The Kentucky Oaks Top 10 For Feb. 22

Tarifa | Hodges


We have a new No. 1. Tarifa (Bernardini) beat a stellar field in the GII Rachel Alexandra S. at the Fair Grounds to soar up the list to the top spot. We've dropped Candied (Candy Ride {Arg}), who has only had two three furlongs works so far this year, raising the possibility that she won't be ready for the GI Kentucky Oaks. We've also dropped Alpine Princess (Classic Empire) after a disappointing fourth-place finish in the Rachel Alexandra and Life Talk (Gun Runner), who was a disappointing sixth in the Suncoast S. for Repole/Pletcher. The spotlight this weekend will be on the GIII Honeybee S. at Oaklawn Park, which includes two members of our top 10.

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

1) TARIFA (f, Bernardini–Kite Beach, by Awesome Again) O/B-Godolphin (KY); T-Brad Cox. Lifetime Record: GSW, 4-3-0-0, $278,925. Last start: WON Feb. 17 GII Rachel Alexandra S. Kentucky Oaks Points: 50. Next start: GII Fair Grounds Oaks, FG, Mar. 23 or GI Ashland S., Kee, Apr. 5

We didn't even have this filly on prior Top 10 lists, but she did enough in her win in the Rachel Alexandra to move all the way up to the top spot. Making her first start in a stakes and going up against some tough, more experienced horses, this was no easy spot for the daughter of Bernardini as she was facing, among others, GII Golden Rod S. winner Intricate (Gun Runner). But she made it look easy, drawing off to win by 2 3/4 lengths under Flavien Prat, picking up a Beyer figure of 90, the same number given to GII Risen Star S. winner Sierra Leone (Gun Runner). As usual, trainer Brad Cox is loaded with talent in the 3-year-old filly division and will be searching for his third win in the race since 2018. With the sire's death in 2021, Tarifa is a member of Bernardini's penultimate crop to hit the track.

2) 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, 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.

Just F Y I | Benoit Photography

Hard to knock the champ down a spot in this poll when she hasn't done anything wrong. But it's becoming apparent with each prep that she's going to have to step up her game when it comes to how fast she is. While a horse like Tarifa picked up a 90 Beyer in her last start, Just FYI has never run faster than a 79. That's not to say she can't do it. Horses can improve dramatically from two to three and in Bill Mott she is being trained by one of the very best in the business. She's had five workouts so far this winter at Payson Park, the latest being a five-furlong breeze on Feb. 17 in 1:03.60, so look for Mott to tighten the screws in the coming weeks.

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.

The runner-up in the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, Jody's Pride is also being pointed for the GII Davona Dale S. at Gulfstream, which will mark her 3-year-old debut. The Davona Dale looks like it's going to come up very strong. The knock on Jody's Pride is the same as it is on Just F Y I. She's not particularly fast and the 79 she got in the Juvenile Fillies is her all-time best number. If this doesn't work out she can always try the turf as she is by American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile). In the Juvenile Fillies, she was ridden by Flavien Prat, who also has the mount on Tarifa.

4) 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, 3-2-1-0, $116,600. Last start: 2nd Feb. 10 GIII Las Virgenes S. Kentucky Oaks Points: 20. Next Start: GII Santa Anita Oaks, SA, Apr. 6

Kopion | Benoit

Kopion is not the best 3-year-old filly based in Southern California. Kinza (Carpe Diem) is, and she beat her handily in the GIII Las Virgenes S. on Feb. 10. But Kinza is trained by Bob Baffert, which means she is effectively banned from running in the Oaks. Kopion might be second on the Southern California depth chart, but she's a good filly in her own right. In just three lifetime starts, she's won a Grade III and placed in another. Is trained by Richard Mandella, who likes to take his time with his horses, so it may be that we haven't seen her best yet. Still another filly ridden by Flavien Prat, who is the regular rider of three of the top four horses in this poll.

5) 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.

