by JOHN MUCCIOLO
The Friday card at Churchill Downs is a fine one, led by six graded stakes races. Race 11 is the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (G1), and I will tab a Pick 4 play concluding with the feature.
I mentioned my affection for #3 ALWAYS DREAMING in a previous posting and I will single the 2017 Derby winner to get things started. Pletcher pupil has a pace edge on his major foes and I expect him to lead at very call.
First-level allowance race is a tough one and could get me a good price. #6 DEVINE MISCHIEF is my top pick. Joe Sharp trainee looked good in a maiden score two back and followed it up with a nice runner-up showing at Keeneland most recently. $450,000 auction buy is coming into her own currently.
Debut special weight winners #2 ELECTRIC FOREST and #3 C P QUALITY get my respect. And I also give a chance to #5 MAHO BAY, who beat claiming foes in her bow, Mark Casse’s #7 BEAUTIFUL STREET, as well as Canadian invader #8 SHE’S THE BERRIES for Brian Lynch.
Sensational Grade 1 heroine #11 RUSHING FALL, queen of the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) in the fall, is the obvious one to beat in the Edgewood S. (G3). Daughter of More Than Ready has been sublime with four consecutive wins to start her career and beat a real good one at Keeneland last time.
Rushing Fall drew widest of the 11 in her local debut, so maybe it’s worth trying to knock her off. The Chad Brown charge will be a single on many tickets and defeating her will bolster the return in a big way.
#3 ALTEA ran a big one in her U.S. debut and gives Brown a potential stranglehold in the affair. Bay was a neck shy of going last-to-first in the Florida Oaks (G3).
Neil Drysdale’s #7 TOINETTE owns the top last-out BRIS Speed number for her allowance tally at Keeneland making her quite usable. A winner of two straight, Scat Daddy filly has improved with every lifetime start and got a work over this turf course last week. #10 HEAVENLY LOVE is a Grade 1 heroine who went off form for a while. But she ran fairly well late in the Appalachian (G2) in her return to the lawn last time. Mark Casse trainee will wake up and fire huge one of these days.
The Kentucky Oaks is a two-horse race as far as the morning-line goes. #10 MIDNIGHT BISOU has been the queen of the West Coast, while #14 MONOMOY GIRL has decimated her foes throughout the Midwest. But each drew wider post slots and the Speed numbers are not especially imposing. I will use three in addition to them.
#5 WONDER GADOT looked like a star in her lone run at today’s distance, 1 1/8 miles. Casse pupil romped in the Demoiselle (G2) last season and could be sitting on a big race. Her consistency is obvious, and I liked her prep run in the Fantasy Stakes (G3).
Bob Baffert will saddle Dubai import #7 RAYYA, second to Mendelssohn in the UAE Derby (G2). Chestnut is a mystery but the connections make her attractive at a big price.
#11 MY MISS LILLY tops the field with a 99 BRIS Speed number last time, which was her two-turn debut. Daughter of Tapit will thrive at the distance and could receive a favorable pace set-up beneath Joe Bravo.
If I can knock off Rushing Fall, as well as the favored duo in the Oaks, this ticket will be a whopping one. Good Luck!!
50-cent Pick 4: 3 with 2,3,5,6,7,8 with 3,7,10,11 with 5,7,10,11,14 = $60
Always Dreaming photo by Lauren J. Pomeroy/Horsephotos.com