Hanson: 2024 Kentucky Oaks Day spot plays

May 1st, 2024

Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill Downs figures to be a spectacular appetizer ahead of the bigger Saturday program, though an unfavorable forecast will perhaps put a slight damper on things. At this writing there is an 80% chance of precipitation, and how that will affect conditions remains to be seen.

Regardless, here are the major horses of interest for me on the 13-race card:

Race 4: Allowance (12:05 p.m. ET)

Although you wouldn't know it taking a quick glance at her past performances, #10 Stir Crazy (10-1) does appear to have improved since being claimed at Saratoga last summer by trainer Mike Maker. In her debut for the barn last September at this level over this course, she finished second in between two next-out winners after getting little help pace-wise.

Stir Crazy has managed only one interim start on the grass, another second-place finish at Tampa Bay Downs, and her recent form is arguably clouded a bit by a nondescript try over Tapeta at Turfway and a mixed record in a pair of off-the-turf races. Her best looks competitive in this spot and the price should be right.

Race 5: La Troienne (G1) (12:43 p.m. ET)

Ostensibly billed as a showdown between two champions, Idiomatic and Pretty Mischievous, the La Troienne has another serious player in #6 Xigera (3-1), who passed several eye tests last fall when romping to three consecutive stakes wins, including the Falls City (G3) over this track.

Granted, Xigera was not facing anything like the quality of foes she meets here, but she remains with tremendous upside and hopefully will offer a touch more value than the two Eclipse Award winners.

Race 6: Unbridled Sidney S. (1:26 p.m. ET)

Breeders' Cup Day was simply not a good one for #10 Tony Ann (8-1), who was never competitive in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1) after a slow start. Back with fillies and mares here, she earned a feather in her cap two starts back in the Franklin (G2) by defeating 2022 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1) winner Caravel, who was a bit past her prime but still no slouch that day at Keeneland. The back class is obviously there and trainer Phil D'Amato can have Tony Ann ready to fire off the bench.

Race 11: Kentucky Oaks (G1) (5:51 p.m. ET)

A fascinating edition of the Kentucky Oaks, and I was really impressed by the step forward taken by #14 Leslie's Rose (4-1) when dominating the Ashland (G1) by three lengths. Granted, she worked out a great trip and might not have the same luxury here breaking from post 14. But this filly looks to be a huge player in the division this year and trainer Todd Pletcher, who has won this race four times already, has never done so with a filly who hasn't been of championship caliber.

MUCCIOLO: Tipsheet: 2024 Kentucky Oaks

Race 12: Allowance (6:27 p.m. ET)

The other second-time starters in the field, who are likely to attract more play, ran faster on debut than #6 Mink's Palace (15-1). But I like the fact this one got an earlier start to her career when she graduated by 1 1/4 lengths last November over eventual Honeybee (G3) winner and Oaks participant Lemon Muffin, who clearly needed more than six furlongs.

Saez climbs back aboard this daughter of Palace Malice, whose recent works are encouraging for the capable Eddie Kenneally barn.