Has an interesting pedigree. Is by Into Mischief (Harlan's Holiday) out of an unraced Galileo (Ire) mare and she wasn't cheap. Owner Mandy Pope paid $1,150,000 for her at Keeneland September. She's only raced twice, has yet to run in a stakes race and has never gone beyond seven furlongs, so she has some catching up to do. In her last race, she won a Gulfstream allowance by a length and had to fight off a challenge from Gun Song (Gun Runner). That filly came back and won her next start by 5 3/4 lengths. Leslie's Rose will have to do more to solidify her status as a top Kentucky Oaks threat, but it's clear that she has a world of potential.

6) POWER SQUEEZE (f, Union Rags–Callmethesqueeze, by Awesome Again) O-Lea Farms, LLC; B-Forging Oaks Farm (KY); T-Jorge Delgado. Sales history: $50,000 yrl '22 KEESEP; $90,000 2yo '23 OBSAPR. Lifetime Record: MSW, 5-3-1-0, $188,650. Last start: WON Feb. 10 Suncoast S. Kentucky Oaks Points: 20. Next Start: GII Gulfstream Park Oaks, GP, Mar. 30.

Trained by up-and-coming trainer Jorge Delgado, she's been carefully managed so far this year. After she broke her maiden at Delaware Park in October, she came back to win two non-graded races this year, the Cash Run S. and the Suncoast S. Will have a much stiffer test in the GII Gulfstream Park Oaks, but very well could be up to the task. Life Talk was supposed to dominate in the Suncoast, but threw in a clunker, so there's no telling how good the competition behind Power Squeeze was. Was ridden by Daniel Centeno in the Suncoast. Will be interesting to see if Delgado goes for a more high profile jockey for the next start.

7) 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: GIII Honeybee S., OP, Feb. 24.

She was last seen winning the Jan. 20 Silverbulletday S. at the Fair Grounds and is now slated to run in Saturday's GIII Honeybee S. at Oaklawn Park. The Silverbulletday was a fairly soft spot so she may need to improve to win the Honeybee. Is a Brad Cox trainee and a homebred from the Gary and Mary West operation. The Wests have yet to win a Kentucky Oaks. She was entered in the Rachel Alexandra and was one of three trained by Cox entered. But he scratched West Omaha and put her on a van to Oaklawn, no doubt trying to find a way to keep some of his horses apart.

8) 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, 4-2-1-0, $362,180. Last start: 2nd GII Rachel Alexandra S. Kentucky Oaks Points: 35. Next Start: GII Fair Grounds Oaks, FG, Mar. 23

Didn't run a bad race at all when second in the Rachel Alexandra when beaten 2 3/4 lengths by Tarifa. But she was the 17-10 favorite, so the race should go down as a mild disappointment. Has drawn comparisons to last year's Oaks winner Pretty Mischievous (Into Mischief) because both are trained by Brendan Walsh. Pretty Mischievous also had one off day on her way to Oaks glory, finishing second in the Fair Grounds Oaks. No reason why Intricate can't rebound.

9) 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, 3-2-0-0, $206,000. Last start: WON Feb. 3 Martha Washington S. Kentucky Oaks Points: 20. Next Start: GIII Honeybee S., OP, Feb. 24.

Band of Gold | Coady

The Honeybee will be a big test for this Kenny McPeek trainee. She's coming off a 2 3/4-length win in the Martha Washington, but some may want to downgrade the effort since she was 24-1 that day and she was not good in her previous start, the Untapable S. Was it a fluke? With her having gone from a 63 Beyer to a 86 in the Martha Washington, may also be a bounce candidate.

10) RECHARGE (f, Gun Runner–Remit, by Tapit) O/B-Winchell Thoroughbreds (KY); T-Steve Asmussen. Lifetime Record: SW, 3-3-0-0, $189,498. Last start: WON Feb. 18 Sunland Park Oaks. Kentucky Oaks Points: 20. Next Start: GIII Fantasy S., OP, Mar. 30.

It looks Steve Asmussen has his horse for the Oaks. Recharge is undefeated in three starts and was last seen winning the Sunland Park Oaks. Prior to that, she broke her maiden at Remington and then won an allowance at Sam Houston, so, apparently, was not part of Asmussen's first string. There are definitely questions regarding who she has beaten, but there's also plenty of time for Asmussen to improve her and have her ready for tougher spots.

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