The TDN Kentucky Oaks Top 10 For August 20

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Gamine | Sarah Andrew

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Nothing can overshadow the GI Kentucky Derby, but the GI Longines Kentucky Oaks will come as close as it gets. The showdown between the brilliant TDN Rising Star‘ Gamine (Into Mischief) and the indomitable Swiss Skydiver (Daredevil) could make for the most compelling race of the year. Both have been so good that it is hard to see one losing, but one must. This is the 3-year-old version of Rachel Alexandra versus Zenyatta.

With Swiss Skydiver polishing off the competition once again in last Saturday’s GI Alabama S., the last Oaks prep has been run and the field is all but set. Envoutante (Uncle Mo), Crystal Ball (Malibu Moon), Harvey’s Lil Goil (American Pharoah) and Spice Is Nice (Curlin) have all fallen off the list after being beaten a long way in the Alabama.

Meanwhile, Swiss Skydiver’s jockey assignment is not yet set. Trainer Kenny McPeek said the choice has come down to Brian Hernandez, Jr. or Tyler Gaffalione, who rode her in the Alabama.     And a familiar name has reemerged. Though his filly has not started since Mar. 8, trainer Simon Callaghan reports that Rising Star‘ Donna Veloce (Uncle Mo) is back in serious training and will have a work Friday at Del Mar that will determine whether she goes in the Oaks or the GII Eight Belles S.

1) 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: MGISW, 4-3-0-0, $363,600.
Last Start: GI Longines Test S., SAR, Aug. 8
Accomplishments: 1st GI Longines Acorn S., BEL, June 20
Next Start: GI Longines Kentucky Oaks, CD, Sept. 4
Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 50.

Reasons why Gamine will beat Swiss Skydiver: she is the faster of the two horses. She ran a 110 Beyer in the GI Longines Acorn S. and a 108 in the GI Longines Test S. The best Swiss Skydiver has managed a 102, her number for the Alabama. She has brilliant early speed and can use that to her advantage. There are not a lot of other front-running types lining up for the Oaks and Gamine may well find herself loose on the lead. She cost $1.8 million at the sales, $1.765 million more than Swiss Skydiver went for. Bob Baffert is very hard to beat when he comes into these big races with talented horses. Among the Big 2, Gamine is the more unproven filly because we don’t know just yet if she will be at her best at a mile-and-an-eighth, but if she crushes the field we are definitely talking about one of the best of all time.

2) 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, 9-5-2-1, $952,980.
Last Start: 1st GI Alabama S., SAR, Aug. 15
Next Start: GI Longines Kentucky Oaks, CD, Sept. 4
Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 450.

Reasons why Swiss Skydiver will beat Gamine: While distance is an unknown for Gamine, Swiss Skydiver is rock solid at nine furlongs. That’s her edge over Gamine, the distance. She cost $35,000 at the sales as compared to $1.8 million for Gamine and underdogs do have a way of coming through. Trainer Kenny McPeek, who takes a backseat to no one, is due to win an Oaks. He’s winless in nine tries, but has finished second twice. She seems to get better with every start and is coming off a career-best race in the Alabama. Since she came into her own in the March 28 GII Gulfstream Park Oaks, Swiss Skydiver has always fired. She just doesn’t have a bad day. She’s simply a very good horse.

3) 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: GISW, 7-2-4-1, $353,840.
Last Start: 1st GI Ashland S., KEE, July 11
Next Start: GI Longines Kentucky Oaks, CD, Sept. 4
Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 160.

Does she need both Gamine and Swiss Skydiver to have a bad day in order to win? The most likely answer is yes. After finishing behind Gamine in an allowance at Oaklawn (she was elevated to first after Gamine tested positive for lidocaine) and second behind Swiss Skydiver in the GII Santa Anita Oaks, Speech probably has to improve four or five lengths to have any chance. That’s not a knock on her but an indication of how good the Big 2 are. Doesn’t have the speed of Gamine, but can press the pace and might be put in the position of having to go against Gamine early. Will be seeking a third Kentucky Oaks win over the last three years for co-owner Sol Kumin, who won the Oaks in 2018 with Monomoy Girl (Tapizar).

4) 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: MGISP, 4-2-2-0, $490,000.
Last Start: 1st GIII Santa Ysabel S., SA, Mar. 8.
Next Start: Possible for GI Longines Kentucky Oaks, CD, Sept. 4 OR GII Eight Belles S., CD, Sept. 4
Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 62.

Her potential re-entry into the Oaks picture was unexpected, as she will come into the race off a layoff of nearly six months. Can she fire her best shot after so much time on the bench? She will have to do so to have any chance and maybe even to finish in the top four. A tall task, but let’s not forget what a talented filly this horse is. She finished second in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies after just one prior start, a 6 1/2-furlong maiden, and she beat Speech by 4 1/4 lengths in her lone start this year. Connections have said she may go in the seven-furlong GII Eight Belles S. over the Oaks. Her status will be determined after a work Friday.

5) BONNY SOUTH (MunningsTouch the Star, by Tapit)
O/B-Juddmonte Farms (Ky). T-Brad Cox. Lifetime Record: GSW, 6-3-1-0, $443,350.
Last Start: 2nd GI Alabama S., SAR, Aug. 15
Next Start: GI Longines Kentucky Oaks, CD, Sept. 4
Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 190.

