Jeltrin (15-1): Hasn’t raced since she pulled off a shocking 51-1 upset in the Grade 2 Davona Dale. Recent works have been fine, but can’t see her beating a field this like this in her first start around two turns, even with Luis Saez in the saddle.
JOCKEY: Luis Saez TRAINER: Alexis Delgado
12. Street Band (15-1): She might be getting better at the right time for a talented trainer in Larry Jones, who has captured the Oaks three times. She took a big step forward in jumping from an 8 ¼ length-loss in the Rachel Alexandra to a 3 ¾-length win in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks. Jockey Sophie Doyle will try to join two-time winner Rosie Napravnik and become the second woman to win the Oaks. Keep in mind, Napravnik’s first Oaks win came aboard a filly trained by Jones, so there’s precedence.
JOCKEY: Sophie Doyle TRAINER: Larry Jones
13. Serengeti Express (8-1): She was a huge 3-10 favorite in the Fair Grounds Oaks but bled during the race and wound up last. She has scoped clean and worked great since then, so she may be fine on that level. The problem may be that when she has things her own way she’s a monster. Her four wins have all been by four lengths or more and two were by more than 13 lengths. We’ll have to see if she can slug it out and still be around at the end here.
JOCKEY: Jose Ortiz TRAINER: Tom Amoss
14. Restless Rider (6-1): The draw was not kind to her but it may not be a huge detriment given her running style and the abundance of speed in the race. She was second to Liora in the Golden Rod Stakes, so a wet track will not be a problem for this filly who should be making a strong charge in the stretch.
JOCKEY: Brian Hernandez Jr. TRAINER: Kenny McPeek
Also Eligible- 15. Dunbar Road (5-1): Having just two career starts worked against her as she failed to rack up enough points to land a spot in the field of 14. She’ll be the first one in if there’s a scratch and she can’t be discounted if that happens. She’s coming off a good second in the Gulfstream Park Oaks but the post could be a major problem for her as she usually runs near the lead and could be carried wide here.
JOCKEY: Jose Ortiz TRAINER: Chad Brown
Also Eligible- 16. Point of Honor (20-1): The other runner on the also-eligible list will need two scratches and she also has some ability as she was beaten by only two lengths in the Gulfstream Park Oaks.
JOCKEY: John Velazquez TRAINER: George Weaver
THE PICK: Lady Apple
LIVE LONGSHOT: At 20-1, it’s also Lady Apple