KY Oaks (Grade 1)- $1,250.000 Purse
CD- For Fillies Three Years Old
One Mile and One Eighth on the Dirt
May 6, 2022
It was an interesting year for three year old fillies, that is for certain. This is the race we all hope for when we see that our produced foal was female, but the road to get here is quite difficult. In reality, the KYO is more difficult to get into than the KYD, given the fact the starting gate is not expanded to twenty runners. Here we are, fourteen fillies have reached their destination of making the KYO, congratulations to all of them, because if you get here, you are definitely a champion. It is not the final destination for these horses, obviously, because the goal will be to win more races which may include the Acorn in a month, and then the BC Distaff in six months. But this season was not the conventional season for this group, and we really began to see that when female horses began winning races over on the male side. For a while, for some, the goal was no longer the KYO, but the KYD, and in February we saw one of those prep races, the Alexandra, only draw a field of six while the companion race, the Risen Star, had five fillies in it. Eventually, we saw the KYD preps run with less and less fillies, and the KYO preps start to fill up more and more. No one will know what kind of impact that trend had on the eventual KYO field, but it’s interesting to note here that there is only one filly in the KYD. In February, several trainers would have banked on having more than that, to say the least. Exactly half of this field ran in some sort of KYD prep, or open stake, within 2022.
Last year, we had a truly special winner of the KYO, as Naples won the race by a length and a half, part of an amazing season that also saw her win the BC Distaff. She’s still around, and is the one that all of these can look up to. Heading into that race, Naples truly was looking like one of the best fillies of the season, and she would show that in the KYO. There’s a few in here who would try to make the case that they are on the same kind of form as Naples was, but I am not sure if we have one quite as good as that coming into the race. It is race time, let’s hope it becomes one to remember, and for the right reasons. Here are the qualifiers!
#1- Derby Connection (Two Hearts One Love, ridden by F T Alvarado)- Took one of the more unusual roads to get here, as she was running at the free track as recently as six weeks ago. Her entire career was spent at either free tracks, or at GRP, showing that races at those tracks aren’t always the “gimmie’s” that some may think they are. At the beginning of April, Two Hearts One Love decided to give his horse a test, making a massive leap from LRL to the Grade 1 Ashland. Derby Connection would win the race, and in rather impressive fashion as well, taking it by two lengths, earning the spot here in the KYO. That is quite a path, and while she did prove that she belongs here with that race, you still have to call her a Cinderella here. Who knows how she might have done if she was racing at pay tracks before that, too.
#2- Curlina (Arindel, ridden by C J Hernandez)- Arindel ends up qualifying two for the KYO as he looks to win this race in consecutive years, a feat accomplished by only Paradise Stable, coming in 2010 and 2011. Curlina made her debut in the Grade 1 Spinaway, something that you do not see a lot of within the game for multiple reasons, but the filly put everyone on notice with a game, fourth place showing there. Eventually, she broke her maiden in a conventional manner and would change stable hands from Fractious to Arindel in late January. She did not have immediate success, but would win the Davona Dale, a Grade 2, in March. Followed that up in a satisfactory manner, but didn’t open eyes in the Fantasy, either.
#3- Main Flirt (Mb Stables, ridden by E Jaramillo)- A day after Fractious sold Curlina to Arindel, he sold Main Flirt to Mb Stables, for the same $450.000 amount that Curlina would go for. And these aren’t the only ones, either, stay tuned. Main Flirt was one of those horses who went to the Risen Star instead of the Alexandra, and ends up being the only one of those fillies to be running here in the KYO. For this filly, it was her first race running in Mb Stables, and she was fifth that day. A month later, she was back at FG, but this time running against her own gender, in the FG Oaks, and she placed second. At times, she has shown an interest in coming from well off the pace, so we’ll see if that is in the cards again.
#4- The Intouchables (Smokey Stover, ridden by A Cedillo)- This is one of the horses that maybe could make an argument that she is on as good of form as Naples was coming into this race last year. Her road to get here saw a lot of running on the turf, with seven of her first eight races coming on the grass, and she was very successful on it. But Smokey Stover was not going to be satisfied with that, and made the right decision to move her to the dirt, running her in the Grade 3 Fantasy, which is the same race Naples came out of in 2021. The Intouchables would win the race, which was her sixth in nine starts.
#5- Karloffs Monster (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by D Davis)- On the jockey side, D Davis will be looking for his third win in a row, and is on an intriguing horse in the KYO. Karloffs Monster has not run in a KYO prep since February, when she was winning the Suncoast. Because of that, her name might be off the radar somewhat when looking at KYO hopefuls. Instead, she has been running against the boys both in the TAM Derby, and in the AR Derby, and ended up second and third in them, each in a photo. How much of that was her own ability, and how much of that was because of the weight allowances that she does not have here. It’s a tough call for bettors to make.
