Great Britain & Ireland Preview: Irish Oaks Day

July 15th, 2022

It’s Irish Oaks day at The Curragh, and TwinSpires is marking it with a BetBack offer on all races. For those who opt in, you can get up to $10 back for your win bet for fields with six or more runners if your horse finishes second.

In addition to the Oaks, the card features a Group 2, a Group 3, and a rich handicap. Here are some suggested spot plays for the four big races.

Race 2, 9:03 a.m. ET: Anglesey S. (G3), 6 1/2 furlongs, 2-year-olds

This looks to be a battle between #2 Little Big Bear, winner of the five-furlong Windsor Castle S. at Royal Ascot, and the filly #6 Badb, an impressive winner two starts back who then fought strongly for second behind Statuette in the Airlie Stud (G2). Given Little Big Bear’s only defeat was at his sole start beyond five furlongs, I’m going to go for the filly.

  • $10 win/$30 place: #6 Badb ($40)

Race 3, 9:35 a.m. ET: Paddy Power Scurry Handicap, 6 1/2 furlongs, 3-year-olds and up

As they always seem, this handicap looks competitive and should produce good odds. Many of these horses ran in the Sherry Fitzgerald Country Homes Handicap June 26 at The Curragh, won by #15 Coumshingaun; she looks to be a progressive three-year-old, but the horse that was 1 3/4 lengths behind in second place, #14 Nordic Passage, is 15 pounds better off at the weights and looks a great chance to turn the tables.

However, my main selection is #3 Mr Wagyu, who as a seven-year-old is in the best form of his life. He won the Tokyo Trophy Handicap at Epsom two starts back, prior to finishing a very solid fourth in the top-quality Wokingham Handicap at Royal Ascot. This is not up to that strength.

Other chances include #1 Gustavus Weston, #5 Andreas Vesalius, #6 Big Gossey, #9 Lord Dudley, and #12 Neo Soul.

  • $10 win/$30 show: #3 Mr Wagyu ($40)
  • $1 trifecta: 3, 14 with 3, 14, 15 with 1, 3, 5, 6, 9, 12, 14, 15 ($24)

Race 4, 10:10 a.m. ET: Sapphire S. (G2), 5 furlongs, 3-year-olds and up

An interesting line-up for this sprint, with seven three-year-olds taking on two high-quality older horses. One of those older horses, #2 Mooneista, is the likely favorite after finishing fourth to Nature Strip in the King’s Stand (G1), just three-quarters of a length behind runner-up Twilight Calls. She should go a great race.

However, I’m not prepared to give up on #1 Equilateral. He was just a neck behind Mooneista that day, and in his intervening race he was checked and had no luck when sixth in the Coral Charge (G3) at Sandown. With Frankie Dettori picking up the ride he’s worth a shot.

The three-year-olds look interesting; last year’s Middle Park (G1) runner-up #4 Castle Star makes his seasonal reappearance, while #7 Brostaigh is fresh from winning the Prix du Gros-Chene (G2) at Chantilly June 5. But I’m going to stick with the older horses.

  • $10 win/$30 show: #1 Equilateral ($40)
  • $1 trifecta: 1, 2 with 1, 2, 4 with 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 ($16)

Race 5, 10:45 a.m. ET: Irish Oaks (G1), 1 1/2 miles, 3-year-old fillies

With Epsom Oaks (G1) winner Tuesday ruled out, the tough-beat Oaks runner-up #3 Emily Upjohn looked like a good thing in this Irish equivalent. But the heavy favorite is unable to make it to the Curragh due to travel issues.

Ribblesdale (G2) winner #6 Magical Lagoon is the most obvious beneficiary, and she clearly stays 1 1/2 miles. However, a better prospect may be #2 Emily Dickinson. She put up a fantastic performance against older fillies and mares to just go down to Rosscarbery in the Stanerra (G3) at Leopardstown July 7, and though this race is two furlongs shorter, she should appreciate the tougher Curragh track.

#5 History should go another honest race, as should #1 Cairde Go Deo, who is going for three consecutive victories. Don’t dismiss #8 Toy either, now that she’s back in her home country.

  • $10 win/$30 place #2 Emily Dickinson ($40)
  • $1 trifecta: 2, 6 with 1, 2, 6 with all ($20)