The Melbourne Cup Carnival continues with the $1 million G1 Crown Oaks tonight (11:00 p.m. EST), and the spat of longshot victors should end with the favorite Samantha Miss who is just outstanding. Last out, ambitiously placed in the $3 million weight-for-age G1 Cox Plate, she finished a closing third to male high weights Maldivian and Zipping. Much of the field she has already beaten and, as a 2-year-old in May, battled back to defeat the male champion Sebring in the G1 Champagne Stakes. Any surface condition, any track she has run this far, Samantha Miss has stepped up, so it is hard to ignore her chances, even when attempting her longest distance yet— 2500m, or just over 12 furlongs.
Guy Walter-trained Rocha won the 10-furlong G2 Wakeful on November 1; her dam Larrocha won the 2500m G1 South Australian Oaks, so distance should not be a factor. However, if the Flemington track remains dead (yielding), then she may be at a disadvantage, as will be her 16 barrier position.
Frankly, I thought Miss Scarlatti was more impressive coming into and out of the Wakeful where she finished second. Her dam Crimson is by Zabeel—staying power—but she too breaks awkwardly from barrier 17.
I am not a fan of Kimillsy (barrier 2) at the distance, and Estee (barrier 10) strikes me as wanting less ground. While sentimental speculation continues for Bart Cummings’ entrants Think Money (barrier 6) and Allez Wonder (barrier 14), I am not on board.
If Samantha Miss is upset, I am looking for Glowlamp (barrier 13) who has been a favorite of mine since last March’s G3 Sweet Embrace, when she was just beat by Stripper—and defeated Samantha Miss. She also put in an excellent showing in both the G1 Sire Produce and G1 Champagne behind Sebring and Samantha Miss. She will need luck from that barrier, but this Encosta de Lago filly, out of the dual Epsom and Irish Derby winning Shirley Heights mare Push a Venture, could pull a major upset. I like her, especially with a little sting out of the track.
Oh, and I would be remiss if I did not throw out another super-longshot possibility—Lunar Lights (barrier 9). Major class challenge here, but here is my reasoning. Point one: jockey Corey Brown lost a heart-breaker when Bauer was just nosed out by Viewed in the Cup, so this could be sweet revenge bringing in this longshot whom he has never ridden. Point two (and you knew this was coming): Lunar Lights’ dam My Fair Lago is by, obviously, Encosta de Lago; however, My Fair Lago's dam is Sunflower, sired by...Scenic (same Foolish Pleasure connection as Viewed). Hey, karma could work!