The Kentucky Oaks Top 10 for April 11

Tarifa | Coady

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Prep season for the GI Kentucky Oaks is over and we have a pretty good idea of who is going to be in the race and which ones are the horses to beat. With three major preps–the GI Ashland S., the GII Santa Anita Oaks and the GIII Gazelle S.–all run over the weekend, there was plenty of movement in our Top 10. But the very solid Tarifa (Bernardini) maintains the top spot for Brad Cox.

Here's a look at the latest installment of our Kentucky Oaks Top Ten:

1) TARIFA (f, Bernardini–Kite Beach, by Awesome Again)
O/B-Godolphin (KY); T-Brad Cox. Lifetime Record: 'TDN Rising Star', MGSW, 5-4-0-0, $518,925. Last start: WON Mar. 23 GII Fair Grounds Oaks. Kentucky Oaks Points: 150. Next Start: GI Kentucky Oaks, CD, May 3.

Had someone done something spectacular in the GI Ashland S. at Keeneland, 'TDN Rising Star' Tarifa might have been knocked down a peg. It didn't happen that way. Tarifa's stablemate, Impel (Quality Road), who was getting all the hype prior to the Ashland ran third, but does not have enough points to get into the Oaks. There's just no knocks on Tarifa, who is four-for-five lifetime and is riding a three-race winning streak. She faced a tough bunch in the GII Fair Grounds Oaks Presented by Fasig-Tipton and prevailed. She's more steady than spectacular, but you know she will show up on Oaks Day for trainer Brad Cox, who will be seeking his third win in this race.

2) LESLIE'S ROSE (f, Into Mischief–Wildwood Rose {Ire}, by Galileo {Ire}) 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: 'TDN Rising Star', GISW, 4-3-0-1, $467,800. Last start: WON GI Ashland S. Kentucky Oaks Points: 115. Next Start: GI Kentucky Oaks, May 3

The Ashland was easily the best Oaks prep run so far this year, so you have to give a lot of credit to the winner, 'TDN Rising Star' Leslie's Rose. She was bought by owner Mandy Pope at Keeneland September for $1.15 million and got her career off to a fast start, with two straight wins, including a 9 1/4-length romp in her debut. But she stubbed her toe when third at odds of 3-10 in the GII Davona Dale S. on a day when she had no excuses. The betting public all but gave up on her in the Ashland, sending her off at 9-1. It now looks like she may fulfill her potential after all. Trainer Todd Pletcher has won the race four times and will tie all-time leaders Woody Stephens and Wayne Lukas with a win.

3) THORPEDO ANNA (f, Fast Anna–Sataves, by Uncle Mo) O-Brookdale Racing, Inc., Mark Edwards, Judy B. Hicks & Magdalena Racing (Sherri McPeek); B-Judy Hicks (Ky); T-Kenneth McPeek. Sales history: $40,000 yrl '22 FTKOCT. Lifetime Record: 'TDN Rising Star', GSW, 4-3-1-0, $584,363. Last Start: WON GII Fantasy S., Mar. 30. Kentucky Oaks Points: 105. Next Start: GI Kentucky Oaks, May 3.

Still another 'TDN Rising Star,' she sold for just $40,000 at the 2022 Fasig-Tipton Fall Yearling Sale. Trainer Kenny McPeek has a knack for finding good horses that didn't cost a lot and this is the latest example. She won her first two races by a combined margin of 17 1/2 lengths before finishing second in the GII Golden Rod S. as an odds-on favorite. But she was back at her best when scoring an easy four-length win in the GII Fantasy S. The Fantasy will be her only prep for the Oaks, but there's little doubt that McPeek willl have her tight enough and ready for the Kentucky Oaks.

4) JUST F Y I (f, Justify–Star Act, by Street Cry {Ire}) O/B-George Krikorian (Ky); T-Bill Mott. Lifetime Record: Ch. 2yo Filly, GISW, 4-3-1-0, $1,433,250. Last start: 2nd in GI Ashland S. Kentucky Oaks Points: 90. Next Start: GI Kentucky Oaks, May 3.

All things considered, she didn't run badly in the Ashland, even if it was her first career defeat. Trainer Bill Mott had to play catch-up after she missed a start in the GII Davona Dale S. with a fever. That meant she had to run well in the Ashland to have enough points to make the Oaks. She had a good trip under Junior Alvarado and looked to be within striking distance at the top of the stretch, but couldn't deliver the knockout punch. Every reason to believe she will run better in the Oaks.

5) POWER SQUEEZE (f, Union Rags–Callmethesqueeze, by Awesome Again) O-Lea Farms, LLC; B-Forging Oaks Farm, LLC (Ky); T-Jorge Delgado. Sales history: $50,000 yrl '22 KEESEP; $90,000 2yo '23 OBSAPR. Lifetime Record: GSW, 6-4-1-0, $337,450. Last start: WON GII Gulfstream Park Oaks, Mar. 30. Kentucky Oaks Points: 120. Next Start: GI Kentucky Oaks, May 3.

