TDN Kentucky Oaks Top 10 for May 7

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Swiss Skydiver | Coady Photo

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After several weeks of inactivity, the 3-year-old filly division roared back to life last weekend as the GIII Fantasy S. at Oaklawn brought together a large and deep field that included five members of the TDN‘s GI Kentucky Oaks Top Ten. The race was dominated by two horses, Swiss Skydiver (Daredevil) and Venetian Harbor (Munnings). As for the rest of the field, each one will need to regroup before they can be considered top candidates for the Oaks. On Saturday at Oaklawn, the highly regarded TDN Rising Star‘ Gamine (Into Mischief) stepped up to win an allowance race for trainer Bob Baffert over an improving Speech (Mr Speaker). Ain’t No Elmers (Goldencents), who had been in the TDN‘s Top 10, finished fifth in the race and might do her best running in sprint races.

While racing is set to resume at a number of racetracks, there isn’t a clear path to the Oaks and won’t be until more tracks post new stakes schedules for the remainder of the spring and the summer. The only traditional prep that has been scheduled is the GII Santa Anita Oaks on June 6.

1) SWISS SKYDIVER (Daredevil–Expo Gold, by Johannesburg)
O-Peter J Callahan. B-WinStar Farm (Ky). T-Kenneth G McPeek. Sales History: $35,000 yrl ’18 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: MGSW, 6-3-1-1, $386,820.
Last Start: 1st GIII Fantasy S., OP, May
Next Start: To Be Determined
Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 210.

Swiss Skydiver come out of nowhere to become–at least when it comes to Kentucky Oaks points–the top 3-year-old filly in the country. Backed up her breakout performance in the GII Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Park Oaks with a huge win over Venetian Harbor in a loaded Fantasy S., where she was dismissed at 16-1. Her Beyer number in the race was a 99, better than the figure given to GI Arkansas Derby winners Nadal (Blame) and Charlatan (Speightstown). Has come a long way since finishing a distant third in the GII Rachel Alexandra S. In her last two starts, she showed much more speed than she had displayed previously, and the new running style has seemed to make all the difference. McPeek has said he may run her next in England in the G1 1000 Guineas, but the long-range goal remains the GI Kentucky Oaks. “I think we can have our cake and eat it too,” McPeek said of the possibility of starting in both the Kentucky Oaks and the 1000 Guineas.

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, 4-2-2-0, $243,400.
Last Start: 2nd, GIII Fantasy S., OP, May 1
Next Start: To Be Determined
Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 50.

Coming into the Fantasy, she was the most hyped 3-year-old filly in the country and was expected to once again run away from her competition. It didn’t work out that way as Venetian Harbor finished second behind Swiss Skydiver, losing by 2 1/2 lengths. But by no means did she run a bad race. She had to run hard early and ripped off fractions of :22 1/5, :45 2/5 and 1:09 3/5. Trainer Richard Baltas said he remains as high on his filly as ever, but is somewhat concerned that she is not a two-turn, mile-and-an-eighth horse. “I’d like to run her in something like the Acorn or the Test,” he said, mentioning two Grade I, one-turn races in New York. “I’m trying to figure out if she can get a mile-and-an-eighth. Can she? I don’t know. She has so much natural speed she would be awfully tough in races like the Acorn and Test.”

3) GAMINE (Into MischiefPeggy Jane, by Kafwain)
‘TDN Rising Star’ O-Michael L. Petersen. B-Grace Thoroughbred Holdings LLC (KY). T-Bob Baffert. Sales History: $220,000 yrl ’18 KEESEP; $1,800,000 2yo ’19 FTMMAY. Lifetime Record: 2-2-0-0, $69.600.
Last Start: 1st Allowance/Optional Claimer, OP, May 2
Next Start: To Be Determined
Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 0.

After a promising debut, the filly who topped the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale at $1.8 million, won her two-turn test when facing off against allowance rivals last Saturday at Oaklawn. So much was expected of her that some might look at a win by a mere neck as a disappointment. But she beat a up-and-coming horse in Speech (Mr Speaker) and figures to improve with more racing. Baffert will no doubt find a stakes for her next start, and that should answer a lot of questions about this very expensive 2-year-old purchase.

4) SPEECH (Mr SpeakerScribbling Sarah, by Freud)
O-Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners. B-Gail Rice (FL). T-Michael W. McCarthy. Sales history: $65,000 ylg ’18 OBSWIN; $95,000 RNA ylg ’18 FTKJUL; $190,000 2yo ’19 OBSMAR. Lifetime Record: GSP, 5-1-3-1, $73,840.
Last Start: 2nd Allowance/Optional Claimer, OP, May 2
Next Start: To Be Determined
Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 0.

If you like Gamine, you have to like Speech as well. After finishing second behind Donna Veloce (Uncle Mo) in the GIII Santa Ysabel S., she gave Gamine all she could at Oaklawn and finished 6 1/2 lengths ahead of the third-place finisher. She’s probably not good enough right now to win a race like the Oaks, but she seems to be on the improve for the sizzling Michael McCarthy stable, which is winning at a 32% on the year.

