2018 Kentucky Oaks Thoughts According to Dew

by Justin Dew

It seems pretty clear that Monomoy Girl and Midnight Bisou, both of whom’s names trigger my iPad to tell me that I misspelled a word, are going to be your favorite and co-favorite in the Kentucky Oaks. They’ve done impressive things on the racetrack, and bettors will wager on them accordingly. But the key to betting on any race is to find value, and I think there are reasons to take a stand against one of them while using the other with perhaps a bigger price in the exotics.

First, Midnight Bisou. My gut tells me she will be at her best around one turn. I realize she is a dual-graded stakes winner at 1 1/16 miles, but those wins came against questionable competition. And I’m also not a huge fan of taking a short price on a daughter of Midnight Lute at 9 furlongs shipping east for the first time, especially when I suspect she’ll try to come from behind. She’s good. But I don’t think this will be her best game.

Monomoy Girl confuses me a little. She has two wins coming from way back, and four other wins going wire-to-wire. My guess is she will be part of the Oaks pace, and the way she drew off in the Ashland suggests that she won’t have a problem with the additional 100 yards. The question with her is the price. She’ll be favored. Additionally, she won’t be able to coast alone like she did at Keeneland. So she’ll need to really be the best filly to win this, because I don’t see her stealing it.

As for who are the most logical alternatives, I think there are a few ways you can go. For one, I think it’s interesting that Kieran McLaughlin is pointing the very promising Sara Street to another race Derby weekend. Is that because he thinks Take Charge Paula has a big shot? And what about Coach Rocks, who just beat Take Charge Paula? Does she have another move forward in her? Or do we need to look to the Oaklawn and Fair Grounds preps? Or the Gazelle?

I can probably make an interesting case for five or six of the alternatives to the top two. And since I just don’t love either‘s chances, the key to cashing big on the Oaks, for me, is to figure out who is prime for her best effort at a big price.

Monomoy Girl the One to Beat in G1 Ashland Stakes

Press Release

Monomoy Stables, Michael Dubb, The Elkstone Group and Bethlehem Stables’ Monomoy Girl has been installed as the 4-5 favorite in a field of seven 3-year-old fillies entered for Saturday’s 81st running of the $500,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1) at Keeneland.

The 1 1/16-mile main track test offers 170 points toward the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) to be run May 4 at Churchill Downs with 100 going to the winner, 40 to the runner-up, 20 to third place and 10 to fourth. The Oaks is limited to the top 14 point earners that pass the entry box and currently the cut line is 21 points.

The Central Bank Ashland, one of five graded stakes races Saturday, will go as the ninth race on the 11-race program with a 5:45 p.m. ET post time. First post time Saturday is 1:05 p.m.

Trained by Brad Cox and to be ridden by Florent Geroux, Monomoy Girl has won four of five career starts. In her lone 2018 outing, she won the Rachel Alexandra (G2) at Fair Grounds on Feb. 17. Monomoy Girl’s only defeat was a runner-up finish by a neck in the Golden Rod (G2) in November at Churchill Downs.

Monomoy Girl will break from post position one.

copyright Rich Nilsen

Keeneland paddock (copyright All Star Press)

Second choice on the morning line at 2-1 is Magdalena Racing, Gainesway Stable and Harold Lerner’s Eskimo Kisses. Runner-up in the TwinSpires Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) in her most recent start on March 24, Eskimo Kisses will break from post position two. She is trained by two-time Central Bank Ashland winner Kenny McPeek and will be ridden by Corey Lanerie.

Lanerie is one of five riders to have won the Central Bank Ashland three times. A victory Saturday would make him the first to win the race in three consecutive years. Lanerie won with Hooh Why in 2009,Weep No More in 2016 and Sailor’s Valentine in 2017.

Other graded stakes winners in the field include Craig Upham’s Patrona Margarita and Don Alberto Corp.’s Andina Del Sur.

Trained by Bret Calhoun, Patrona Margarita won the Pocahontas (G2) in September at Churchill and did not return to the races until February when she finished fourth behind Monomoy Girl in the Rachel Alexandra. Patrona Margarita will be ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr. and break from post position three.

Trained by Tom Albertrani, Andina Del Sur will be making her main track debut Saturday. Winner of the Florida Oaks (G3) in her most recent start, Andina Del Sur has raced exclusively on turf in her four-race career. Julien Leparoux has the mount and will break from post position five.

The field for the Central Bank Ashland, with riders and morning-line odds, from the rail out is: Monomoy Girl (Geroux, 4-5), Eskimo Kisses (Lanerie, 2-1), Patrona Margarita (Hernandez Jr., 15-1), C. S.Incharge (Luis Saez, 10-1), Andina Del Sur (Leparoux, 6-1), Ipanema Beach (Chris Landeros, 20-1) and Tyfosha (Irad Ortiz Jr., 15-1). All starters will carry 121 pounds.