Is second on the Kentucky Oaks points list, trailing only Swiss Skydiver. After finishing a distant fourth in the GI Ashland S., she didn’t appear to have the stuff to be a major contender in the Oaks. She didn’t come through in her biggest test to that point and was throwing in Beyer numbers in the 80s, which weren’t going to get it done in the Oaks. But it’s time to take a second look at her. She was no threat to winner Swiss Skydiver in the Alabama, but finished second ahead of some good horses in what was likely the best race of her life. It appears she liked the mile-and-a-quarter in the Alabama.

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: MGSW, 9-4-2-2, $501,768.
Last Start: 1st GIII Indiana Oaks, IND, July 8
Next Start: GI Longines Kentucky Oaks, CD, Sept. 4
Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 90.

Really no telling how good this filly is. While trainer Brad Cox threw Bonny South into two straight Grade I events, he has picked out a couple of easy spots of late for his other Oaks contender. Probably the biggest knock on her is that she lost to Swiss Skydiver by 13 1/4 lengths in the Fantasy. No matter how this turns out, it is a remarkable feat for sire Daredevil (also the sire of Swiss Skydiver) to have two fillies in the running for the Oaks. In November, Daredevil was sold to overseas interests and now stands in Turkey.

7) HOPEFUL GROWTH (TapitureMaiden America, by Rock Hard Ten)
O-St Elias Stable. B-Phillips Racing Partnership (KY). T-Anthony Margotta Jr. Sales History: $160,000 Ylg ’18 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: GSW, 5-3-1-0, $183,240.
Last Start: 1st GIII Monmouth Oaks, MTH, Aug. 1
Next Start: GI Longines Kentucky Oaks, CD , Sept. 4
Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 50.

Will be one of several horses in the race who go off at odds of 20-1 or higher and won’t be given much of a chance by most handicappers. The best thing that can be said for her is that she ran the race of her life when winning the GIII Monmouth Oaks in her last start. But she will be facing a much, much tougher field at Churchill and hasn’t done enough yet to suggest she is capable of beating the very best 3-year-old fillies in the country.

8) TONALIST’S SHAPE (TonalistHitechnoweenie, by Harlan’s Holiday)
O-Slam Dunk Racing, Doug Branham & Legacy Ranch, Inc. B-Sabana Farm (KY). T-Saffie Joseph, Jr. Sales History: $45,000 RNA yrl ’18 KEESEP; $60,000 RNA 2yo ’19 OBSAPR. Lifetime Record: MGSW, 8-6-0-0, $378,425.
Last Start: 4th GI CCA Oaks, SAR, July 18
Next Start: GI Longines Kentucky Oaks, CD, Sept. 4
Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 70.

If you go on recent form, she doesn’t have a prayer. She was beaten 11 3/4 lengths in the GI Coaching Club American Oaks, which didn’t feature a particularly tough field. For her to even come close she’s going to have to duplicate the form she showed over the winter at Gulfstream for perpetually hot trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. Even though her sire won the GI Belmont S., she shows signs of being at her best around one turn and in races at a mile or less.

9) PROJECT WHISKEY (TapizarOver the Moon, by Malibu Moon)
O-Cash Is King LLC & LC Racing; B-Dark Hollow Farm (MD); T-Robert E Reid Jr. Sales History: $35,000 Ylg ’18 FTMOCT. Lifetime Record: 8-3-1-2, $302,580.
Last Start: 2nd GIII Monmouth Oaks, MTH, Aug. 1
Next Start: GI Longines Kentucky Oaks, CD, Sept. 4
Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 70

Like Swiss Skydiver, she cost just $35,000 at the sales, going for that price at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern Fall Yearling Sale in 2018. She entered the Kentucky Oaks picture with a half-length win at 38-1 in the GIII Delaware Oaks, but couldn’t back that up when second in the Monmouth Oaks. Co-owner Chuck Zacney may have a case of Kentucky Oaks Fever, understandable after his Cathryn Sophia (Street Boss) won the race in 2016.

10) TEMPERS RISING (BayernMarchmont, by Mountain Cat)
O-Mark H & Nancy W Stanley; B-Dr Bryan Boone DVM (KY); T-Dallas Stewart. Sales History: $50,000 Wlg ’17 KEENOV; $70,000 Ylg ’18 KEESEP; $145,000 RNA 2yo ’19 OBSMAR; $170,000 RNA 2yo ’19 FTMMAY; $150,000 RNA HIT ’20 KEEHRA. Lifetime Record: 10-1-5-2, $222,627.
Last Start: 2nd Alw/Opt. Clm., ELP, July 31
Next Start: GI Longines Kentucky Oaks, CD, Sept. 4
Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 47

Trainer Dallas Stewart is known for his ability to get big long shots ro run surprisingly big races in major events. He won the Oaks in 2016 with 47-1 shot Lemons Forever (Lemon Drop Kid). Can he do it again? It will be very difficult. Tempers Rising shows just a maiden win from 10 career start and was beaten last time out in an allowance race at Ellis Park. She did run second behind Bonny South in the GII Fair Grounds Oaks. Stewart will need all of his longshot magic to get this one to finish on the board.

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