The eyes of the racing world will be on the Kentucky Derby this Saturday, but don’t lose sight of Friday’s 13-race Kentucky Oaks card at Churchill Downs. The Late Pick 4 wager that begins in race 8 encompasses the G-I Kentucky Oaks, G-I La Troienne and G-2 Edgewood on the turf – all with 10 or more entries. Last year’s Oaks Pick 4 paid $1,093 for a 50-cent wager with three winners at 4-1 odds or less. Here’s a look at this year’s races with a suggested $42 play:
CD 8th race (3:03 EST) -- CARAVEL (pictured above) checks all the boxes as a solo play to lead off the Pick 4, albeit at a short price. She is the lone millionaire in the $300,000 Unbridled Sidney Stakes, having defeated the boys in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at 42-1 odds, then returning six months later to do it again, repelling two challenges and digging in for another photo-finish victory in the G-II Shakertown. She’s fast enough to overcome post 11, versatile enough to handle firm or soft footing and undeniably resilient in her attempt to win at her seventh different turf venue.
CD 9th race (4:04 EST) -- With a solo play on the favorite in the first leg of the Pick 4, I’ll try to beat SECRET OATH, last year’s Kentucky Oaks winner and classiest runner in the $750,000 La Troienne (G-I). Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said in published reports this week that Secret Oath is as good as ever, but she returns in three weeks off a gut-wrenching, photo-finish setback against Clairiere in the G-I Apple Blossom at this distance. The only time she raced on shorter rest was a troubled fourth in last year’s Preakness, following her Oaks victory. PLAYED HARD won off a six-month layoff to begin a $777k season as a 4-year-old that included a pair of G-III route victories at Churchill Downs. In her lone G-I test last year, she backed off an early duel with Letruska, a five-time G-I winner on the front end, and finished third after six-time G-I winner Malathaat and three-time G-I placed Army Wife passed by. SEARCH RESULTS back-pedaled in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff when last seen in November, but she was 9/4-2-3 in her previous graded states attempts and is working forwardly for her return at a preferred distance. The well-traveled A MO REAY willingly pursued the odds-on favorite in the G-I Beholder Mile at Santa Anita and surged by late to prevail. She has been at Churchill for more than a month and at least gets pace to rally into after drawing the outside post.
CD 10th race (4:51 EST) -- REVALITA’S debut in the U.S. was a good one. She was unhurried in last for a half-mile in a compact field and further compromised by a slow pace. She swung 6-wide in the stretch, finished full of run and galloped out far in front. The lack of pace in this field and post 11 are deterrents, but she gets top billing in the $500k Edgewood (G-II) on the lawn. PAPILIO checked sharply while 5-wide on the backstretch against REVALITA and just missed in her stateside debut. She bounced back stronger in G-II Appalachian on the Keeneland Turf, tracking the pace while unhurried until mid-turn, closing powerfully in the 5-path and winning despite lugging in repeatedly in the stretch. She withstood an objection claim, but if she can maintain a straighter course, she can repeat.
CD 11th race (5:51 EST) – The featured $1.3 million Kentucky Oaks (G-1) has myriad possibilities, so hit the ‘ALL’ button in the Pick 4. Morning-line favorite WET PAINT rallied from far back to win going away in back-to-back G-III stakes route races at Oaklawn Park but offers little value. On the contrary, the three G-I winners in the field --WONDER WHEEL, AND TELL ME NOLIES and DEFINING PURPOSE – are double-digit odds. SOUTHLAWN and AFFIRMATIVE LADY arrive off G-II upset wins at 1-1/16 miles, while MIMI KAKUSHI arrives from Dubai for her seasonal debut with three consecutive stakes wins from outside posts. All that being said, I think THE ALYS LOOK is the liveliest price play in the field. She was no match for SOUTHLAWN in the Fair Grounds Oaks, but she progressed steadily before then and kept a busy – and strong – work tab since then. She is one of three entrants for two-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox, who won the Oaks in 2018 and 2020.
Suggested 50-cent Ticket
CD 8th Race: 11
CD 9th Race: 1, 2, 10
CD 10th Race: 9, 11
CD 11th Race: ALL
Cost for 50-Cent Ticket: $42