TDN Kentucky Oaks Top 10 For March 5

|

FiniteHodges

Since we were last heard from, Bast (Uncle Mo) has been retired due to a soft tissue injury and Tonalist’s Shape (Tonalist) did it again, staying undefeated with a win in the GII Davona Dale S. at Gulfstream. Also in Florida, Eve of War (Declaration of War) couldn’t get the job done in an allowance after winning her debut for the Todd Pletcher Stable by 7 1/2 lengths. A fourth-place finish likely knocked her off the road to the GI Kentucky Oaks. This coming weekend, the top 3-year-old fillies will be heard from in the Busher Invitational at Aqueduct, the GIII Honeybee S. at Oaklawn and the GIII Santa Ysabel S. at Santa Anita.

1) FINITE (MunningsRemit, by Tapit)

O-Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC, Thomas Reiman, William Dickson & Deborah Easter. B-Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC (KY). T-Steven Asmussen. Sales History: $200,000 2yo ’19 FTMMAY. Lifetime Record: MGSW, 7-5-2-0, $638,349.

Last Start: 1st GII Rachel Alexandra S., FG, Feb. 15

Accomplishments Include: 1st GII Golden Rod S.; 1st Silverbulletday S.; 1st Rags to Riches S.

Next Start: GII Fair Grounds Oaks, FG, Mar. 21

Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 70.

Finite is leading all contenders in terms of Oaks points and is riding a five-race winning streak. That may mean that all trainer Steve Asmussen needs to do to get a winning performance out of his filly on Oaks Day is to get her to maintain her form. In that vain, he doesn’t appear to be doing anything too fancy with her in the mornings. She’s had two works since her win in the GII Rachel Alexandra S., a four-furlong breeze in :51.40 and a five-furlong breeze in 1:01.60.

While Asmussen has yet to win a GI Kentucky Derby, the GI Kentucky Oaks has been good to him. He won the race in 2005 with Summerly (Summer Squall) and in 2014 with Untapable (Tapit).The Oaks was also the last start for Rachel Alexandra (Medaglia d’Oro) before she was purchased by Stonestreet Stables and turned over to Asmussen.

There’s not much left for Finite to prove, including an ability to win at Churchill Downs. With wins in the Rags to Riches and the GII Golden Rod S., she is two-for-two there.

 

2) VENETIAN HARBOR (MunningsSounds of the City, by Street Cry {Ire})

O-Ciaglia Racing LLC, Highland Yard LLC, River Oak Farm & Dominic Savides. B-Colts Neck Stables LLC (KY). T-Richard Baltas. Sales History: $110,000 yrl ’18 KEESEP; $205,000 RNA 2yo ’19 OBSAPR. Lifetime Record: GSW, 3-2-1-0, $163,400.

Last Start: 1st GII Las Virgenes S., SA, Feb. 8

Next Start: GII Santa Anita Oaks, SA, Apr. 4

Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 10.

Since an initial career outing on the turf, Venetian Harbor has been brilliant in her two dirt starts, winning them by a combined 20 lengths. She appears to have the rare ability to go fast early and maintain her cruising speed, which makes her very dangerous. After a series of works at San Luis Rey Downs, trainer Richie Baltas has moved her to Santa Anita. She had a five-furlong work there Friday, going in 1:00.80 (XBTV video).

“She is doing well and has had two works since her last race,” trainer Richie Baltas said via text. “We are looking at the [GII] Santa Anita Oaks, but the [GI] Ashland is also a possibility.”

Some skeptics will no doubt want to see what she can do beyond a mile, the distance of her most recent win in the GII Las Virgenes S.

 

3) BRITISH IDIOM (f, Flashback–Rose and Shine, by Mr. Sekiguchi)

O-Michael Dubb, The Elkstone Group, LLC (Stuart Grant), Madaket Stables LLC & Bethlehem Stables LLC. B-Hargus & Sandra Sexton and Silver Fern Farm LLC (KY). T-Brad Cox. Sales History: $40,000 yrl ’18 FTKOCT. Lifetime Record: Ch. 2yo Filly & MGISW, 4-3-1-0, $1,441,250.

Last Start: 2nd GII Rachel Alexandra S., FG, Feb. 15

Accomplishments Include: 1st GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies; 1st GI Darley Alcibiades S.

