The TDN Kentucky Oaks Top 10 for June 25

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Gamine | Sarah Andrew

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Since the last TDN Kentucky Oaks Top 10, Swiss Skydiver (Daredevil) won the GII Santa Anita Oaks and Gamine (Into Mischief) dominated in the GI Acorn S. Two very good fillies, they have moved to the head of the class and no one else comes close. A Swiss Skydiver-Gamine showdown in the GI Kentucky Oaks would make it one of the best races of the year.

With more than two months left before the Oaks, most in the group will have at least one more prep. The GI Ashland July 11 at Keeneland is shaping up to be one of the more important preps on the year. Saratoga will offer a trio of races that all may have an impact on the Oaks in the July 18 GI Coaching Club American Oaks, the Aug. 8 GI Test S., and the Aug. 15 GI Alabama S.

Deletions from the list since it last ran include Finite (Munnings) and Donna Veloce (Uncle Mo), neither of whom have any recent workouts and are running out of time to make the Oaks.

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: GISW, 3-3-0-0, $234,600.

Last Start: 1st GI Longines Acorn S., BEL, June 20

Next Start: To Be Determined

Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 50.

Heading into last weekend, it seemed inconceivable that a horse could dislodge Swiss Skydiver from the top spot. That changed in the 1:32.55 it took for Gamine to crush her foes in the Acorn. It was simply one of the best performances from a filly since, well, Rachel Alexandra or Zenyatta. She got a 110 Beyer figure, 10 points higher than Tiz the Law (Constitution) ran in winning the GI Belmont S. A horse that sold for $1.8 million at last year’s Fasig-Tipton 2-Year-Old Midatlantic sale, she won her first two starts, but not in the fashion that suggested she was a superstar. Trainer Bob Baffert has yet to pick out the next race for his filly, but a start in the GI Coaching Club American Oaks July 18 makes sense. That would be a good test because the only thing Gamine has yet to prove is how she will fare against quality fillies going around two turns. Her only two-turn race was the allowance at Oaklawn and she was hard pressed to win. Looking into the fall, if Baffert really wants to get adventurous, the GI Preakness S. could be an option. Owner Michael Lund Petersen lives in Baltimore.

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, 7-4-1-1, $557,980.

Last Start: 1st GII Santa Anita Oaks, SA, June 6

Next Start: GI Ashland S., KEE, July 11

Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 310.

Swiss Skydiver is putting together the type of campaign that is hard to find these days. She wins, she doesn’t miss a dance and she ships all over the country. After his filly won the GIII Fantasy S. in May, trainer Ken McPeek could have sent her to the sidelines, but chose instead to ship her all the way to California for the GII Santa Anita Oaks. She dominated again, winning by four lengths. She’s raced seven times and has run at six tracks and won at four. In any other year, she would be the clear cut No. 1 for the Oaks. But with Gamine’s explosive performance in the Acorn she drops down to No. 2.

3) VENETIAN HARBOR (MunningsSounds of the City, by Street Cry {Ire})

O-Ciaglia Racing LLC, Highland Yard LLC, River Oak Farm & Dominic Savides. B-Colts Neck Stables LLC (KY). T-Richard Baltas. Sales History: $110,000 yrl ’18 KEESEP; $205,000 RNA 2yo ’19 OBSAPR. Lifetime Record: GSW, 4-2-2-0, $243,400.

Last Start: 2nd GIII Fantasy S., OP, May 1

Next Start: To Be Determined

Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 50.

It’s been a quiet seven weeks for Venetian Harbor, who hasn’t started since finishing second as the odds-on favorite in the Fantasy May 1. In hindsight, it was far from a bad race as she was beaten by Swiss Skydiver. It did, however, suggest that she may have distance limitations. Trainer Richie Baltas said either the GI Test S. Aug. 8 or the GI Ashland S. July 11 will be next. He’s moved his filly from Santa Anita to San Luis Rey Downs because he feels Venetian Harbor likes the surface there better. “I think she can go a distance,” Baltas said. “The key with her is just getting her to relax.” A lot of people jumped off her bandwagon after the Fantasy, but she’s clearly got a lot of ability and a win in the Test or Ashland would serve notice that she could very well be a major factor in the Oaks.

4) 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: MGSP, 6-1-4-1, $113,840.

Last Start: 2nd GII Santa Anita Oaks, SA, June 6

Next Start: To Be Determined

Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 60.

She’s eligible for a first-level allowance race and has lost five of her six starts. Normally, that wouldn’t be nearly a good enough record for someone to land in the No. 4 spot in an Oaks poll, but Speech is far better than her record suggests. Her problem is that she keeps running into bears. She was second behind Donna Veloce in the GIII Santa Ysabel before finishing second behind Gamine in an allowance at Oaklawn, losing by just a neck. That Gamine came back off that race and shattered the stakes record in the Acorn makes Speech look that much better. She got beat by another very good horse when second behind Swiss Skydiver in the Santa Anita Oaks. Hard to make a case that she can win an Oaks that includes Gamine and Swiss Skydiver, but she’s a good filly that has been unlucky. Trainer Michael McCarthy reports that she will run next in either the Ashland or the GIII Beaumont, a seven-furlong race at Keeneland July 10.

