The Kentucky Oaks Top 10 for Mar. 8

Tarifa | Hodges Photography


The GII Davona Dale S., run last Saturday at Gulfstream, was all about the return of Eclipse Award winner Just F Y I (Justify). But she was scratched with a fever, delaying her 3-year-old debut. At Aqueduct, Jody's Pride (American Pharoah) won the Busher S., picking up enough points to guarantee her a spot in the GI Kentucky Oaks. It will be a relatively quiet weekend for the horses on the road to the GI Kentucky Oaks. The GIII Santa Ysabel at Santa Anita will be headlined by Kinza (Carpe Diem). She looks like the best 3-year-old filly in training, but will not be allowed to run in the Oaks because she is trained by Bob Baffert.

Here's a look at the fourth 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: 'TDN Rising Star', GSW, 4-3-0-0, $278,925. Last start: WON Feb. 17 GII Rachel Alexandra S. Ky Oaks Points: 50. Next Start: GII Fair Grounds Oaks, FG, Mar. 23 or GI Ashland S., Kee, Apr. 5

Tarifa will have one more prep before the Kentucky Oaks and if she passes that test she will likely be the favorite come the first Friday in May. Trainer Brad Cox still hasn't decided between the GII Fair Grounds Oaks or the GI Ashland S. She has had her first workout since her win in the GII Rachel Alexandra S. presented by Fasig-Tipton, breezing a half-mile at the Fair Grounds Mar. 3 in :49.80. Considering that the Rachel Alexandra was her stakes debut, this filly is good now and figures to only get better for Cox.

2) JODY'S PRIDE (f, American Pharoah–Jody's Song, by Scat Daddy) O-Parkland Tbreds & Sportsmen Stable; B-Mr. Steve Weston (Ky); T-J Abreu. Lifetime Record: MSW & GISP, 4-3-1-0, $590,250. Last start: WON Mar. 2 Busher S. Kentucky Oaks Points: 65. Next Start: GIII Gazelle S., AQU, Apr. 6.

The connections of Jody's Pride, the runner-up in the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, called an audible at the line of scrimmage and withdrew from the Davona Dale in order to run in the Busher S. at Aqueduct. It was a smart move. They knew they'd be the headliner against a weak field of competitors and that it was a good spot to pick up easy Oaks points. It worked out perfectly as she splashed her way over a sloppy track to win by 2 1/4 lengths with Jose Lezcano aboard. It was the third win in the race over a five-year span for trainer Jorge Abreu. She didn't have particularly good Beyer numbers coming into the race and, though she did improve, her Beyer was an 80. That means she's going to have to run faster in upcoming races. They will stay in New York and run next in the GIII Gazelle S. Her 65 Oaks points puts her at No. 1 on that list.

3) 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: TBD.

Things had gone perfectly for this daughter of Justify through her championship campaign in 2023 and early 2024. She was primed for her return in the Davona Dale, but came down with a fever, forcing trainer Bill Mott to scratch her. Normally, that would be a minor setback, but Just F Y I will now likely go into the Kentucky Oaks with just one prep. That could be a problem. “Her temperature is back to normal,” Mott said. “She looks bright and is eating well. Three races are possible if she recovers well, the Gulfstream Park Oaks, the Fantasy or the Ashland.” A high-quality filly, but she can't afford to have another setback.

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. Ky Oaks Points: 20. Next Start:GIII Santa Ysabel S., SA, Mar. 9

Kopion is in an odd spot. She's not the best 3-year-old filly based in Southern California. Kinza is. But Kopion is California's top threat for the Kentucky Oaks. That's because Kinza is trained by Bob Baffert and will not be allowed to start in the Oaks. She's also not the best 3-year-old filly in the Richard Mandella barn. Tamara (Bolt d'Oro) is. But she has been sidelined and won't be making it to Churchill Downs. According to the Santa Anita notes team, Kopion, a daughter of Omaha Beach will, face off against Kinza again in Saturday's Santa Ysabel S. In some respects, a second-place finish will seem like a win.

5) 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.

The real test for this filly will come in the GII Gulfstream Park Oaks, the final Kentucky Oaks prep run in Florida. The connections have been running her in non-graded races and she has come through, winning the Cash Run S. at Gulfstream and the Suncoast S. at Tampa Bay Downs. How good is she? We don't know yet. Sold for just $90,000 at last year's OBS June sale. She is trained by Jorge Delgado, who is not well known on the national scene, but is winning at a 30% clip on the year. For his career, his winning percentage is 22%.

