TDN Kentucky Oaks Top 10 for Feb. 8

Just F Y I | Benoit

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Churchill Downs' ban of Bob Baffert and the decision by his owners to keep their horses with the trainer, even though that means they cannot run at Churchill, will affect not just the Derby. Though Baffert's group of 3-year-old fillies is not as deep or as impressive as his collection of 3-year-old colts, he does have some fillies that, in a normal year, would be Oaks candidates. He has GII Starlet S. winner Nothing Like You (Malibu Moon). But his best filly may be Kinza (Carpe Diem), who rocketed to a 7 1/2-length win in her debut, earning a 96 Beyer figure. Both Baffert fillies were entered in the GIII Las Virgenes S., which has been rescheduled due to the rains in California. It is now set to be run this Saturday.

Here's a look at the second installment of our Kentucky Oaks Top 10:

1) JUST F Y I (f, Justify–Star Act, by Street Cry {Ire}) O/B-George Krikorian (Ky); T-Bill Mott. Lifetime Record: GISW, 3-3-0-0, $1,317,750. Last start: WON Nov. 3 GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Kentucky Oaks Points: 40. Next Start: GII Davona Dale S., GP, Mar. 2.

It's well known that winners of the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile have had a difficult time winning the Kentucky Derby. It's happened only twice in the 40 years that the Breeders' Cup has been around. The record of GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winners in the GI Kentucky Oaks is just as bad. Only two have turned the trick–1999 Oaks winner Silverbulletday and 1989 Oaks winner Open Mind. Can Just F Y I become the third? That remains to be seen, but she still deserves to be No. 1 in this poll or any similar polls. It looks like she will get an early test as trainer Bill Mott reports that she will make her 3-year-old debut in the GII Davona Dale S. Mar. 2 at Gulfstream. She didn't exactly blow away the competition last year, but her win in the Juvenile Fillies showed that she was the best of her division.

2) CANDIED (f, Candy Ride {Arg}–Toni Tools, by Roaring Fever) O-Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners; B-Buck Pond Farm, Inc. (Ky); T-Todd A Pletcher. Sales history: $165,000 yrl '22 FTJUL. Lifetime Record: GISW, 3-2-0-1, $595,800. Last start: 3rd Nov. 3 GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Filles. Kentucky Oaks Points: 19. Next Start: TBD.

Sold for the bargain price of $165,000 at Fasig-Tipton July, GI Alcibiades winner Candied just missed in the Juvenile Fillies, finishing third, beaten just three quarters of a length. It looks like trainer Todd Pletcher may have to play a game of catch-up with her as, through Wednesday, her only published workout was a three-furlong breeze on Feb. 2 in which she went in :39.73 at Palm Beach Downs. Owner Aron Wellman explained the strategy, which will likely include just one prep for the Oaks. “We wanted to freshen her up after the Breeders' Cup,” Wellman said. “It was a huge performance and she was unlucky not to win it. In her work, she went an easy three-eighths by herself and that should move her forward. She doesn't necessarily need two preps to get ready. She tends to get herself fit pretty quickly.”

3) JODY'S PRIDE (f, American Pharoah–Jody's Song, by Scat Daddy) O-Parkland Thoroughbreds & Sportsmen Stable; B-Mr. Steve Weston (Ky); T-Jorge R Abreu. Lifetime Record: SW & GISP, 3-2-1-0, $480,250. Last start: 2nd Nov. 3 GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Kentucky Oaks Points: 15. Next Start: GII Davona Dale S., GP, Mar. 2.

Trainer Jorge Abreu has confirmed to the Daily Racing Form that his Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies runner-up will make her 2024 debut in the Davona Dale, which would produce a rematch of the first two across the wire in the Juvenile Fillies. He told the DRF that one of the reasons he chose the Davona Dale is that he has lined up Irad Ortiz, Jr. for the mount. So far as Jody's Pride's run in the Juvenile Fillies, here is what Abreu had to tell the DRF: “Great effort, especially going from six furlongs to two turns. It didn't faze her at all, needed one more jump.” Interesting that the connections originally wanted to turn her into a turf horse, which makes sense since she is by American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile). Her first two races, a Saratoga maiden and the Matron S., were washed off the turf. She won both before her solid effort in the Breeders' Cup.

4) INTRICATE (f, Gun Runner–Complex Analysis, by Distorted Humor) O-Bradley Thoroughbreds, Laura Leigh Stable, Scot Estes & Cambron Equine, LLC; B-LBD Stable, LLC (Ky); T-Brendan Walsh. Sales history: $200,000 yrl '22 KEESEP; $280,000 2yo '23 OBSAPR. Lifetime Record: GSW, 3-2-0-0, $302,180. Last start: WON Nov. 25 GII Golden Rod S. Kentucky Oaks Points: 10. Next Start: GII Rachel Alexandra S., FG, Feb. 17.

If you believe in the Beyer figures, this may be the horse for you. She earned an 85 when winning the GII Golden Rod S. at Churchill. That's better than Just F Y I, whose career best was the 79 she ran winning the Juvenile Fillies. It looks like trainer Brendan Walsh is starting to turn the screws on her as her Feb. 3 workout, five furlongs in 1:00.20 at the Fair Grounds, was her best so far this year. Walsh has her on the same path that he had 2023 Oaks winner Pretty Mischievous (Into Mischief) on, the GII Rachel Alexandra S. followed by the GII Fair Grounds Oaks. The last trainer to win back-to-back runnings of the Kentucky Oaks is Wayne Lukas, who won in 1989 with Open Mind and in 1990 with Seaside Attraction.

