Final Kentucky Oaks works round-up: Notes and quotes from coast-to-coast

A total of 13 sophomore fillies put in their final major morning preparations over the past week in advance of Friday’s $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs. Grade 2 princess Positive Spirit previously drilled a bullet four panels in :47.20 at Keeneland on Sunday, April 21, the best of 33 works at the distance.

Two-time Grade 2 winner Serengeti Empress also impressed in her final tune-up, scorching five furlongs in a bullet :58.20 at Churchill Downs on Tuesday, April 23 for trainer Tom Amoss.


At Churchill Downs, Grade 1 heroine Restless Rider breezed a half-mile in :49.60 in her final move for the Oaks. Trainer Kenny McPeek was “pleased” with how his consistently very good filly traveled, as she clocked fractions of :12, :23.80, :36.80 and going out in 1:03.20 for five-eighths.

Restless Rider, the co-second choice in the field, was second in the recent Ashland Stakes (G1) in her sophomore debut.

“This next race is going to be an improved race off that first race of the year,” McPeek said. “She’s ready to do that.”


Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) victress Champagne Anyone completed her major preparations for the race with a half-mile move in :48 at Churchill Downs. She established fractions of :12.40 and :24.60 before eventually galloping out in 1:00.80 for five furlongs.

The Ian Wilkes charge is the co-second choice on the morning line, and her latest drill left both trainer and jockey Chris Landeros in a positive mood.

“It was perfect,” Wilkes said. “She has had a good four weeks here and as long as I don’t mess anything up the next four days, we are fine.”

“Every time I get on this filly, she gives me more confidence I can win the Oaks,” Landeros said.

Fantasy Stakes (G3) winner Lady Apple traveled four furlongs on the Churchill main surface in :49.80 in advance of her biggest test to date. The Steve Asmussen trainee worked in solo fashion and went in :12.40, :25 and :37.20, eventually galloping out five furlongs in 1:04.80.

Also at Churchill Downs, Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) star Street Band posted :12.60, :24.40, :37, :48.40 and 1:00.20, going out in 1:13.60 for three-quarters of a mile under regular rider Sophie Doyle. The filly races for conditioner Larry Jones, who has saddled a trio of Kentucky Oaks winners since 2008.

Doyle had a very positive outlook following the final major breeze for Street Band.

“She moved well out there,” the 31-year-old rider said. “She gave me a great feel.”


Two Oaks contenders got in a final morning work in advance of the Friday feature. Honeybee Stakes (G3) queen Chocolate Kisses clocked four furlongs in :48 beneath Julien Leparoux. The Mark Casse pupil worked in company and posted splits of :12.40 and :24.40, with a five-furlong gallop out in 1:01.

“I thought she worked super,” Casse said. “Julien was aboard; Julien is going to ride her in the Oaks. He said ‘she loves this place.’”

The twice-raced Dunbar Road is currently on the also-eligible list waiting for a defection to draw into the Oaks field. The talented Chad Brown trainee stopped the timer in 1:01.60 for five-eighths. The Quality Road filly earned splits of :13, :25.20, :36.80 and :49.40, before galloping out six panels in 1:14.80.

“She breezed great, we worked her and everything went as planned,” Brown said. “Everything is perfect now all we can do is wait to see if there are any defections.”


Multiple Grade 1 star and Oaks favorite Bellafina posted her final drill in anticipation of Friday at Santa Anita Park. The daughter of Quality Road clocked five furlongs in 1:01 to the pleasure of conditioner Simon Callaghan.

“She came out of her work very well,” Callaghan noted. “We didn’t ask her to do too much; she’s been on a good path and we want to keep her going. We’re happy with where we are.”

Santa Anita Oaks (G1) runner-up Flor de la Mar scorched five furlongs from the gate in a bullet :59.80, the swiftest of the 46 morning moves at Santa Anita on Friday for trainer Bob Baffert.

