Nine fillies entered Monday for Friday’s 146th running of the Grade 1 $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks, setting the stage for an epic matchup between 3-year-old fillies Gamine and Swiss Skydiver. Churchill Downs’ longtime oddsmaker Mike Battaglia slotted Gamine the 1-1 favorite with Swiss Skydiver at 8-5. The Oaks goes as Race 12 of 13 with Oaks-Derby daily double wagering available for Saturday’s ‘Run for the Roses.’
Swiss Skydiver starts in post 1, while Gamine drew the 5-hole. The Kentucky Oaks pace likely runs through Gamine, who has led every call of her 4 starts. Donna Veloce also is fast and drawn between the favorites. The run to the clubhouse turn will be interesting to see how the pace shakes out with Grade 1 Ashland heroine Speech in post 4 likely to be just off the first flight. Trainer Kenny McPeek indicated after the draw that he and Tyler Gaffalione won’t be taking back and rationing the speed of Swiss Skydiver, “letting her run to the first turn.”
From this eye, Gamine in post 5 could be hard-sent to clear Swiss Skydiver, Donna Veloce and Speech. If she had drawn inside, the other riders may have let her send away and be less aggressive. She’ll earn this Kentucky Oaks over 1-1/8 miles if the trio inside of her are hustled.
Bob Baffert aims for a fourth Oaks title with Gamine. He’s one of three Oaks-winning trainers in the lineup along with Brad Cox (Shesharesthedevil) and Dallas Stewart (Tempers Rising). No trainer has won the Oaks and Derby the same year since Ben Jones (1952) with Real Delight & Hill Gail. Baffert also will have Authentic and Thousand Words expected to enter Tuesday (11 am ET) for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.
The complete field for Friday’s 146th Kentucky Oaks:
1-Swiss Skydiver (Tyler Gaffalione) 8-5
2-Tempers Rising (Julien Leparoux) 50-1
3-Donna Veloce (Ricardo Santana) 15-1
4-Speech (Javier Castellano) 5-1
5-Gamine (John Velazquez) 1-1
6-Bayerness (Rafael Bejarano) 50-1
7-Shesharesthedevil (Florent Geroux) 20-1
8-Hopeful Growth (Manny Franco) 30-1
9-Dream Marie (Joe Talamo) 50-1