Next Start: GII Fair Grounds Oaks, FG, Mar. 21 or GI Ashland S., KEE, Apr. 4

Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 50.

The winner of the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and last year’s juvenile filly champion, British Idiom came into the year on top of this division. That all changed when she was soundly defeated by Finite in the Rachel Alexandra. The question, now, is will she move forward off that race? She will have to in order to defeat not only Finite, but the other stars in this deep division. She returned to the work tab Saturday, breezing four furlongs in :49.

Her next race will be a huge test. She has the class and ability to win the Kentucky Oaks, but must prove that she has developed and improved since her 2-year-old campaign.

Trainer Brad Cox will be seeking his second Kentucky Oaks win. He captured the race in 2018 with eventual champion Monomoy Girl (Tapizar).

 

4) TONALIST’S SHAPE (TonalistHitechnoweenie, by Harlan’s Holiday)

O-Slam Dunk Racing, Doug Branham & Legacy Ranch, Inc.

B-Sabana Farm (KY). T-Saffie Joseph, Jr. Sales History: $45,000 RNA yrl ’18 KEESEP; $60,000 RNA 2yo ’19 OBSAPR. Lifetime Record: MGSW, 5-5-0-0, $309,390.

Last Start: 1st GII Davona Dale S., GP, Feb. 29

Accomplishments: 1st GIII Forward Gal S., GP, Feb. 1

Next Start: GII Gulfstream Park Oaks, GP, March 28

Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 60.

Tonalist’s Shape came into the GII Davona Dale S. with an undefeated record, but had plenty to prove. Her speed figures said she was too slow to become a major player in the division as the races got tougher. She was coming out of a win in the GIII Forward Gal S., where she received a pedestrian Beyer number of 70. That’s the main reason that, despite her record, she was sent off as the 2-1 second choice in the Davona Dale. But Tonalist’s Shape delivered again, winning the Davona Dale by 1 1/4 lengths.

Is Tonalist’s Shape a cut below the best in the division or is she a horse who just does enough to win?

“She knows how to win, that’s the important thing,” trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr., said after the Davona Dale. “She’s not flashy in the morning, but when it comes to race day, she’s so calm. In the barn she can be almost over the top, but on race day she’s calm.”

There is at least one more thing she has to prove as she has never gone around two turns.

 

5) DONNA VELOCE (Uncle Mo–Coin Broker {Ire}, by Montjeu {Ire})

‘TDN Rising Star’ O-Kaleem Shah, S Magnier, M Tabor &

D Smith. B-Coin Broker Syndicate (KY). T-S Callaghan. Sales History: $450,000 yrl ’18 KEESEP; $800,000 2yo ’19 FTFMAR. Lifetime Record: MGISP, 3-1-2-0, $430,000. Last Start: 2nd GI Starlet S., SA, Dec. 7. Accomplishments Include: 2nd

GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Next Start: GIII Santa Ysabel S., SA, Mar. 8.

Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 12.

She is working steadily for her 3-year-old debut, which is expected to come in Sunday’s GIII Santa Ysabel S. at Santa Anita. The most recent move was a five-furlong breeze in 1:00.60 Monday (XBTV video).

She had a solid 2-year-old campaign, but couldn’t quite get over the hump. She was a close second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and then second again in the GI Starlet S. That shows that she can compete with the best, but can she beat the best? With Bast having been retired, the competition in California will be a little easier than it otherwise would have been.

Trainer Simon Callaghan sent out the beaten favorite in last year’s Oaks in Bellafina (Quality Road), who was fifth.

 

6) LAKE AVENUE (TapitSeventh Street, by Street Cry {Ire})

O/B-Godolphin (KY). T-Bill Mott. Lifetime Record: GSW, 3-2-1-0, $191,000.

Last Start: 1st GII Demoiselle S., AQU, Dec. 7

Next Start: Busher Invitational, Aqu, March 7

Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 10.

Trainer Bill Mott likes the New York route to the Kentucky Oaks. Lake Avenue has been shipped out of Florida to New York to take part in Saturday’s Busher Invitational at Aqueduct. She has raced only in New York and her prior two starts were also at Aqueduct.

