Denton S. Kentucky Oaks Picks

By Denton Senft

Posted: August 10, 7:17 PM

Churchill Downs

May 03 2019

3:11 PM

Kentucky Oaks May 3, 2019

  1. Restless Rider PP14 6-1 (Brian Hernandez/Kenny McPeek)- Restless Rider will be running in her 2nd race of 2019 campaign. After battling to be 2nd late last year in both the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and the Golden Rod (both ran at Churchill Downs) she kicked off her 2019 season with another near win and a 2nd place finish in the G1 Ashland at Keeneland early in April. The Ashland field was a solid one and a speed favoring track led Out For a Spin who sat just off the lead to spring an upset at 52-1 by a neck over Restless Rider. McPeek should have her tuned up for this one and despite the wide post position I think her running style will do her well here and she’ll have plenty of pace to run into. She’s a perfect 7 for 7 in the exacta and 4 for 4 here at Churchill including 2 of her 3 wins.
  2. Bellafinia PP4 2-1 (Flavien Prat/Simon Callaghan)- The morning line favorite has done no wrong in 2019 dominating each of her performances at Santa Anita. She is the favorite and rightfully so but I still have some concerns. Does she want the distance and can she run outside of her California home? She’s only been out of the exacta one time in her career and it was here at Churchill in last year’s BC Juvenile Fillies. The talent is undoubtable but I find her most recent win in the Santa Anita Oaks scarily similar to her win in the Chandelier Stakes last year which was her final start before shipping to Churchill. In both starts she was in a small field breaking from the outside post and have everything her way before drifting in during her stretch run making me question how much she might really want the 1/8 Oaks distance.
  3. Motion Emotion PP8 15-1 (Mike Smith/Thomas Van Berg)- Motion Emotion is fast!!! There’s a part of me that despite knowing that there is a ton of pace signed on for the race thinks Motion Emotion might get the jump on the other speed and control the tempo. While it didn’t work we’ve seen Serengeti Empress attempt to rate just off the pace in the BC Juvenile Fillies last year and she’s returning from some bleeding that caused her issues in the Fairgrounds Oaks. If she’s not 100% and can’t get to the front to pressure Motion Emotion it leaves Jaywalk to most likely press Motion Emotion. With Jaywalk she just hasn’t looked good in 2019 and hasn’t taken any steps forward since her win in the BC Juvenile Fillies. If Motion Emotion gets loose on the lead look out. She to me is arguably right there with Bellafinia as the most talented horse in the field. She’s a game performer who arguably ran better races than both Chocolate Kisses and Lady Apple who had the pace setup well for them to run her down. Do not be surprised if she wires this field.
  4. Positive Spirit PP6 30-1 (Manny Franco/Rodolphe Brisset)- If you throw out the Rachel Alexandra where she was restless at the gate and never really all that involved you have a horse that showed steady improvement over the start of career. Maybe after the romp in the Demoiselle Stakes she was due for some regression and bounced in the Rachel Alexandra. She returned to Aqueduct for the Gazelle where she had to set the pace that day as there wasn’t much speed signed on. She responded by battling gamely to run 2nd to Always Shopping who will skip the Oaks. The Gazelle and Demoiselle were raced at the 1 1/8 distance which gives her a leg up on her competitors who haven’t seen this distance. She rates a good chance to run in at a big number and is one of a few live long shots I like.

Other Contenders

Chocolate Kisses PP2 20-1 (Julien Leparoux/Mark Casse)- One of my other live longshots is Chocolate Kisses. She was extremely impressive in the Honeybee at Oaklawn where she ran down Motion Emotion from the clouds. She bounced in the Ashland but that was a track favoring speed. She gets a field filled with horses wanting to be on or near the lead and a battle up front would go a long way as she’ll be one of the few gobbling up a ton of ground late.

Lady Apple PP3 20-1 (Ricardo Santana Jr./Steve Asmussen)- Can she run anywhere other than Oaklawn? After failing to register a win in her first career starts between Keeneland/Belmont/Saratoga she moved to Oaklawn where’s rattled off 3 straight wins including a nice win in her last the G3 Fantasy. She continues to improve which is nice to see as some of the others in this race have presented us with question marks. Keep an eye on the tote board as it will be interesting to see what the public thinks of her.

Champagne Anyone PP10 6-1 (Undecided/Ian Wilkes)- Was all she needed blinkers? After stepping up to stakes company she failed to fire in three straight starts. She added the blinkers and wins gamely in the Gulfstream Park Oaks. I hope she’s not as forwardly placed as she was in the Gulfstream Park Oaks as this field has a ton of speed and I think she’ll be a potential win contender if she can run from off the pace like she did in her first two wins.

Street Band PP12 15-1 (Sophie Doyle/Larry Jones)- In the Fairgrounds Oaks Sophie Doyle and Street Band turned the tables on Serengeti Empress. Serengeti Empress had just come off dominating the Rachel Alexandra, in which Street Band finished 4th, and looked well on her way to another dominating performance when controlling the pace up front with nearly identical half mile fractions as the Rachel Alexandra. Unfortunately for Serengeti Empress she had some bleeding issues and ended up needing to be vanned off. This opened the door for Street Band to draw off in the stretch and win the race impressively over Liora by almost 4 lengths. She’ll have a strong pace to run into and Sophie Doyle will hope to become just the 2nd female Jockey (Rosie Napravnik 2012,2014) to win the Kentucky Oaks.

Suggested Betting Strategy

$20 WPS #14 Restless Rider

$1 Ex Box 14 with 2,3,4,6,8,10,12

$.50 tri 14 with 2,3,4,6,8,10,12 with ALL