Kentucky Oaks Selections
By Bob Bauer
These selections were made with the expectation of a fast track.
However, the Churchill Downs track is sloppy today as rain continues to fall.
A “mud lark” is included as a fourth selection, as none of the other 3 fillies has experience over a wet surface.
#4 PARADISE WOODS- This lightly raced Miss (only 3 starts) certainly appears to be a filly with a bright future. She ships to Kentucky off a spectacular 11 length rout of a tough field in the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks, on April 8. That was her first try against winners and going a route of ground around 2 turns. The speed figure she earned is several lengths better than the rest in here and makes her the one to beat. The only question is, can she run well outside of her home track in California and can she stretch out another half-furlong? We’ll find out on Friday afternoon. Ace trainer Richard Mandella is one of the best in the business and her only rider Flavian Plat will be in the irons.
#10 MISS SKY WARRIOR- Daughter of First Samurai boasts classy credentials, having won 5 straight races (including 4 Graded Stakes) since her only loss in a Maiden bow last September at Belmont. She is a prefect 2 for 2 at the 9 furlong distance and should be the one to fear if the top choice isn’t up to the task. Regular jockey Paco Lopez returns for 25% trainer Kelly Breen. In her last race, (2nd back after a 3 month break) the Grade II Gazelle Handicap at Aqueduct, they wired the field by 13 lengths under a hand ride. May be in best form now, has had a pair of OK works on Churchill dirt.
#13 ABEL TASMAN- Another California shipper, ran second in the Santa Anita Oaks in her first try for the always-dangerous (40% 2d start winners) Bob Baffert. The bay filly has a 3 for 6 lifetime record, including taking the Grade I Starlet Stakes last December. After that, she was freshened until March and has since garnered a pair of place finishes vs. Graded Stakes rivals. Mike Smith, one of racing’s elite jockeys, takes the return call.
#7 FARRELL- This hard-hitting filly is 5 for 7 lifetime and moves up when the going gets soggy, taking 2 races in 3 attempts on off tracks. She broke her Maiden condition in the wet at Churchill, so there should be no problems here. Rider Channing Hill and Trainer Wayne Catalano bring her back to Louisville after an impressive (3 for 3) campaign at Fairgrounds this winter, capturing a pair of Grade II events, the Fairgrounds Oaks and the Rachael Alexandra. A tough customer in top form.