“I mean we’re taking a shot. I think she’ll be better down the road,” Baffert said. “She’ll have to really step it up but the way she worked the other day (was impressive).”

At Churchill Downs, the speedy Motion Emotion registered a half-mile breeze in :49.80 over a surface labeled good. The Thomas Van Berg charge worked on her own and recorded fractions of :12.20 and :24.60, before eventually galloping out five furlongs in 1:03 under Tyler Baze.

“It was absolutely beautiful,” said Baze, who was aboard the Fantasy Stakes (G3) runner-up for the first time. “She made a favorable impression.”

Motion Emotion is expected to be part of a busy front end in the Oaks.

The Wayne Catalano-trained Liora also drilled beneath the Twin Spires and was credited with five furlongs in :59.60. The Candy Ride filly comes into the Oaks off consecutive runner-up finishes at Fair Grounds in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) and Rachel Alexandra Stakes (G2).

Blinkers were added to the filly for her latest start, and the equipment change has moved the hard-trying dark bay forward.

“She was way more focused today,” said Florent Geroux, who was aboard for her morning spin. “She puts way more into her works. The blinkers definitely helped because she has a tendency of wandering around a bit at the end. Not getting tired, but just losing her focus a bit.”


Ashland Stakes (G1) upsetter Out For a Spin put forth her final serious Oaks work over a muddy surface at Churchill Downs. The Hard Spun filly set splits of :12.20, :24.40 and :37 prior to completing her move in :49.80.

The drill pleased conditioner Dallas Stewart, who thought it was “perfect.” The Grade 1 heroine will receive a rider change to Irad Ortiz Jr. on Friday.

Champion Jaywalk, who dominated the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) on this course in the fall, is sending signals that she will be a filly to deal with in the Oaks. The daughter of Cross Traffic ran a creditable third in the recent Ashland Stakes (G1) at Keeneland and Friday will mark her third start in 2019.

The lass recorded a bullet five furlongs on the Keeneland main surface in :59.20 and received praise from Tyler Servis, the son of conditioner John Servis.

“That was exactly what we wanted,” Tyler Servis stated. “She left the five-furlong marker like a bear. She left there running. I had her in :11 3/5 for the first eighth. She looked like she wanted to do it. She galloped out really well.”

At Gulfstream Park, Davona Dale Stakes (G2) stunner Jeltrin worked five furlongs out of the gate in 1:00.33. The bay daughter of Tapizar has shown steady improvement in 2019 and has could be a live Oaks longshot in his first voyage outside of the Sunshine State.

Conditioner Alexis Delgado said of her final morning move, “Perfect work; we’re ready to ship.”

PHOTO: Restless Rider posts her final major move on Monday, May 29, ahead of the 2019 Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs (c) Coady Photography/Churchill Downs

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2019 Kentucky Oaks Field with odds


1 Out for a Spin Dallas Stewart Irad Ortiz Jr. 15-1
2 Chocolate Kisses Mark Casse Julien Leparoux 20-1
3 Lady Apple Steve Asmussen Ricardo Santana Jr. 20-1
4 Bellafina Simon Callaghan Flavien Prat 2-1
5 Flor de La Mar Bob Baffert Joel Rosario 20-1
6 Positive Spirit Rodolphe Brisset Manuel Franco 30-1
7 Jaywalk John Servis Javier Castellano 8-1
8 Motion Emotion Thomas Van Berg Mike Smith 15-1
9 Liora Wayne Catalano Channing Hill 20-1
10 Champagne Anyone Ian Wilkes Chris Landeros 6-1
11 Jeltrin Alesix Delgado Luis Saez 15-1
12 Street Band Larry Jones Sophie Doyle 15-1
13 Serengeti Empress Tom Amoss Jose Ortiz 8-1
14 Restless Rider Kenny McPeek Brian Hernandez Jr. 6-1
AE Dunbar Road Chad Brown 5-1
AE Point of Honor George Weaver 30-1
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2019 Kentucky Oaks preps selections for April 6

A huge day of racing for three-year-olds will take place on Saturday. A trio of vital Road to the Kentucky Derby points’ races will be contested with the Santa Anita Derby (G1), Wood Memorial Stakes (G2) and Blue Grass Stakes (G2) leading the way.

