In 2009, Rachel Alexandra used her prep race for the Kentucky Oaks, – The Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park – to give a taste of what she was capable of by winning that race by 8 and 3/4 lengths. In the Kentucky Oaks, Rachel Alexandra followed that up with an absolute tour de force, winning the filly version of the Kentucky Derby by 20 and 1/4 lengths. Few were surprised by the victory, but many were astounded by the manner in which she made a mockery of the field that day.
Fast forward four years and the same owners of Rachel Alexandra, Stonerstreet Stables are sitting on another possible keg of dynamite in the 2013 Kentucky Oaks. The only difference this time is whether we have already seen that tour de force or will there be a magnum opus in store on Friday, May 3rd. The tour de force being the Gulfstream Park Oaks and the keg of dynamite is Dreaming of Julia. The Gulfstream Park Oaks; was used by the daughter of A.P. Indy to avenge a loss she took a month earlier to Live Lively in the Davona Dale Stakes. Running her second race off a layoff, Dreaming of Julia won by an astounding 21 and 3/4 lengths. In addition to that, she ran 2 seconds faster than the boys in the Florida Derby (which was also run that day) and earned an impressive 114 Beyer Speed Figure which puts her right up there with older handicap division horses like Flat Out, Game On Dude and Ron the Greek.
So the questions going into this Fridays Kentucky Oaks will be.
Can she duplicate this effort? Certainly Dreaming of Julia is very capable of repeating a similar race. She will be running only her third race of the year so she is far from exhausted from a long campaign. Of course in horse racing like any sport whenever an athlete gives a big effort there is always chance for a ‘bounce’ or a let down. However if she does run back to that form and wins by 20+ lengths, earning bigger speed figure than before, the race for horse of the year could be all sewn up before they run the Kentucky Derby. In other words, it’s possible, and she would earn the moniker ‘super horse’ till well into her breeding career.
If she regresses even a little bit, can she be beaten and by whom? This is the big question for bettors. Dreaming of Julia will go off as the post time favorite, but even a short glance at the past performances will show that this is a very competitive race, with some really good horses.
Midnight Lucky, the buzz horse going into this week has impressed in the morning drills with a series of very sharp workouts. The Bob Baffert trained three year old is out of two time Breeders Cup Sprint Champion, Midnight Lute. There is no doubt that Midnight Lucky possesses a ton of talent, but with only two lifetime races, she will have a lot thrown at her in this race. However if jockey Rafael Bejarano can utilize her speed from the 2 post, she can save a lot of ground and be live as they turn for home.
Shipping in from the west coast is Beholder, the 2012 Breeders Cup Juvenile Filly champ, in that race she defeated the aforementioned Dreaming of Julia. This daughter of Henny Hughes has won five of eight lifetime races and has shown top level speed. The only problem is that she may be bred for shorter distances as her daddy was a champion sprinter. Beholder has won all her races out west on very speed favoring tracks and has enjoyed very easy leads, this race on paper shows nothing but speed. If Beholder is going to upset this race she will have to overcome the torrid pace and a completely different race track.
Unlimited Budget is undefeated in four lifetime races. She past all her tests at the Fairgrounds this winter. There she showed that she can rate professionally and make a winning move when asked. Her last race was the Grade 2, Fairgrounds Oaks where she turned in her most impressive performance, earning a 98 Beyer Speed Figure. The daughter of 07′ Derby winner Street Sense, draws J.J. Castellano into the irons, and any step forward will put her in the mix of the outcome.
Another one who is sure to benefit from a hot pace is Pure Fun, who has run the majority of her races on the synthetic surfaces, but had no problem when trainer Ken McPeek put her on dirt. Back in November at Churchill Downs Pure Fun won an 75K OC by 9 and 1/4 lengths. The place horse in that race came back to win a stakes race at Delta Downs, and Pure Fun went on to win the G1 Hollywood Starlet Stakes after that. Jockey Julian Leparoux who takes the mount, is known for his well timed late moves on the turf. If the pace is honest and Leparoux keeps her out of traffic trouble, well, lets just say she is going to go off at generous odds in this one. The morning-line odds has her at 30-1, the longest shot in the field. Of note, Ken McPeek thought enough of her to put her in the Lexington Stakes, two weeks ago, which is a qualifying prep race for the Kentucky Derby.
Post time: Friday, 5:45 p.m. EST.
Television: NBC Sports 5-6 p.m.
1 Silista, 20-1
2 Midnight Lucky 9-2
3 Beholder 7-2
4 Unlimited Budget 7-2
5 Seaneen Girl 20-1
6 Princess of Sylmar 20-1
7 Pure Fun 30-1
8 Dreaming of Julia 3-1
9 Rose to Gold 15-1
10 Flashy Gray 15-1
11 Close Hatches 6-1