Did those who put together the Kentucky Oaks futures pool actually consult the owners and trainers of fillies they ultimately chose? I wonder because, as I mentioned before, it seems highly unlikely that Elusive Heat is destined for the Oaks. In fact, she is even by-passing Saturday's G3 Cicada because: "We had some issues and we had to take her out of the race," [trainer Kiaran] McLaughlin said. "We've got to get her sound and figure her out." Again, nothing about her training, performances or breeding indicate she was Oaks-bound.
Additionally, an article in Bloodhorse on Friday made clear that, as I speculated, Dream Empress’ ultimate goal will be the grassy Epsom Oaks in England: “She has never trained well on dirt,” said [her trainer Ken] McPeek.
So, this news was posted on Friday and wagering began on Thursday—anyone drop some cool non-refundable bucks on Dream Empress? What a damn waste!
Friday also brought news that ESPN has dropped live coverage of the Oaks this year:
"ESPN still has a great commitment to horse racing," said ESPN spokesman Mark Mandel. "We're going to re-evaluate next year. We have an emphasis this year on Saturday's programming versus a week-day afternoon. So that played into it here."
Please, don't insult our intelligence—ESPN’s commitment to horse racing is virtually nil, and soon to be non-existent. And, frankly, I’m sick and tired of being concerned about stuff like this (let me indulge my cynical negativity for a moment) because so many of the sports’ entities are just so incredibly inept and lacking in vision, it’s a wonder that horse racing survives at all. And yet it does—and I love it still.
As a Twinspires’ subscriber, I will enjoy watching the race online, but for those who wish can enjoy it on Bravo—the channel best known for such feminine-oriented fare as “Project Runway,” “America’s Next Top Model,” “The Millionaire Matchmaker,” “The Rachel Zoe Project,” “Tabatha’s Salon Takeover,” “Top Chef,” and “The Real Housewives of Orange County.” Words can not express how truly offensive it is to marginalize the Kentucky Oaks as a “chick” race so I’ll refrain from saying more, for now.
For those interested in this weekend’s Oaks preps, the G3 Honeybee at Oaklawn on Sunday features three fillies on the futures list: Larry Jones-trainee Just Jenda, Tim Richey’s Delaware-based Bon Jovi Girl (a half-sister to recent G1 Kilroe Mile victor Gio Ponti), and lightly-raced Be Fair (a half-sister to G2 Jim Dandy winner Macho Again). However, I was really impressed with Afleet Deceit’s effort last out, a distant second to Rachel Alexandra in the Martha Washington, but coming in off just a maiden victory.
In the G3 Florida Oaks on Saturday, we’ll see the Mineshaft filly Rock Candy who is undefeated in three Tampa Bay races this year, but finished only a neck ahead of Ameribelle and Don’t Forget Gil in her last effort, the Suncoast. Both foes return here, with new jocks—Eibar Coa and Rajiv Maragh, respectively. Red-hot Thomas Albertrani sends out Darley’s Royal Ballade in her first outing since failing horribly in last October’s G1 Frizette. While her breeding appears more turf favoring—her dam Musical Chimes won the G1 Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (French One Thousand Guineas), as well as the G1 John C. Mabee this side of the Atlantic—Musical Chimes is also a half-sister to multiple-G1 dirt victress (Mother Goose, CCAO, and Gazelle) Music Note so, with Alan Garcia up, Royal Ballade could stamp herself a major KY Oaks contender with a strong performance here.
Also on Saturday is the G2 Fair Grounds Oaks with sure-to-be odds-on favorite Rachel Alexandra—the only questions appear to be how badly will she decimate this field, and will her final time once again be quicker than the 3-year-old boys running three races later in the G2 Louisiana Derby? Others in the race include Four Gifts (her dam Agiftfromservice is a full-sister to the very talented G1 Spinaway winner Cashiers Dream) and Our Dahlia, who appears bred more for grass racing—her third dam is Hall of Fame turfster Dahlia who regularly defeated males at the G1-level, and produced four G1-winners herself (Rivlia, Dahar, Dahlia’s Dreamer, and Delegant). In fact, Our Dahlia’s last out victory was on turf, although she’s done well enough on dirt in the past. Still, this clearly looks like Rachel Alexandra’s race to lose.