#6- Drilldownfortruth (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by Ru Gonzalez)- While several horses in February were bypassing the Alexandra in favor of the Risen Star or other KYD preps, Drilldownfortruth most definitely not follow the lead of her stablemate, and used to Alexandra to show the virtual world that she was a strong contender for the KYO. Her win that day followed up her victory in the Demoiselle and put her in a position where she was a lock for the KYO. That made the trainer’s decision to run her against the boys in the LA Derby easier, but Drilldownfortruth did not have the same kind of success that Kalroffs Monster was having. As such, she comes into this race off a flat eighth place showing, but got some experience running a mile and three sixteenths, at least.
#7- Paris Broadway (Arindel, ridden by J R Velazquez)- On January 26th, Arindel likely knew that he was acquiring two very good horses, but probably did not think that he was acquiring his two KYO runners that day. It didn’t take as much, just $180.000, to get Paris Broadway from Glorify Stables, but he has done very well with her to turn her around. In fairness to the prior trainer, she hardly ever had a chance to run on a dry track, but responded very well to running over a mile by winning the Davis Stakes against the boys in February. Six weeks later, she run against only fillies, but won again, taking the FG Oaks and will be hoping to put her trainer in the KYO winner’s circle once again.
#8- Exactly (Smokey Stover, ridden by J C Ferrer)- A week after Fractious sold Curlina and Main Flirt, he would do the same with Exactly, finding another big stable looking for a top filly to add to their barn. In total, Fractious made $1,400.000 by selling these three horses to other trainers, so they can fall back on that as they don’t have a runner here. After the sale, Exactly would head to OP (or remain at), and would win the Grade 3 Honeybee by two lengths. A month later, there was nothing wrong with her performance in the Fantasy, placing third in the race. This is a filly that never seems to run poorly, hitting the board in all of her starts that were not her debut race, and she was fourth there, too.
#9- State Star (Our Athletes, ridden by D Van Dyke)- In order to make the KYO, State Star was in a must-win situation in the GP Oaks. She had always run well, but had not been in any KYO-preps for the race beforehand. Previously, she had just one win in second starts, but had always hit the board, so you could see the potential. Then, in the GP Oaks, amid heavy rainfall making the track sloppy, she went long for the first time ended up scoring a length victory. That made her two for two on sloppy tracks, so if it does rain on Friday (of which there is an 83% chance of happening as of now), then her chances seem to be much better.
#10- Bronze Freak (Asgar, ridden by M J Sanchez)- This filly has spent much of her career running with the LA-bred condition, and has been very successful doing so. She would win three of the LA-bred races that are contested during the fall and winter, and that set her up to take on better horses in the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel Stakes, and she would not let her trainer down, getting the win. Followed that up nicely a month later by running third in the Grade 3 Beaumont. Bronze Freak has never finished lower than third, and has won five times in her ten starts with a friendly style of liking stalking trips.
#11- Present Tense (Mb Stables, ridden by M Franco)- While Bronze Freak was running against LA-breds, Present Tense was taking a similar approach in FL-bred races. She’d win two of the FL Sire Stakes races, and their nice purses that go with them, before placing second in the biggest of the three, the My Dear. Not to worry, as she as stepped up to graded competition quite well in winning the Grade 1 Alcibiades. Ran in the middle of the field in the KY Juvenile Fillies, but can hold the surprising distinction of being the only horse in the KYO field that ran in that race! It’s been just as good of a three year old season with her, winning the Holy Bull against the boys, and running second in the Ashland. Gives Mb Stables his best shot at winning this race, I believe.
#12- Wander (Mb Stables, ridden by L Saez)- The third of the Mb Stables trio in this race, and she comes into it hot, winning her last three races. That streak began by winning an optional claimer on the grass at GP, the final time, as of now, that she has run on the turf. She’d head north to AQU for the $250.000 Busher and got the win, and then showed that she was not about to stop there in winning the Grade 3 Gazelle in the mud. Those wins came with very different tactics, as well. There is rain in the forecast for Friday, potentially giving us more reason to like her chances.
#13- Sister Crespi (Nakamura Stables, ridden by V R Carrasco)- The trainer has had several strong KYO contenders over the past few years, but he was close to being shut out of the race this year. Fortunately, he was able to score a win at TP in the Bourbonette Oaks with Sister Crespi, a filly that is still relatively lightly raced. She’s only raced five times, and a recently as late January, she was running in an optional claimer at TUP. A big victory showed that she was ready to run against much better competition. There’s no one else here that ran in the Bourbonette Oaks, so she is likely to be one of the longer shots on the board.
#14- Theres No Dount (Angelos Stable, ridden by Mar Garcia)- Our final filly that qualified for the KYO was one that exchanged hands in a $75.000 maiden claimer in late January, with Angelos Stable banking on the filly to have plenty of upside. She would get just two weeks of rest before running in the Angelos silks, and she responded with a victory in the $100.000 Ruthless. It seems as though this horse that had some trouble breaking her maiden initially just needed to visit the winner’s circle once before she put it all together. She followed the Ruthless up by running third in the Davona Dale, which is proving to be a very good field, and then was second in the Fantasy. Starting from the outside is never the easy path, but she has a very good shot here.