5) BONNY SOUTH (MunningsTouch the Star, by Tapit)
O/B-Juddmonte Farms (Ky). T-Brad Cox. Lifetime Record: GSW, 4-3-0-0, $323,350.
Last Start: 1st GII Fair Grounds Oaks, FG, Mar. 21
Next Start: To Be Determined
Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 100.

With British Idiom (Flashback), who was 10th in the GIII Fantasy S., struggling to regain her form, trainer Brad Cox has had to go to his deep bench. Come September, Bonny South could emerge as his top Oaks threat. Owned and bred by Juddmonte Farms, the daughter of Munnings won the GII Fair Grounds Oaks in her stakes debut and has now won three straight. Having bypassed the Fantasy with this filly, Cox will need to find a spot for her. She is on a regular work schedule at Keeneland.

6) SHEDARESTHEDEVIL (Daredevil–Starship Warpspeed, by Congrats)
O-Flurry Racing Stables LLC, Qatar Racing Limited & Big Aut Farms. B-WinStar Farm, LLC (KY). T-Brad Cox. Sales History: $100,000 wlg ’17 KEENOV; $20,000 RNA yrl ’18 KEESEP; $280,000 2yo ’19 KEENOV. Lifetime Record: GSW, 7-2-2-2, $337,648.
Last Start: 3rd, GIII Fantasy S., OP, May 1
Next Start: To Be Determined
Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 100.

She was third in a loaded GIII Fantasy S., but was beaten 13 1/4 lengths as she just couldn’t keep up with Swiss Skydiver and Venetian Harbor. It may be that she ran her race and ran into two buzz saws. Also trained by Brad Cox, Shedaresthedevil was coming off a win in the GIII Honeybee S. She will obviously need to improve off her effort in the Fantasy.

7) WATER WHITE (Conveyance–Uzume, by Unbridled’s Song)
O-E.V. Racing Stable. B-Richard Forbush (KY). T-Rudy Rodriguez. Sales History: $50,000 yrl ’18 FTKOCT. Lifetime Record: SW, 6-2-2-0, $234,275.
Last Start: 1st Busher Invitational S., AQU, Mar. 7
Next Start: To Be Determined
Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 54.

Moves up on the list, but it’s more a case of attrition and horses running their way off the list. She was last seen Mar. 7, winning the Busher S. at Aqueduct and was second in her prior start in the Busanda S. The $50,000 FTKOCT grad has been training regularly at Belmont for trainer Rudy Rodriguez, but there is no telling where she will run next until NYRA puts out a revised stakes schedule.

8) DONNA VELOCE (Uncle MoCoin Broker {Ire}, by Montjeu {Ire})
‘TDN Rising Star’ O-Kaleem Shah, Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith. B-Coin Broker Syndicate (KY). T-Simon Callaghan. Sales History: $450,000 yrl ’18 KEESEP; $800,000 2yo ’19 FTFMAR. Lifetime Record: GSW & MGISP, 4-2-2-0, $490,000.
Last Start: 1st GIII Santa Ysabel S., SA, Mar. 8
Next Start: To Be Determined
Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 62.

On talent alone, she’s a lot better than the eighth best 3-year-old filly, but she lands in this spot because she is no certainty to make the Oaks. She’s been sidelined by a minor injury and is rehabing at Stonestreet Farm. “It’s a minor thing so there is a chance we will make the Oaks,” trainer Simon Callaghan said. “She’s not off the Oaks trail, but things have to go well for her to make it. We won’t push her. We’ll let her come around.” In her only start this year, the pricey Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream buy looked very good winning the Santa Ysabel.

9) FIRE CORAL (CurlinCoral Sun, by A.P. Indy)
O-Susan Moulton. B-Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC (KY). T-Steven Asmussen. Sales History: $420,000 ylg ’18 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: 4-2-0-0, $119,850.
Last Start: 5th GIII Fantasy S., OP, May 1
Next Start: To Be Determined
Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 0.

Of all the fillies who got beat double-digit lengths in the Fantasy, she stands out as the one that had the worst trip. Here’s what the chart caller had to say about her journey around Oaklawn: “Fire Coral clipped heels then lost irons past the wire the first time, fell far back, remained in the back for the run up the backstretch, swung out five wide turning for home, improved position while finding her best stride too late. ” She’s by Curlin and looked good winning an allowance race in March. She has the potential to be a stakes winner.

10) 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: 4th GII Fair Grounds Oaks, FG, Mar. 21
Next Start: To Be Determined
Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 80.

Finite was on top of this list for weeks, but that was before she ran a lackluster fourth in the Fair Grounds Oaks. She hasn’t raced or worked since. Trainer Steve Asmussen has plenty of time to get her ready for the Oaks. If she returns to form and is once again the horse who reeled off five straight victories, she will be a force to be dealt with come September. Like Donna Veloce, she is better than her ranking, but drops down the list because of the uncertainty.

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