While much of the focus will be on the boys, a trio of races on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks will be held, as well. I will take a look at each of the affairs for the ladies.


Two-time Grade 1 queen Bellafina (#5) (2-5) is the clear one to beat in the five-horse field. The Simon Callaghan charge is five-for-seven lifetime with five graded victories, including a game tally in the Las Virgenes Stakes (G2) in her latest assignment.

The daughter of Quality Road gets a dream post outside of her four foes to give regular rider Flavien Prat options from the opening bell. She will be formidable with something close to her best performance.

Trainer Bob Baffert has a pair of fillies in the field, and I think his lightly raced Flor de La Mar (#1) (5-1) is intriguing. The $500,000 daughter of Tiznow was a stylish winner on debut prior to an unplaced allowance run over a sloppy surface against allowance foes.

The Godolphin colorbearer is training in sharp fashion in advance of the Oaks. Also, the move to two turns is more than likely going to move the sophomore forward.


Six fillies will travel 1 1/8 miles on the Aqueduct main surface in this Kentucky Oaks (G1) prep. Positive Spirit (#4) (5-2) has a lot going for her in this spot and she will be tough to upend with her best showing.

The Rodolphe Brisset trainee didn’t fire a lick when beaten 25 lengths in her seasonal debut in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds. However, the bay daughter of Pioneerof the Nile was a 10-length heroine of the Demoiselle Stakes (G2) on this surface in her 2018 finale. In addition, the Kentucky-bred looks like controlling speed in a field with no early pace.


The 1 1/16-mile affair is easily the deepest of the trio of Oaks preps. Eight will go postward in a highly competitive race. I have a lot of respect for champion Jaywalk (#4) (8-5) and Grade 1 queen Restless Rider (#6) (5-2), who finished one-two in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). However, I view the Chad Brown-trained Feedback (#5) (3-1) as the “now” horse.

Feedback is unbeaten from two lifetime races, including a solid tally in the Forward Gal Stakes (G3) in her seasonal debut. According to her trainer, the filly was not fully fit for the race. “I’m happy and relieved,” Brown said, “because this horse I really didn’t have quite enough works into her where I really wanted to run her quite yet.”

The Forward Gal has come back strong, with third-place finisher Champagne Anyone since winning the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) and fourth-placer Jeltrin upsetting the Davona Dale Stakes (G2).

PHOTO: Bellafina and jockey Flavien Prat win the Las Virgenes Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park on February 9, 2019 (c) Benoit Photo

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All Other 3-Year-Olds, Bellafina close as favorites in Kentucky Derby, Oaks Future Wagers

The only Kentucky Oaks Future Wager (KOFW) ran concurrently with the third of four Kentucky Derby Future Wager (KDFW) pools from March 8-10, and each closed at 6 p.m. (ET) on Sunday.

The Mutuel Field, or “All Other 3-Year-Olds (#24),” ended up favored at 9-2 after opening Pool 3 of the KDFW at 4-1.

Game Winner (#7) and Improbable (#11) were the only other betting interests to close at single-digit odds. The duo, expected to make their sophomore debuts in the Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park on March 16, each ended up 6-1, though Improbable was slightly favored over his fellow Bob Baffert stablemate.


