Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs

Dave Bond, OTB Writer

Las Vegas, NV -- The 138th running of the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks comes our way this Friday, May 4th as part of one of the biggest weekends in North American horse racing. The Oaks is open to three year old fillies willing to go 1 1/8 miles on Churchill Downs main track. A purse of $1 million is on the line for a superb group of 15 entries, including multiple graded stakes winners, in horses racing's female equivalent to the biggest race of them all - the Kentucky Derby.

The Kentucky Oaks is race 11 on Churchill Downs Friday schedule with a post time of 5:45 PM. Let's take a look at all then entries and the credentials that brought them to the most prestigious race on the calendar for fillies.

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Kentucky Oaks Race Favorites

Grace Hall - Grace Hall enters the Oaks having won four races and finishing second twice in six career starts - the only losses being Grade 2 Davona Dale Stakes on February 25th to fellow Kentucky Oaks contender Yara and the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies to eventual Eclipse Award winner Miss Aurelia. Her wins include Blue Hen Stakes at Delaware, an impressive win at the Grade 1 Spinaway at Saratoga and the Grade 2 Gulfstream Oaks Stakes last time out on March 31st. Grace Hall will be in tough but certainly comes into Friday in good form.

On Fire Baby - is a three time graded stakes winner and is coming off a very impressive win in the Grade 3 Honeybee Stakes at Oaklawn on March 10th and had a win on this track in the Grade 2 Golden Rod Stakes back in November. On Fire Baby has four wins in six career starts with one third place finish - at the Smarty Jones Stakes in January at Oaklawn and has three wins in her last four starts.

Broadway's Alibi - has won four straight races after finishing second in her debut - a maiden special race at Delaware Park. The win streak includes impressive scores at the Grade 3 Comely Stakes last time out on April 7th at Aqueduct and at the Grade 2 Forward Gal Stakes at Gulfstream on January 29th. She is as hot as any horse entered in the Kentucky Oaks.

Remaining Field Entries

Believe You Can - has won two of her last three starts - the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks last time out on March 31st and the Silverbulletday Stakes on that same track on January 21st. In between those results was a fourth in the Grade 3 Rachel Alexandra Stakes on February 25th. In eight career starts, Believe You Can has five wins.

Jemima's Pearl - Bob Baffert trained filly has just one Allowance Optional Claiming score in her last three starts and finished third most recently in the Grade 2 Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn on April 11th. Jemima's Pearl has only two victories and three thirds in seven career starts.

Amie's Dini - reportedly hasn't looked all that great in the lead-up to the big race but has been good at Oaklawn in 2012 - a win in the Martha Washington Stakes and seconds in the Grade 2 Fantasy Stakes most recently on April 11th, in the Grade 3 Honeybee on March 10th and the Dixie Belle Stakes on January 14th.

Eden's Moon - has two wins and a second and a third place finish in four career starts, the last result being a rather pedestrian third at the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks on March 31st. Before that was a very impressive score at the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes on March 3rd so we know that Eden's Moon is fast. Perhaps a tad overlooked, this Bob Baffert filly could emerge victorious this Friday!

Summer Applause - started her career with a sixth in a Maiden Special Weight race but has since recorded three wins and two second place finishes. Last time out Summer Applause was second in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks and before that won the Grade 3 Rachel Alexandra Stakes on February 25th.

And Why Not - has just one maiden win in five career starts but she was among the fastest at four furlongs in work leading up to the Oaks. Last time out she was a disappointing seventh in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Oaks but before that recorded a second in the Grade 2 Pocahontas Stakes on this track back in October. She is a training partner of Union Rags so we know that she has worked hard ahead of the Kentucky Oaks.

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Hard Not to Like - made her 2012 debut with a second place finish in the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland on April 7th after a good juvenile campaign. She finished off 2011 with a disappointing fifth in the Grade 2 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf but before that won the Cup and Saucer Stakes by 4 3/4 lengths at Woodbine in October. Hard Not to Like also has a fifth in the Grade 3 Natalma Stakes at Woodbine and a couple of wins in lesser races at Woodbine.

Karlovy Vary - beat Hard Not to Like in the Ashland and before that won an Allowance Optional Claiming on February 26th at Gulfstream. That's two starts this year with two wins! She has raced on this track before and finished seventh in November in the Grade 2 Golden Rod Stakes.

Yara - looked promising after an upset win in the Davona Dale Stakes on February 25th after a fourth at the Grade 2 Forward Gal Stakes at Gulfstream. But Yara followed up that impressive win with a disappointing fifth last time out in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Oaks.

Scarcity - has placed in three straight graded stakes races - a second last time out in the Grade 2 Beaumont in April at Keeneland, a third in the Grade 2 Forward Gal on January 29th and an impressive win in the Grade 3 Old Hat Stakes on January 1st.

Colonial Empress - is the daughter of Empire Maker but has placed just once in three career starts - the Grade 3 Honeybee at Oaklawn on March 10th.

Oaks Lily - is the alternate entry for the Kentucky Oaks - someone is going to have to drop out for her to get the start. Oaks Lily broke maiden last time out at Keeneland and before that was second in the OBS Championship (Filly Division) Stakes. She has two other third place finishes in eight career starts and will be the longest shot if she gets the nod.

Kentucky Oaks Entries

Race 11 on Churchill Downs's Friday card with a Post Time of 5:45 PM.

Post Horse Jockey Trainer ML Odds
1 On Fire Baby J. Johnson G. Hartlage
2 Grace Hall J. Castellano A. Dutrow
3 Summer Applause G. Gomez W. Calhoun
4 Eden's Moon M. Garcia B. Baffert
5 Hard Not to Like R. Albarado G. Cox
6 Broadway's Alibi J. Velazquez T. Pletcher
7 Sacristy M. Smith W. Catalano
8 Jemima's Pearl J. Talamo B. Baffert
9 Believe You Can R. Napravnik J. Jones
10 And Why Not J. Leparoux M. Matz
11 Karlovy Vary J. Graham G. Arnold, II
12 Colonial Empress C. Nakatani D. Lukas
13 Amie's Dini J. Court R. Moquett
14 Yara J. Castanon J. Garoffalo
15 (AE) Oaks Lily R. Bejarano T. Hills

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