The only Grade 1 winner in the Kentucky Oaks field is the 5-2 morning-line favorite, Malathaat. Her lone victory at 1 1/8-miles came in the Demoiselle Stakes (G2) to end her 2-year-old season. To me, the race is even more impressive on film. She was close to the pace early down on the inside. You can see jockey John Velazquez trying to get her attention because she started to drop back. I’m not sure what happened, but she definitely lost focus and also got in some tight quarters on the far turn. When she got her mind on running, she grinded away with her long, beautiful strides. She should have gotten beat, but she didn’t.
Four months later, Malathaat made her 3-year-old debut in the Central Bank Ashland Stakes (G1). My concerns going into that race were the layoff, the distance, and the short stretch at Keeneland. Joel Rosario asked her just before the far turn, but Pass the Champagne had a sizeable jump on her. She found her best stride late in a perfectly timed ride. She’s tactical, talented, well drawn, wants nine furlongs and overcame circumstances that weren’t ideal in her last two races. Of the top three favorites, I prefer Malathaat.
Pass the Champagne made her stakes debut in the Ashland and showed she can compete at this level. I think Javier Castellano learned something about her too. I feel like he found out that she has some good acceleration, and when you ask her to use it, she responds instantly.
Travel Column exits a win off a perfect trip in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2). She’s never been worse than third in five career starts and will be close to the pace with not much speed. Can she get an additional 110 yards and hold of the closers?
One closer Travel Column is familiar with is Clairiere. She’s similar to Malathaat (also both daughters of Curlin) in that I know they both want nine furlongs. Clairiere had no pace to run into in her last start and has never been worse than second. Even though there doesn’t appear to be a fast pace on paper, it will be honest enough with the added ground playing to her strength.
I was on-site at Gulfstream for the Davona Dale (G2) when Millefeuille made her 3-year-old debut. Reading between the lines in the pre-race interview, I did not interpret the most confidence. She ran poorly and didn’t get much out of that race. She didn’t lose by much to Malathaat as a 2-year-old and has every right to step forward once again off her second place finish in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2).
If you’re playing multi-race wagers, I would go four deep. In order of preference: #10 Malathaat, #3 Clairiere, #5 Pass the Champagne, #6 Travel Column.
If you’re playing exactas, trifectas and superfectas, some longshots I would add underneath would be #1 Pauline’s Pearl (20-1ML), #8 Moraz (30-1) and #14 Millefeuille (20-1).
Good luck and enjoy the Kentucky Oaks!
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