1 Anothertwistafate 50-1 38-1 $78.80
2 Bourbon War 12-1 12-1 $27.80
3 Code of Honor 8-1 14-1 $31.60
4 Country House 50-1 29-1 $61.00
5 Dream Maker 50-1 56-1 $114.40
6 Galilean 50-1 22-1 $47.40
7 Game Winner 5-1 6-1 $14.20
8 Gunmetal Gray 30-1 43-1 $89.00
9 Harvey Wallbanger 30-1 33-1 $69.40
10 Hidden Scroll 12-1 11-1 $25.40
11 Improbable 8-1 6-1 $14.00
12 Instagrand 10-1 17-1 $36.40
13 Intrepid Heart 50-1 63-1 $129.80
14 Mind Control 30-1 55-1 $113.60
15 Mucho Gusto 20-1 27-1 $56.40
16 Roadster 15-1 16-1 $35.80
17 Signalman 30-1 38-1 $79.60
18 Spinoff 50-1 36-1 $74.40
19 Tax 30-1 59-1 $120.60
20 Vekoma 20-1 37-1 $76.40
21 War of Will 10-1 12-1 $27.00
22 Well Defined 50-1 216-1 $435.40
23 Win Win Win 50-1 34-1 $71.40
24 All Other 3-Year-Olds 4-1 9-2 $11.80

The KOFW saw Bellafina (#1) draw the most attention when wagering concluded. The multiple Grade 1-winning miss saw her morning-line price of 5-1 drop to 9-2 by pool close. The “All Other 3-Year-Old Fillies (#24)” interest was bet down to 5-1 after opening at 8-1.

The only other final single-digit odds in the Oaks Future Wager came courtesy of champion Jaywalk (#10) and Grade 1 vixen Chasing Yesterday (#4). The former, winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), saw her 8-1 morning line drop to 7-1 while the latter, who is a half-sister to Triple Crown hero American Pharoah, remained opened and closed at 8-1.

The fourth and final Kentucky Derby Future Wager is scheduled for April 5-7.


1 Bellafina 5-1 9-2 $11.80
2 Brill 30-1 25-1 $53.00
3 Champagne Anyone 20-1 51-1 $105.60
4 Chasing Yesterday 8-1 8-1 $19.40
5 Dunbar Road 20-1 18-1 $38.80
6 Enaya Alrabb 15-1 12-1 $27.60
7 Eres Tu 30-1 83-1 $168.60
8 Feedback 20-1 20-1 $42.60
9 Graceful Princess 50-1 83-1 $168.20
10 Jaywalk 8-1 7-1 $17.20
11 Jeltrin 15-1 62-1 $127.00
12 Liora 15-1 65-1 $133.60
13 Marathon Queen 50-1 113-1 $229.40
14 Mother Mother 10-1 31-1 $65.40
15 Motion Emotion 50-1 24-1 $51.40
16 Orra Moor 50-1 43-1 $88.80
17 Point of Honor 30-1 11-1 $25.60
18 Power Gal 50-1 97-1 $196.20
19 Queen of Beas 50-1 49-1 $100.00
20 Restless Rider 8-1 13-1 $29.80
21 Serengeti Empress 10-1 11-1 $24.80
22 Tasting the Stars 50-1 137-1 $276.40
23 Violencia 50-1 56-1 $114.60
24 All Other 3-Year-Old Fillies 8-1 5-1 $12.00
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Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 3, Oaks Future Wager fields set

Pool 3 of the 2019 Kentucky Derby Future Wager (KDFW) and this year’s only Kentucky Oaks Future Wager (KOFW) will run concurrently beginning Friday at noon (EST). The Derby Future Wager will close at 6 p.m. (EDT) on Sunday, while the Oaks Future Wager runs that evening until 6:30 p.m.

Click here for FREE Brisnet Past Performances for the Kentucky Derby Future Wager.

Odds-maker Mike Battaglia installed “All Other 3-Year-Olds” (#24) as the early 4-1 choice in the field for the Derby Future Wager. The individual interests are led by reigning juvenile champion Game Winner (#7, 5-1), followed by Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) winner Improbable (#11, 8-1) and recent Fountain of Youth (G2) winner Code of Honor (#3, 8-1).

