International Thoroughbred Racing Editor & Handicapper: Geir W. Stabell 1992 - 2020
Oaks contender Cathryn Sophia
Photo: Coglianese / Gulfstream
KENTUCKY DERBY DAY
Woodford Reserve Turf Classic
The Humana Distaff
Pat Day Mile
The Churchill Downs
Churchill Distaff Turf Mile
American Turf Stakes
KENTUCKY OAKS (G1)
Churchill Downs 6 May 2016 – 1 1/8 miles dirt
Runners presented with best Globeform and GF ratings achieved
in most recent runs after name of horse (left-to-right) / riders.
117p - CATHRYN SOPHIA / 116p - 117p – 112p< / J Castellano
114p - WEEP NO MORE / ?p – 102p – 114p / C Lanerie
113p - RACHEL'S VALENTINA / 111p - 110p / 113p / J R Velazquez
112p - GO MAGGIE GO / ?P – 112p / L Saez
112p - LEWIS BAY / 104p / 101p – 112p / I Ortiz Jr
111 - LAND OVER SEA / 107 – 94 / 103p - 107 – 111 / M Gutierrez
110p - TERRA PROMESSA / 110p – 105p / R Santana Jr
106p - ROYAL OBSESSION / ?p - 102p – 106p / F Geroux
106 - PAOLA QUEEN / ?p - ?p – 106 / E Jaramillo
106 - VENUS VALENTINE / ?p - 106 – 90 / S X Bridgmohan
103 - MOKAT / 84p - 98 -100 – 103 / F Prat
103 - MO D'AMOUR / ?p - 103 – 91 / J Rosario
102 - DREAM DANCE / 102 / 101 – 99 / B J Hernandez Jr
100p - TAXABLE / ?p - ?p – 100p / M Smith
CATHRYN SOPHIA was most impressive winning the Forward Gal and Davona Dale at Gulfstream Park, where she outclassed her rivals over 7 furlongs and a mile, recording Globeform 116p and 117p. She was 7 lengths clear of Lewis Bay as they filled the exacta in the Davona Dale. A repeat of that form would make Cathryn Sophia tough to beat here but she failed to stay when third behind Weep No More and Rachel's Valentina in the 8.5-furlong Ashland Stakes at Keeneland last time out, and 9 furlongs at Churchill is an even stiffer test of stamina. She's the best filly going into this classic but she still seems up against a difficult task. Not only will she have to find stamina we have yet to see from her – she also has to overcome stall 12, something that won't be easy for runner with her style. Her trainer had initially decided against the Oaks, but let her take her chance because Songbird dropped out.
WEEP NO MORE makes more appeal and this fast improving daughter of Mineshaft is the clear selection. She really does stick out here, despite the fact that this is an evenly matched, quite open looking field. Weep No More was making only her fourth career start, and winning for the third time on the bounce, when beating Rachel's Valentina and Cathryn Sophia in the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland in April. Coming from way off the pace, she finished to some effect to outstay them both for a solid neck win. She was much the strongest as they hit the line and another half-furlong will be so much in her favor. The long Churchill stretch is also going to suit her, and she is open to further improvement. Weep No More was coming off a comfortable win in the Suncoast Stakes over an extended mile at Tampa Bay when stepping up in class at Keeneland, where she went off at 30-1. Lanerie, who rode her for the first time in the Ashland, keeps the mount. This combination drew stall two, in between two fillies that both like to go forward, and Weep No More can probably drop smoothly back and get onto the rail. Look for her to stay on past horses at the business end.
RACHEL'S VALENTINA fought on bravely in the closing stages of the Ashland, where she had gone with Cathryn Sophia in a bit of a speed duel early on. She lost by just a neck to Weep No More (with Catryn Sophia another neck back in third) and it was her first start this year. Winner of the Spinaway and runner-up to Songbird in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies last year, she must be respected. Though, like Cathryn Sophia, she is a prominent runner with a wide post. She quickly proved herself to be one of the best juvenile fillies last year, when she beat Tap to It by a length in the Spinaway (subsequent G2 second Constellation finished third) and ran second, beaten 5 ¾ lengths, behind Songbird at the Breeders' Cup. By Travers winner Bernardini out of Kentucky Oaks and Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra, Rachel's Valentina is certainly bred for the job.
