In the Money takes a closer look at some of the options for the lone Oaks Future Pool, opening Friday at noon and closing Sunday at 6 p.m.
Beholder (15-1) is a talented filly who can carry her speed, but the Oaks distance is a tall order for her.
Calistoga (20-1) was a rare debut winner for Bill Mott who looked like the real deal in a front-running romp in her debut at Gulfstream. Only one start and it was an easy lead; she hasn’t been tested and will have to ace stakes company in a short amount of time to make the gate.
Close Hatches (20-1) is in a similar situation, although her win was even more impressive as she made a memorable closing rally in her debut at seven furlongs. The Oaks distance could be a challenge as she has a middle-distance pedigree and also has a higher dosage (4.14). If she can collect points, she’s an outside contender.
Dreaming of Julia (12-1) couldn’t handle the fleet Live Lively in the Davona Dale and hasn’t won since she capped a three-race win streak with the Frizette in October. She has a pedigree to handle distance, but an analysis of her wins as a 2-year-old shows she hasn’t topped quality competition yet.
Emollient (15-1) boasts more experience than the other Mott runners and got an education in a troubled trip last time out. The daughter of Empire Maker is consistent, and although she was topped by Unlimited Budget in November going 1 1/8-miles, she appears to be maturing as a 3-year-old. She’s a good fit for the Oaks distance.
Executiveprivilege (15-1) is back in training after being sidelined by quarter cracks. She’ll be pressed for time to make the Oaks and the distance could be a challenge for her.
Fiftyshadesofhay (20-1) is highly regarded by her connections, including trainer Bob Baffert, who tweeted about her prior to this Saturday’s Las Virgenes, in which she will face Beholder. If she runs to the talk, expect a significant odds drop by closing time Sunday. She is a top-tier Oaks contender if she performs well Saturday.
Flashy Gray (15-1), another Mott hopeful, is a very talented daughter of Flashy Bull who hasn’t missed a step in her transition to a 3-year-old. Her game is likely sprint to middle distance, however, and her dosage is a whopping 8.33.
Live Lively (12-1) has all the qualities of a star filly: versatility, speed and she can adjust to various pace scenarios. She boasts an outstanding pedigree as a daughter of Medaglia d’Oro and already collected 50 points with her Davona Dale win. Top prospect; check the odds at 5 p.m. Sunday.
Midnight Lucky (12-1) is the buzz filly for Bob Baffert, and deservedly so after her “freaky” debut at Santa Anita. Her powerful move when she caught the front-runner and drew away was visually impressive. Baffert says a stakes race is next and, other than Fiftyshadesofhay and Blonde Fog (who hasn’t worked since Jan. 20), the California contingent is light, so she has an outstanding chance to collect points. Another dominating performance and she could easily be the favorite on Oaks Day.
Princess of Sylmar (15-1) is one of In the Money’s top Oaks fillies to watch and has been since her maiden win. She recently returned to training at Belmont. Although she hasn’t tried graded stakes, she has class and experience, plus an advantageous running style for the Oaks. At last report, the connections were more interested in a Saratoga campaign than making Kentucky, but it was under consideration. Very interesting if the odds are in this ballpark.
Private Ensign (30-1) couldn’t keep pace with the speedy Live Lively in the Davona Dale, but don’t count her out of contention for the Oaks. She has the pedigree for longer distances and looks like she’d be tailored for the Churchill Downs surface. The only question is points – can she acquire any if she stays at Gulfstream? Opportunistic odds.
Promise Me More (50-1) delivered a last-to-second rally in the Rachel Alexandra that leads one to believe she could excel at longer distances. She’s performed well overall since coming off the layoff. Still, Unlimited Budget was much the best in that race and promise Me More hasn’t topped any classy competition yet. The Ashland at Keeneland or the Fair Grounds Oaks are possibilities.
Pure Fun (10-1) is training well and hopes to make the Honeybee at Oaklawn on March 9. The Hollywood Starlet was one of the most impressive races among the 2-year-old fillies, and after some inconsistency, she seemed to find her stride at the end of the year.
Renee’s Titan (20-1) is a “wacky” filly with some quirks according to trainer Doug O’Neill, but there’s no question she shows promise. We’ll know more Saturday after she takes on Beholder and Fiftyshadesofhay in the Las Virgenes, but so far, she’s been inconsistent.
Rose to Gold (50-1) suffered her first loss on dirt when shipping to Oaklawn for the Martha Washington. She gets a new jockey in Calvin Borel, who would be quite a benefit at Churchill Downs, but this filly faces an uphill battle class-wise.
Sister Ginger (30-1) was the upset victor in the Martha Washington and is a tough filly to judge. She had an “off” race prior at Oaklawn and seems to be a hit-or-miss type. Outstanding pedigree, however, with a dosage of 0.87. One of several Oaks candidates who are under the radar for Steve Asmsussen, whose Countess Curlin is not among the wagering interests.
So Many Ways (30-1) returns to the track Friday in a small stake at Gulfstream, so we’ll get a gauge of how she’s doing off the layoff. Classy Grade 1 winner who has beaten solid competition; would the daughter of Sightseeing appreciate 1 1/8-miles is the question.
Spellbound (30-1) is a Santa Anita allowance winner who appears to be on the improve as a 3-year-old and obviously liked the switch to dirt. Router’s pedigree and running style; her final times for a mile over that surface haven’t been inspiring, however, and she has yet to face top competition. Price is right if you think she could hold her own against the California contingent in a stakes test.
Spring in the Air (50-1) bled in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile fillies, so that’s a toss race. Prior to that, she was quite consistent and won at 1 1/16-miles over synthetic. She’s training very forwardly at Ocala Training Center; the question of dirt looms, but if she can handle that, she’ll be back on the radar and at much lower odds.
Touch Magic (50-1) is the Silverbulletday winner who did not run in the Rachel Alexandra and hasn’t worked since Feb. 16. Consistent, but tough to envision her against the likes of Live Lively, Emollient and Unlimited Budget.
Unlimited Budget (10-1) has done nothing wrong in three starts and won the Rachel Alexandra with ease. The daughter of Street Sense hasn’t lost a step in the transition to a 3-year-old, tallied points and is on a perfect timeline for Louisville. She only needs one more prep – possibly the Fair Grounds Oaks – and barring an off performance, she could go in as the Oaks favorite depending on the results in California.
All Others (3-1) is appealing if in this neighborhood, but not as much as with the Derby Futures Pool as several of these fillies among the individual wagering interests look like top Oaks contenders.