Both Game Winner and Improbable are expected to race in Saturday’s San Felipe (G2) at Santa Anita. In addition to the San Felipe, other Road to the Kentucky Derby series preps on Saturday are the Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct, the Tampa Bay Derby (G2), and the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) at Turfway Park.

1. Anothertwistafate 50-1
2. Bourbon War 12-1
3. Code of Honor 8-1
4. Country House 50-1
5. Dream Maker 50-1
6. Galilean 50-1
7. Game Winner 5-1
8. Gunmetal Gray 30-1
9. Harvey Wallbanger 30-1
10. Hidden Scroll 12-1
11. Improbable 8-1
12. Instagrand 10-1
13. Intrepid Heart 50-1
14. Mind Control 30-1
15. Mucho Gusto 20-1
16. Roadster 15-1
17. Signalman 30-1
18. Spinoff 50-1
19. Tax 30-1
20. Vekoma 20-1
21. War of Will 10-1
22. Well Defined 50-1
23. Win Win Win 50-1
24. All Other 3-Year-Olds 4-1

In the Oaks future wager, five-time graded stakes winner Bellafina (#1) was made the 5-1 favorite with four betting interests as 8-1 co-second choices: Chasing Yesterday (#4), juvenile filly champion Jaywalk (#10), Restless Rider (#20) and “All Other 3-Year-Old Fillies” (#24).

Click here for FREE Brisnet Past Performances for the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager.

There are four Road to the Kentucky Oaks series preps this weekend. The Busher at Aqueduct, Honeybee (G3) at Oaklawn Park, and Bourbonette Oaks at Turfway Park will be held Saturday, while the Santa Ysabel (G3) at Santa Anita will be run Sunday.

1. Bellafina 5-1
2. Brill 30-1
3. Champagne Anyone 20-1
4. Chasing Yesterday 8-1
5. Dunbar Road 20-1
6. Enaya Alrabb 15-1
7. Eres Tu 30-1
8. Feedback 20-1
9. Graceful Princess 50-1
10. Jaywalk 8-1
11. Jeltrin 15-1
12. Liora 15-1
13. Marathon Queen 50-1
14. Mother Mother 10-1
15. Motion Emotion 50-1
16. Orra Moor 50-1
17. Point of Honor 30-1
18. Power Gal 50-1
19. Queen of Beas 50-1
20. Restless Rider 8-1
21. Serengeti Empress 10-1
22. Tasting the Stars 50-1
23. Violencia 50-1
24. All Other 3-Year-Old Fillies 8-1

The Kentucky Derby Future Wager and Kentucky Oaks Future Wager feature $2 minimum Win and Exacta wagering and provide fans with opportunities to place bets on possible entrants at odds that could be far greater than those available on the day of the race. Fans will also be able to bet an Oaks/Derby Future Double this weekend.

Bets can be placed at Churchill Downs, and other online wagering outlets and satellite wagering centers across North America. There are no refunds in the future wagers. Should Churchill Downs officials determine during the duration of the three-day pool that one of the wagering interests has experienced an injury, illness or other circumstance that would prevent the horse from participating in the Kentucky Derby or Kentucky Oaks, betting on the individual horse will be suspended immediately.

Additional information and real-time odds are available online at

After this weekend, the fourth and final Kentucky Derby future wager pool will be April 5-7.

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Bellafina keeps options open with Triple Crown nomination

Kaleem Shah’s star filly Bellafina is expected to remain in her own division on the path toward the Kentucky Oaks (G1), but connections have retained the option of taking on males.

The Simon Callaghan trainee was nominated to the Triple Crown by the deadline this past Saturday, and she’s been added to the nominations for the April 6 Santa Anita Derby (G1) as well.

Before getting too far ahead of ourselves, however, the current plan is still to stick to the Oaks trail.

“Fillies for the moment,” Callaghan said. “Just wanted the option.”