GO MAGGIE GO produced a remarkable performance to capture the April 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks on only her second start. The Dale Romans trainee had won a 6-furlong maiden by 4 lengths from subsequent winner Conquest Serenade three weeks earlier. That race was run over a fast track. When she took a big step up in class, and distance, the track came up sloppy. Neither the conditions nor the 8.5-furlong trip bothered the daughter of Ghostzapper. She was up with the pace throughout and drew off for a strong-looking win over Paola Queen, who was beaten 2 ¼ lengths at level weights. Go Maggie Go was going away at the finish. 9 furlongs will be ideal for her. Off the Tracks, who had been so impressive sprinting on her previous outing (but failed to stay), was half a length further adrift in third, with last year's Alcibiades winner Gomo fourth. Go Maggie Go earned a provisional GF 112p for this win. She could easily improve enough to go past them all here.
LEWIS BAY was no match for Cathryn Sophia in the Davona Dale but it was her first run since she landed the Demoiselle at Aqueduct last November, and she probably needed the race. She moved markedly forward in the Gazelle back at Aqueduct in April, when she won by 1 ½ lengths from Royal Obsession, who she was spotting six pounds. Mo d'Amour was beaten 8 ½ lengths in third. Lewis Bay produced her best form to date in the Gazelle, a race contested over 9 furlongs over a muddy track. Stamina has thus been proven, and she has a shot here.
LAND OVER SEA represents Songbird's outstanding form. The latter would be long odds-on if lining up in the Kentucky Oaks but sadly she was stopped by a fever and had to bypass Churchill Downs. Land Over Sea has been second to Songbird three times at Santa Anita; in last year's Chandelier Stakes (beaten 4 ½ lengths), the Las Virgenes Stakes in February (6 ½ lengths) and Santa Ysabel Stakes in early March (3 ¾ lengths). Rather than facing another humiliation in the Santa Anita Oaks, she went for the Fair Grounds Oaks on March 26, and franked Songbird's form in no uncertain manner. Looking well beaten as they turned for home, she picked up really well down the stretch and went by her chief rivals for a smart looking 4 1/2-length win. Dream Dance (allowance winner next out) checked home in second, ahead of Adore (who runs in the Edgewood, R10). Land Over Sea showed plenty of stamina that day, and she is another in with a chance.
TERRA PROMESSA, set to break from post one for the powerful Asmussen team,. Entered Kentucky Derby considerations after an easy 6 1/2-length win in the Honeybee over 8.5 furlongs at Oaklawn Park in March. She came from just off the pace to stroll right away for a facile win over Edegwood contender Nickname. The track was sloppy (sealed) and perhaps such conditions suited her ideally. She was not as impressive when following up in the Fantasy over the same course and distance in April, when he defeated her barnmate Taxable to win by a neck. Terra Promessa is 4-for-5, with one of those wins over the Churchill track, and she is open to further improvement.
ROYAL OBSESSION looks the one if you are in search of a real longshot to upset this Oaks field. Yet another Steve Asmussen trainee, this $1.1 million daughter of Tapit stayed on gamely for second in the Gazelle and she showed improved form in the process. Lewis Bay did beat her by a length and a half while also giving her 6lb, however, and it goes without saying that Royal Obsession – a maiden winner here at Churchill last year – needs to progress by quite a few lengths again to hit the board in the Oaks.
A: 2 WEEP NO MORE
B: 4 GO MAGGIE GO, 11 RACHEL'S VALENTINA
C: 3 LEWIS BAY, 12 CATHRYN SOPHIA, 13 LAND OVER SEA
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