The Kentucky Oaks Top 10 For March 28

Tarifa (outside) of Our Pretty Woman | Hodges Photography

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Things are heating up and the prospective field for the GI Kentucky Oaks is starting to take shape. Tarifa (Bernardini) won the GII Fair Grounds Oaks last Saturday and is very much looking like the horse to beat in the Kentucky Oaks.

At Turfway Park, the former claimer Everland (Arrogate) earned her way into the Oaks with a win in the Bourbonette Oaks. Two huge preps will be run this Saturday–the GII Gulfstream Park Oaks and the GIII Fantasy at Oaklawn.

Here's a look at the latest 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', 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 4.

Tarifa is as solid as they come. She won her second straight Oaks prep when capturing the Fair Grounds Oaks presented by Fasig Tipton by three-quarters of a length. It wasn't a dominant win but it was more than enough to get the job done. She's lost just once in her career and seems to improve with every start. She's good now and it appears that trainer Brad Cox has yet to tighten the screws to the point where she has peaked. He was, however, concerned that Tarifa was rank entering the first turn. “I would like to tell you she is settling down and relaxing, but that didn't work out well in the first turn,” Cox said. “Still, she was able to overcome it. She needs to learn to relax in the race, and obviously next time we will be facing a larger field. She needs to learn to chill out and relax. We will continue to work with her.” Cox has won the Oaks twice since 2018 and seems poised to pick up his third win in May.

2) IMPEL (f, Quality Road–Your Love, by Flatter) O/B-Juddmonte (Ky); T-Brad Cox. Lifetime Record: 'TDN Rising Star' 2-2-0-0, $115,200. Last Start: WON Oaklawn AOC, Mar. 3. Kentucky Oaks Points: 0. Next Start: GI Ashland S., KEE, April 5.

Has become everybody's wise-guy horse. Though she's run just twice and never in a stakes race, she was made the 7-1 favorite in the Kentucky Derby Oaks Future Wager. It's easy to see why people like her. After breaking her maiden, she blew away a field of allowance horses at Oaklawn to win by 8 1/2 lengths. The real test will come when she faces off against the cream of the crop in the Ashland at Keeneland on Friday, April 5. “I think she's very good,” Cox said. “She's got a great mind. She doesn't overtrain. She's not super, super aggressive and does whatever you ask of her.” If she blows away the field in the Ashland she'll likely be the favorite in the Oaks over stablemate Tarifa.

3) 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: GI Ashland S., KEE, April 5.

The connections of this filly keep changing their minds about where she is going to run. After winning the Busher S. at Aqueduct they announced they would stay in New York for the GIII Gazelle S. Instead, it's on to the Ashland. “We got a race under our belt. She's going to have to face [Just F Y I] at some point again, so this might be the time to face her,” trainer Jorge Abreu told the Daily Racing Form. The horse seems to be flying under the radar because of low-profile connections, but she' the real deal. She's 3-for-4 lifetime and the only defeat came against Just F Y I (Justify) in last year's GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

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, 3-3-0-0, $1,317,750. Last start: WON Nov. 3 GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Kentucky Oaks Points: 40. Next Start: GI Ashland S., KEE, April 5.

Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott had to alter his filly's schedule after she was scratched from the GII Davona Dale because of a fever. But Mott said that his Eclipse champ has recovered and will go next in what will be a loaded Ashland at Keeneland. “Her next scheduled start is now the Ashland,” he said. “She needed the extra time to get ready.” From the standpoint of Beyer figures she needs to get faster as her best number last year was a 79. That's not going to get in done in a race like the Oaks.

Kopion | Benoit

5) 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, April 6.

Hall of Fame Richard Mandella is bringing this filly along slowly. After she won the GIII Santa Ynez S., Mandella skipped the next prep on the schedule, the March 3 Santa Ysabel S. The plan now is to go in the GII Santa Anita Oaks on April 6. She'll be up against it in the Santa Anita Oaks as the race is also expected to feature 'TDN Rising Star' Kinza (Carpe Diem) the best 3-year-old filly in the West. But she's trained by Bob Baffert, who is still under a ban at Churchill Downs, and won't be running in the Oaks. That leaves Kopion as the West Coast's best hope.

6) 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,' 2-1-1-0, $117,750. Last start: 2nd Sept. 3 GI Spinaway S. Kentucky Oaks Points: 0. Next Start: GII Gulfstream Park Oaks, GP, March 30.

Remember her? She romped in her maiden voyage when winning at Saratoga by 12 3/4 lengths. She returned in the GI Spinaway S. and was second despite clipping heels down the backstretch. She's returning this Saturday for the Gulfstream Park Oaks, which will be her first race in nearly seven months. Off that layoff and with her having just one prep before the Oaks, can Chad Brown have her ready? The answer is yes. She's been working steadily and Brown is a master when it comes to having his horses ready for big races. With Flavien Prat committed to Tarifa, Brown has given the riding assignment to Irad Ortiz Jr.

7) OUR PRETTY WOMAN (f, Medaglia d'Oro–Dazzletown, by Speightstown) O-Courtlandt Farms; B-Woods Edge Farm, LLC and Godolphin; T-Steve Asmussen. Sales History: $900,000 ylr '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 4.

Came into the Fair Grounds Oaks with a lot of potential and a lot to prove. She broke her maiden at the Fair Grounds and then romped in an allowance race there. Both were run over sloppy tracks. Facing Tarifa in the Fair Grounds Oaks, she would need to step it up, and that's what she did. She didn't win, but set the pace and put up a fight in the stretch as Tarifa beat her by less than a length. It was just her third lifetime start, so she should continue to improve. Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen will be looking for his first Oaks win since 2014 with Untapable (Tapit).

Lemon Muffin | Coady Photography

8) 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, March 30.

The goal for this Wayne Lukas trainee will be to prove that her win in the GIII Honeybee S. wasn't a fluke. She came into that race as a maiden who had never run beyond seven furlongs or around two turns. Yet, she put it all together and won by 3 1/2 lengths at odds of 28-1. Lukas has won the Oaks five times and his sixth win would allow him to pass Woody Stephens as the winningest trainer in Oaks history. Lukas has shown a lot of faith in young Keith Asmussen by giving him this mount. Lemon Muffin is a horse who could run terribly in the GIII Fantasy S. or maybe she's just hitting her best stride. It's a tough call.

9) 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, March 30.

She's a tough Florida bred by a sire, St. Patrick's Day, who stands for just $3,500. But she can run. She's never been worse than second in five career tries and is coming off a win in the Davona Dale S. for trainer Michael Yates. The Gulfstream Park Oaks will be her big test and her first race around two turns. She loses the services of jockey Tyler Gaffalione and will be ridden instead by Jorge Ruiz.

10) 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: GI Ashland S., KEE, April 5.

A $1.15 million purchase at Keeneland September, she looked like a horse that could be anything after a maiden and allowance win at Gulfstream. Trainer Todd Pletcher stepped her up in class for the Davona Dale and the results were mixed. Pounded down to 3-10 favoritism she was third, beaten 2 1/4 lengths. But at no point did it look like she was going to win the race. It's possible that she just had an off-day. We'll know more after her next start–the Ashland.

 

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