The leading two-year-old filly of 2018 going into the Breeders’ Cup, Bellafina thrashed her rivals in the Sorrento (G2), Del Mar Debutante (G1), and Chandelier (G1). She was accordingly dispatched as the 9-5 favorite in the Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Churchill Downs, only to run an uncharacteristic fourth, and subsequently found to be in season.

Returning to action with a breathtaking display in the January 6 Santa Ynez (G2), Bellafina served notice that she could be even better this year. Indeed, the strapping daughter of Quality Road – sire of Saturday’s Pegasus World Cup (G1) winner City of Light and 2017 Oaks champion Abel Tasman – is entitled to progress with maturity.

And that’s food for thought. The “Should Bellafina join the Kentucky Derby (G1) trail” discussion figures to gain steam if she romps in her next race, likely the February 9 Las Virgenes (G2).

Yet even if the Triple Crown option is left unexplored, Bellafina could be just the type to try her mettle versus the boys later on in her career.

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Jockey Eclipse Award belongs to Ortiz…but which one?

The Eclipse Award for jockeys is almost as tough as it was for trainers. The winner will definitely be named Ortiz but the question is, which one? Irad Jr. or Jose?

At first glance, Irad is the leader in total earnings and wins. That combination is usually more than enough. However, when you look at graded stakes wins, a different picture emerges.

Jose won the most graded races (35) for the year while Irad triumphed in 30. Then, when you narrow it down further to Grade 1s, Mike Smith won 13, Joel Rosario took 12 and Jose captured 10. Irad was tied for seventh place with six Grade 1 victories.

So, the numbers are jumbled and I am forced to go with the “eye” test. In this case, I have to go with Jose, who was sensational all year. He was spot on in the big races and has become a rider without weakness, able to handle any surface or distance.

It’s close but I am going with: 1) Jose Ortiz 2) Irad Ortiz Jr. and 3) Mike Smith.

The Eclipse Award for owners is complicated by the multi-layered partnership arrangements now in vogue. Instead of competing against each other, many have joined forces. What makes it even more confusing is that a horse may run with different owner silks in different races, so there is not always the visual connection of horse and owner silks that we used to have.

I voted for: 1) WinStar, China Horse Club, Starlight Stables and Head of Plains 2) Peter Brant 3) Hronis Racing.

Ignoring the one-race-in-America international horses leaves me with very few choices in the male turf horse category. Luckily, turf sprinting has some a long way and STORMY LIBERAL finished the season with four straight wins, including another Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) victory, to nose out the competition.

With those explanations out of the way, here is my complete ballot:


  • Justify
  • Accelerate
  • Monomoy Girl


  • Game Winner
  • Call Paul
  • Complexity


  • Jaywalk
  • Newspaperofrecord
  • Bellafina


  • Justify
  • Catholic Boy
  • McKinzie


  • Monomoy Girl
  • Midnight Bisou
  • Rushing Fall


  • Accelerate
  • City of Light
  • Diversify


  • Unique Bella
  • Abel Tasman
  • Marley’s Freedom


  • Roy H
  • Promises Fulfilled
  • Imperial Hint


  • Marley’s Freedom
  • Shamrock Rose
  • Dream Tree


  • Stormy Liberal
  • Catapult
  • Glorious Empire


  • Sister Charlie
  • A Raving Beauty
  • Uni


  • Optimus Prime
  • Zanjabeel
  • Balance the Budget


  • WinStar, China Horse Club, Starlight Stables, Head of Plains
  • Peter Brant
  • Hronis Racing


  • John Gunther
  • Hertrich & Fielding
  • Stonestreet


  • Jose Ortiz
  • Irad Ortiz Jr.
  • Mike Smith


  • Weston Hamilton
  • Reylu Gutierrez
  • Edgar Morales


  • Bob Baffert
  • Chad Brown
  • Steve Asmussen

Photo: Brother jockeys Jose Ortiz (left) and Irad Ortiz Jr. (right) (c) NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography/Adam Mooshian

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