“From everything I’ve heard she’s continued to progress. It’s exciting because we know she likes the track and surface so we’ll continue to keep her happy,” said Mott’s assistant Leanna Willaford.

Though not a graded race, the Busher offers plenty of Kentucky Oaks points with 50 points going to the winner.

Lake Avenue has already won at a mile-and-an-eighth, which she accomplished in the GII Demoiselle S. She will be turning back to a mile for the Busher.

 

7) HARVEY’S LIL GOIL (American Pharoah–Gloria S, by Tapit)

O-Estate of Harvey A. Clarke & Paul Braverman. B-Harvey A. Clarke (KY). T-Bill Mott. Lifetime Record: SW, 3-2-0-0, $96,600.

Last Start: 1st Busanda S., AQU, Feb. 2

Next Start: GII Gazelle S., AQU, Apr. 4

Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 10.

Another from the Bill Mott stable, Harvey’s Lil Goil was an impressive winner of the Busanda in her last start. She got off to an awkward start before getting to the front and then drew off to win by 7 1/2 lengths. Being that the win came in a wintertime stakes race at Aqueduct, she may not have beaten the best of fields. Neither the second nor third-place finishers have run back since that race.

The biggest plus for Harvey’s Lil Goil is that distance appears to be no problem. She’s already won at a mile-and-an-eighth and Mott is convinced that she is a perfect candidate for the nine-furlong GI Alabama S.

 

8) SPICE IS NICE (CurlinDame Dorothy, by Bernardini)

‘TDN Rising Star’ O-Lawana L. & Robert E. Low. B-B. Flay Thoroughbreds LLC (KY). T-Todd Pletcher. Sales History: $1,050,000 yrl ’18 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: GSP, 2-1-1-0, $64,200.

Last Start: 2nd GII Davona Dale S., GP, Feb. 29

Next Start: To Be Determined

Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 20

She is by Curlin, cost $1.05 million at Keeneland September and broke her maiden at first asking by 12 lengths. For all those reasons, she appeared to have a bright future and was made the 7-10 favorite in the Davona Dale, where she was facing the more accomplished Tonalist’s Shape. She didn’t run poorly in the Davona Dale when second, but didn’t live up to the hype. Considering that it was only her second career start she has a license to improve, and she will need to in order to capture a prize like the Kentucky Oaks.

 

9) MAEDEAN (TapitSummer Solo, by Arch)

O-Courtlandt Farms. B-Payson Stud (KY). T-Mark Hennig.

Sales History: $450,000 yrl ’18 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: SW & GSP, $178,250.

Last Start: 2nd GII Demoiselle S., AQU, Dec. 7

Next Start: Busher Invitational, Aqu, March 7

Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 4.

The only newcomer to this week’s list, she showed a lot of promise last year. She won the Tempted before finishing second behind Lake Avenue in the Demoiselle. That race may be better than it looks as she was sixth early behind very slow fractions (:50.76, 1:15.93) before closing for the place spot. By Tapit out of an Arch mare, distance should be no problem for her.

“Her mother [Summer Solo] was a true mile-and-a-half, mile-and-a-quarter horse, so I’ve been looking forward to getting her around two turns,” trainer Mark Hennig said before the Demoiselle.

A rematch with Lake Avenue in the Busher awaits, and that should tell us a lot about both fillies.

 

10) RING LEADER (PaynterRingmaster, by Bandini)

O-Novogratz Racing Stables Inc. B-George Krikorian (KY). T-McLean Robertson. Sales History: $80,000 yrl ’18 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: SW, 3-3-0-0, $143,400.

Last Start: 1st Dixie Belle S., OP, Feb. 15

Next Start: GIII Honeybee S., OP, Mar. 7

Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 0.

She’s come a long way from breaking her maiden last year at Canterbury Park while getting a 39 Beyer figure. Since then, trainer McLean Robertson has taken his time with the daughter of Paynter. She won an allowance at Oaklawn sprinting and then came back in another sprint, winning the Dixie Belle S. Now, she’s ready to be tested in a two-turn route, the Honeybee S. at Oaklawn. She has a lot to prove, but the Oaklawn stakes did not come up that tough. With a win, Ring Leader will have emerged as an interesting horse to watch.

Not a subscriber? Click here to sign up for the daily PDF or alerts.