6) 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

Brendan Walsh will be looking to become the first trainer to win back-to-back runnings of the Kentucky Oaks since Wayne Lukas. Lukas won the 1990 Oaks with Seaside Attraction and the 1989 Oaks with Open Mind. Walsh enjoyed a terrific year last year with Pretty Mischievous (Into Mischief), who raised her profile in her Oaks win and went on to win the 3-year-old filly championship. Intricate has more to prove before she can be compared to her illustrious stablemate, but there's no reason why she won't have a similar year. Took a bit of a hit when second behind Tarifa in the Rachel Alexandra, but she ran well and was beaten by a top-class filly.

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: 'TDN Rising Star', GSP, 3-2-0-1, $89,950. Last start: 3rd Mar. 2 GII Davona Dale S. Kentucky Oaks Points: 15. Next Start: TBD.

A $1.15-million purchase at Keeneland September, this daughter of Into Mischief faced her biggest challenge to date in the Davona Dale S. The results were mixed. She didn't run terribly in what was her stakes debut. She finished third as the 3-10 favorite and was beaten 2 1/4 lengths. The race came after she posted big Beyer numbers in her maiden win and in an allowance race. Trainer Todd Pletcher reports that her next start will either be in the Ashland or the Gulfstream Park Oaks. She deserves one more chance, but a defeat in her next start would mean the bloom is off this rose.

8) 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: 3rd in Feb. 24 GIII Honeybee S. Kentucky Oaks Points: 40. Next Start: TBD.

Brad Cox is always loaded with talent in the 3-year-old filly division. It looks like Tarifa is his best prospect, but her stablemate West Omaha is still in the mix. After a win in the Silverbulletday S. presented by Fasig-Tipton, she disappointed when third in the GIII Honeybee. S. at Oaklawn as the 11-10 favorite. A little bit on the erratic side, she wins every other race. There can't be any excuses next time…she needs a major win to prove she has what it takes to win the Kentucky Oaks.

9) LEMON MUFFIN (f, Collected–Pelt, by Canadian Frontier)

O-Aaron Sones; B-Mr & Mrs Theodore R Kuster & Collected Syndicate (KY); T-D Wayne Lukas. Sales history: $20,000 yrl '22 KEESEP; $140,000 2yo '23 OBSAPR. Lifetime Record: GSW, 6-1-4-0, $305,250. Last start: WON Feb. 24 GIII Honeybee S. Kentucky Oaks Points: 50. Next Start: GIII Fantasy S., OP, Mar. 30.

The remarkable story of Hall of Famer Wayne Lukas just keeps going and going. He's now 88, but has shown the world he's still more than capable of competing at the highest levels of the sport and against the very best trainers. He's also bold enough to do what few other trainers would. Prior to her win in the Honeybee, Lemon Muffin was still a maiden after five starts and had never run beyond six furlongs. On paper, she looked to be up against it in the Honeybee but scored the upset at 28-1. Was it a fluke? We'll find out in her next start. Having won the 2022 Oaks with Secret Oath (Arrogate), Lukas will be out to win his second Oaks in three years.

10) FIONA'S MAGIC (f, St Patrick's Day–Mollie's Magic, by Factum) O/B-Stonehedge, LLC (FL); T-Michael Yates. Lifetime Record: GSW, 5-3-2-0, $250,910. Last start: WON Mar. 2 GII Davona Dale S. Kentucky Oaks Points: 60. Next start: GII Gulfstream Park Oaks, GP, Mar. 30.

When the entries came out for the Davona Dale, Fiona's Magic was completely overshadowed by Just F Y I and Leslie's Rose. But when the dust cleared, Just F Y I had been scratched and Leslie's Rose didn't live up to her billing. That left a void and it was filled by this Florida-bred daughter of St. Patrick's Day (Pioneerof the Nile). She was bred by and is owned by Marilyn Campbell's Stonehedge Farm South, the Florida Breeder of the Year in 1997, 2013, and 2016. Trainer Michael Yates is not well known outside of Florida, but he has won the Davona Dale in back-to-back years. His 2023 winner was Dorth Vader (Girvin).

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