5) KOPION (f, Omaha Beach—Galloping Ami, by Victory Gallop) O-Spendthrift Farm; B-Tall Oaks Farm (Ky); T-Richard Mandella. Sales history: $270,000 yrl '22 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: GSW, 2-2-0-0, $96,600. Last Start: WON Jan. 7 GIII Santa Ynez S. Kentucky Oaks Points: 10. Next Start: GIII Las Virgenes S., SA, Feb. 10.

She has had to wait a week, but Kopion will get the biggest test of her career when she goes in Saturday's rescheduled Las Virgenes S. She's coming off a win in the GIII Santa Ynez S., in which she scored a 5 3/4-length wire-to-wire win. She still has to prove she can win when stretching out and around two turns. But if she can carry speed for nine furlongs she will be very dangerous. She is a half-sister to Ami's Flatter (Flatter), the Canadian champion 3-year-old male in 2016. Has been so highly regarded by the bettors that she went off at 3-10 when winning her debut and at 1-5 in the Santa Ynez.

6) LIFE TALK (f, Gun Runner–Touchy Feely, by Bernardini) O-Repole Stable; B-Gun Runner Syndicate, Mulholland Springs, LLC & Tom Grether Farms, Inc. (Ky); T-Todd A Pletcher. Sales history: $160,000 wnlg '21 KEENOV; $335,000 yrl '22 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: GSW & GISP, 5-2-1-1, $364,250. Last start: WON Dec. 2 GII Demoiselle S. Kentucky Oaks Points: 19. Next Start: Suncoast S., Tam, Feb. 10.

Will owner Mike Repole win a Kentucky Oaks before he wins a Kentucky Derby? Life Talk could make that possible. We'll know more after this weekend's Suncoast S. at Tampa Bay Downs, a race that Pletcher often points for with 3-year-old fillies making their first start of the year. It doesn't appear that the competition will be that stiff, so expect this filly to kick off her 3-year-old season with a win. She didn't show a lot when third in the Frizette and fourth in the Juvenile Fillies, but a different horse showed up for the GII Demoiselle at Aqueduct. Sent off at even-money, she led every step of the way on her way to a 3 3/4-length win.

7) LESLIE'S ROSE (f, Into Mischief–Wildwood Rose {Ire}, by Galileo {Ire}) 'TDN Rising Star' O-Whisper Hill Farm; B-John D. Gunther & Eurowest Bloodstock Services (Ky); T-Todd Pletcher. Sales history: $1,150,000 yrl '22 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: 2-2-0-0, $89,950. Last start: WON Jan. 11 AOC at Gulfstream Park. Kentucky Oaks Points: 0. Next Start: GII Davona Dale S., GP, Mar. 2.

Say this much about Mandy Pope, she's not afraid to spend her money in search of a good horse. Leslie's Rose was a $1,150,000 purchase at Keeneland September. She's earned just $89,950, but there's little doubt that the best has yet to come. She's 2-for-2 with her last win coming in a seven-furlong allowance at Gulfstream. Slated to go next in the Davona Dale, that race will give her the chance to prove that she is an upper echelon filly. She's had five half-mile works since mid-December.

8) ALPINE PRINCESS (f, Classic Empire–Le Moine, by Curlin) O-Full of Run Racing, LLC & Madaket Stable LLC; B-Betz/DJ Stable/Peter Lamantia/Classic Empire Syndicate (Ky); T-Brad Cox. Sales history: $190,000 yrl '22 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: SW, 5-3-0-1, $210,810. Last Start: WON Dec. 23 Untapable S. Kentucky Oaks Points: 10. Next Start: TBD.

The Brad Cox-trained filly is coming off a win in the Untapable S., which has turned into a key race. Runner-up West Omaha (West Coast) went on to win the Silverbulletday S. and fifth-place finisher Band of Gold (Preservationist) won last Saturday's Martha Washington S. at Oaklawn Park. She was beaten 28 1/4 lengths in the Alcibiades after acting up at the gate. Since then, she's been perfect, winning an allowance and the Untapable. Florent Geroux is the rider. He and Cox have teamed up to win the 2020 Oaks with Shedaresthedevil (Daredevil) and the 2018 Oaks with Monomoy Girl (Tapizar).

9) WEST OMAHA (f, West Coast–Birthday Bash, by Medaglia d'Oro) O/B-Gary & Mary West Stables (Ky); T-Brad Cox. Lifetime Record: SW, 4-2-2-0, $203,000. Last start: WON Jan. 20 Sillverbulletday S. Kentucky Oaks Points: 25. Next Start: GII Rachel Alexandra S, FG, Feb. 17 or GIII Honeybee S., OP, Feb. 24.

She won the Silverbulletday, but will still have to answer some questions as the field for that race came up light. She was the 9-10 favorite. Cox will surely try to keep her and Alpine Princess apart, choosing between the Oaklawn and Fair Grounds routes to the Oaks. Cox also has Busanda S, winner Gin Gin (Hightail), who will take the New York-route to the Oaks. West Omaha will try to give owner-breeder Gary and Mary West their first Oaks win.

10) BAND OF GOLD (f, Preservationist–Play for Gold by Cairo Prince) O-Dixiana Farms LLC; B-Brereton C. Jones (Ky); T-Kenneth G. McPeek. Sales history: $70,000 wnlg '21 KEENOV. Lifetime Record: SW, 3-2-2-0, $206,000. Last start: WON Feb. 3 Martha Washington S. Kentucky Oaks Points: 20. Next Start: GIII Honeybee S., OP, Feb. 24.

The only newcomer to the list this week, she scored an upset win in the Martha Washington at odds of 24-1. Just a $70,000 purchase at Keeneland September, she rebounded off a poor effort in the Untapable where she was fifth. “In the Untapable, she never really figured out what she was supposed to do out there,” trainer Ken McPeek said. She got an 86 Beyer in the Martha Washingon. Will need to improve to take the next step, but trainer McPeek is never afraid of a challenge.

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