I find it a bit appalling that I’ve never written down my Kentucky Oaks and Derby picks other than the random Twitter comment. But that all stops this year, not only have I created my own platform to spew my thoughts via WordPress, but as a Keeneland employee, I am right in the thick of Derby-mania. Before I get to any Derby talk, I have to talk about the Oaks, ladies first!
This year’s race is full of very talented fillies, and it is wide open. Originally, the race was thought to be dominated by a filly named Songbird. This undefeated filly dominated every race she has run and there was even talk that she was better competition for the boys in the Kentucky Derby versus the Oaks. But she spiked a fever after her last race and was pulled from consideration for the Oaks. While it is sad that Songbird won’t get to add the most famous filly race to her resume, it does make the Oaks a lot more interesting. I have three top horses in this race.
Top Pick: 11- Rachel’s Valentina
Though she is the morning line favorite, I have to pick this filly. Rachel’s Valentina is the only daughter of the famous Rachel Alexandria who won the Kentucky Oaks in 2009. On her legacy alone, I have to root for her. Aside from her amazing heritage, this filly is incredibly talented. She won her debut and was immediatley entered into the Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes and won that race. Her next start was the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies where she finished second to superstar filly Songbird. She had a long layoff before her sole three-year-old start in the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland where she faced undefeated Cathryn Sophia. Both of them engaged in an intense stretch duel and right as Rachel’s Valentina pulled past Cathyrn Sophia, longshot Weep No More beat her by a neck at the wire. Every performance of her career, she gives a brilliant performance, she has never finished worse than second and she has ran in Grade 1 company since her second race. She has the experience, and obviously the pedigree to win this race.
13 – Land Over Sea
My next pick is Land Over Sea. This filly ran second to Songbird five times! Talk about bad luck, she raced agianst the best three-year-old filly in the country for the better part of her short racing career. She finally escaped Songbird with a run in the Fair Grounds Oaks and she easily won the race. Without Songbird to compete with her, I think Land Over Sea has a real shot to beat this field. She is obviously a great racehorse who has just often faced a better one.
2 – Weep No More
Though my heart loves Rachel’s Valentina, I had to be impressed by Weep No More’s win in the Ashland. This filly wasn’t even in consideration as a contender in that five-horse field, and she shocked everyone when she came out of nowhere to steal the race. She has an interesting back class, her first start in a MSW 55000, she didn’t hit the board. Then she won her next start, a MSW 23000. She then won an ungraded stakes at Tampa Bay before winning the Ashland. She made her case as a brilliant closer and Corey Lanerie made a brilliant move. With Lanerie taking the mount agian, I could see her ‘stealing’ the Oaks in a similar fashion.
I’ll post my Derby Picks tomorrow!