5) BONNY SOUTH (MunningsTouch the Star, by Tapit)

O/B-Juddmonte Farms (Ky). T-Brad Cox. Lifetime Record: GSW, 4-3-0-0, $323,350.

Last Start: 1st GII Fair Grounds Oaks, FG, Mar. 21

Next Start: GI Ashland S., KEE, July 11

Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 100.

In Bonny South and Shedaresthedevil, trainer Brad Cox has a pair of contenders. Cox has been pleased with how they are doing, but notes that what counts is how the horses will be doing come the time of the Oaks. “We’re trying to get them to peak in September, and that’s tough,” he said. “I have to maintain where they are at and keep it going through a bunch more races. That’s my job.” With Bonny South, he will also have to make sure the rust is off as she has not run since winning the GII Fair Grounds Oaks Mar. 21. Owned and bred by Juddmonte, she’s a quality filly who might have come around in the wrong year. The Ashland is next.

 

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: GSW, 8-3-2-2, $385,368.

Last Start: 1st AOC, CD, June 5

Next Start: GIII Indiana Oaks, IND, July 8

Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 70.

The other top 3-year-old filly in the Cox barn, she’s been kept busy. Cox snuck her into a June 5 allowance at Churchill and she responded with a six-length win. It put her back in the mix after she finished third, beaten 13 1/4 lengths in the Fantasy. She’ll go next in the Indiana Oaks, where she will no doubt be the favorite. Like stablemate Bonny South, she’s got plenty of ability but must show more before considered one of the elite members of the division.

7) 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, 7-6-0-0, $357,425.

Last Start: 1st Hollywood Wildcat S., GP, May 15

Next Start: GI Ashland S., KEE, July 11

Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 60.

She was easy to write off after a disappointing seventh-place showing in the GII Gulfstream Park Oaks. She came into the race undefeated but really struggled in what was her two-turn debut. She returned for trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. in the Hollywood Wildcat S. at Gulfstream, which she won by 3 3/4 lengths. Yes, it was a much easier spot but it was also a two-turn race and she handled that fine. “She came back and won and did it the right way,” Joseph said. “To see her come back and win like she did was really important.” Joseph said the Ashland is likely next. If so, it will be a huge test for this one.

8) WATER WHITE (Conveyance–Uzume, by Unbridled’s Song)

O-E.V. Racing Stable. B-Richard Forbush (KY). T-Rudy Rodriguez. Sales History: $50,000 yrl ’18 FTKOCT. Lifetime Record: SW & GISP, 7-2-2-1, $270,275.

Last Start: 3rd GI Longines Acorn S., BEL, June 20

Next Start: GI Coaching Club American Oaks, SAR, July 18

Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 64.

Once you get past the first six or seven, the prospective Oaks field starts to get thin. The third tier includes Water White. She entered the Oaks picture with a nose win in the Busher Invitational back in March at Aqueduct. She didn’t reappear until last Saturday in the Acorn. The good news is that she was third. The bad news is that she was beaten 19 1/4 lengths by Gamine. Might be better suited to easier spots. A $50,000 purchase at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Select Yearling sale.

9) PROVOCATION (Into MischiefMeadow Breeze, by Meadowlake)

O-Speedway Stable LLC; B-Betz/D.J. Stables/CoCo/Burns/Magers (KY). T-Bob Baffert. Sales History: $160,000 yrl ’18 KEESEP; $350,000 2yo ’19 OBSAPR. Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $30,000.

Last Start: 1st MSW, SA, June 21

Next Start: To Be Determined

Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 0.

The Bob Baffert barn seems to have an endless supply of talent. Last Sunday at Santa Anita he unveiled another potential star in Provocation. The Into Mischief filly sold for $350,000 last year at the OBS April 2-Year-Old sale. Sent off at 3-5 for her debut, she led every step of the way for Mike Smith in an easy and impressive victory. The question now is whether or not she can play catch up. Breaking your maiden at 6 1/2 furlongs is one thing. Winning the Kentucky Oaks is another. Can Baffert get her there?

10) PLEASANT ORB (OrbPleasant Home, by Seeking the Gold)

O/B-Charles E. Fipke (KY); T-Barclay Tagg. Lifetime Record: GISP, 5-1-3-1, $111,825.

Last Start: 2nd GI Longines Acorn S., BEL, June 20

Next Start: GI Test S., SAR, Aug. 8

Equineline PPs. Kentucky Oaks Points: 20

Pleasant Orb enters the picture after finishing a well-beaten second in the Acorn. The story is her trainer, Barclay Tagg. We know he has a horse for the GI Kentucky Derby in Tiz the Law. Might he also have an Oaks horse, albeit a longshot? She has a long way to go, but Pleasant Orb seems to be getting better with every start. She was third behind Tonalist’s Shape in the Hollywood Wildcat before her Acorn performance. Hard to gauge the horses that were trounced that day by Gamine, but a second-place finish in the Acorn is enough for her to fill out our 10th spot.

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