She flew in under the radar when winning the GII Gulfstream Park Oaks at odds of 11-1. It was her fourth straight win and her third straight in stakes company for high-percentage trainer Jorge Delgado. She originally sold for $50,000 at Keeneland September and then for $90,000 at OBS June. Has seemed to get better as the distances have gotten longer and is 2-for-2 around two turns.

6) WHERE'S MY RING (f, Twirling Candy–Mapit, by Tapit) O-Michael McMillan; B-Don Alberto Corporation (Ky); T-Val Brinkerhoff. Sales history: $100,000 yrl '22 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: GSW, 8-1-3-1, $202,620. Last start: WON GIII Gazelle S., Apr. 6. Kentucky Oaks Points: 125. Next Start: GI Kentucky Oaks, May 3.

You have to give trainer Val Brinkerhoff a lot of credit. He could have stayed on the West Coast with this filly, but that would mean facing off against the Baffert monsters in the GII Santa Anita Oaks. So he shipped her across the country to run in the Gazelle at Aqueduct, where the competition would be lacking. In fact, Where's My Ring was a maiden after seven starts coming into the race, but still went off as the 5-2 favorite. The win was more than good enough to get her into the Oaks, but the competition will much tougher than what she faced last Saturday at the Big A.

7) WAYS AND MEANS (f, Practical Joke–Strong Incentive, Warrior's Reward) O/B-Klaravich Stables (Ky); T-Chad Brown. Lifetime Record: GISP, 'TDN Rising Star,' 3-1-2-0, $165,750. Last start: 2nd Mar. 30 GII Gulfstream Park Oaks. Kentucky Oaks Points: 50. Next Start: GI Kentucky Oaks, May 3.

Is currently 16th on the leader board when it comes to her getting into the Oaks, so trainer Chad Brown is going to have to hope for some defections. But if she gets in, she can absolutely win. After romping by 12 3/4 lengths in her debut, she was second in the GI Spinaway S., but came out of that race with a chip in an ankle. That's why she didn't make her 3-year-old debut until the Mar. 30 GIIGulfstream Park Oaks. She had a tough trip that day, but managed to run second. Every reason to believe she will be better next time out, whether that's in the Oaks or not.

8) OUR PRETTY WOMAN (f, Medaglia d'Oro–Dazzletown, by Speightstown) O-Courtlandt Farms; B-Woods Edge Farm, LLC & Godolphin; T-Steve Asmussen. Sales History: $900,000 yrl '22 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: GSP, 3-2-1-0, $150,200. Last start: 2nd Mar. 23 GII Fair Grounds Oaks. Kentucky Oaks Points: 50. Next Start: GI Kentucky Oaks, CD, May 3.

She's 17th on the points list, so is another one who is going to need a break to make it into the Oaks starting gate. Trained by Steve Asmussen, this $900,000 Keeneland yearling purchase won her first two starts and then faced the acid test when meeting Tarifa in the Fair Grounds Oaks. She ran a huge race that day, finishing second, losing by just three-quarters of a length. She's lightly raced and didn't make her debut until Jan. 18 of this year. So there's plenty of room for improvement.

9) WEST OMAHA (f, West Coast–Birthday Bash, by Medaglia d'Oro) O/B-Gary and Mary West (Ky); T-Brad Cox. Lifetime Record:  SW & MGSP, 6-2-3-1, $369,250. Last Start: 2nd GII Fantasy S. Kentucky Oaks Points: 90. Next Start: GI Kentucky Oaks, May 3.

After she won the Silverbulletday S. Presented by Fasig-Tipton, she looked like she'd be a major player in this division for Brad Cox. Instead, she ran third in the GIII Honeybee S. and second in the Fantasy S. It looks like the rest of the division has caught up to her and passed her. Will need to improve to contend in the Oaks.

10) LEMON MUFFIN (f, Collected–Pelt, by Canadian Frontier) O-Aaron Sones & Julie Gilbert; B-Mr & Mrs Theodore Kuster & Collected Syndicate (Ky); T-D W Lukas. Sales history: $20,000 yrl '22 KEESEP; $140,000 2yo '23 OBSAPR. Lifetime Record: GSW, 7-1-4-0, $324,000. Last Start: 7th GII Fantasy S. Kentucky Oaks Points: 50. Next Start: GI Kentucky Oaks, May 3.

Sometimes the Wayne Lukas-trained horses run their best when it is least expected. Lemon Muffin was terrible in the Fantasy, losing by 10 3/4 lengths. She was a different horse in her prior start when winning the Honeybee by 3 1/2 lengths at odds of 28-1. She was still a maiden at the time and had never gone beyond seven furlongs. But instead of that race vaulting her forward, it seemed to have caused her to take a step in the wrong direction. Will be a big longshot in the Oaks, but you can never throw the cagey Lukas out.

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