The Bomb-Sniffing Handicapper: Oaks Day
The Bomb-Sniffing Handicapper is coming back off a six-month layoff and is raring to go. In his last appearance at the races, the BSH found several bombs lying in wait at the Breeders’ Cup, including 20-1 Musical Romance, 27-1 Perfect Shirl and 14-1 Drosselmeyer. In addition, Schmoos at 15-1 and Excaper at 33-1 both exploded the tote board with second-place finishes in their respective races.
After some time on the Paulick Report shelf, alongside Ray’s collection of racing bobbleheads, the bomb-detection equipment has been recalibrated and is set to seek out runners with a morning line of 10-1 or higher. Let’s fire it up and see what we pick up for the Oaks Day card.
Race 8: Edgewood Stakes – $150,000 for 3-year-old fillies, 1 1/16 miles on the turf
If you’re against low-priced favorite Stephanie’s Kitten, which of course the BSH is, there is a wealth of longshot potential in here.
Anna Sophia (15-1): This filly is making her fifth career start for the always-dangerous Bill Mott. The daughter of the Green Desert sire, Oasis Dream, paired up identical speed figures in her last two, which is often a sign of a pending move forward. While her only graded stakes appearance was a crushing defeat to eventual juvenile fillies champion My Miss Aurelia (no shame in that), Anna Sophia recently finished only a length and a half behind Karlovy Vary, who went on to win the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland, beating Stephanie’s Kitten. Mike Smith takes the call for the first time. Intriguing.
Welcome Dance (12-1): This Henny Hughes filly was well beaten by Stephanie’s Kitten in last September’s Grade 3 Natalma at Woodbine but then came back to romp in an N1X in her next start, which happened to be on the turf at Churchill. Julien Leparoux was aboard for that four-and-a-half length victory, and he climbs back on this time for trainer Michael Matz. Wide draw (13 post) is a concern, but Leparoux is on fire at Churchill so far.
Bomb Potential: HIGH
Bombs Away: Welcome Dance, Anna Sophia
Race 9: Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes – $300,000 for 4-year-olds and upward, 1 1/16 miles
In a race likely to be decided by favorites, there is at least a bit of activity here.
Fort Larned (10-1): He ran a huge one in the Grade 3 Skipaway last out at Gulfstream, recording the top speed figure among this group, which includes leading older males Mucho Macho Man, Nates Mineshaft and Successful Dan. There’s the potential for a bounce from that race, but the 4-year-old son of E Dubai is coming in here in fine form and gets this year’s leading graded stakes jockey in Javier Castellano, who takes the call for trainer Ian Wilkes. Don’t sleep on this one.
Bomb Potential: LOW
Bombs Away: Fort Larned
Race 10: Grade 2 American Turf Stakes – $200,000 for 3-year-olds, 1 1/16 miles on the turf
This race is the Bomb-Sniffing Handicapper’s Late-Night-TV-Commercial Special of the Day.
Scatman (20-1): How many times do you open the past performances and see a sire hitting with 24% of his first-time turfers? But wait there’s more! Scat Daddy was also the leading freshman stallion in 2011. That would be quite a deal, but we’re not done yet! Not only is this guy bred to love the turf, he actually loves it. His work over the Churchill turf course on Tuesday was exquisite. Scatman looked like a hovercraft gliding over the surface. But what about his 16 3/4-length defeat in the Blue Grass last out, you ask? He got an extremely wide trip throughout over the synthetic. He will markedly improve for trainer Michael Lauer in this race. We’ll even throw in Travel Advisory as a bonus!
Travel Advisory (15-1): Trainer Kellyn Gorder is 0 for 13 in graded stakes races, but he also hits at a 15% clip on the turf. Travel Advisory, a son of Stormy Atlantic out of a Street Cry mare, has landed in the exacta in all four of his turf starts. In his last race, he finished five and a half lengths behind Silver Max, one of the favorites in this event, but Silver Max had his own way on the front end in the Transylvania at Keeneland, and Travel Advisory closed from well back to take second. Silver Max draws wide here and must deal with other speed, including Blue Grass runners Howe Great and Gung Ho, plus Santa Anita Derby frontrunner Blueskiesnrainbows.
Bomb Potential: HIGH
Bombs Away: Scatman, Travel Advisory
Race 11: Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks – $1 million for 3-year-old fillies, 1 1/8 miles
Grace Hall may be tough in here, but like the Derby, this is a deep rendition of the Oaks.
Summer Applause (15-1): She’s coming into the race looking sharp, with an excellent work and form that’s impossible to knock. With the speed in here, the race sets up perfectly for the Harlan’s Holiday filly to set down in the lane under Garrett Gomez.
Hard Not To Like (20-1) And Why Not (15-1)? Sounds like a hunch play, but both of these fillies deserve a look. Hard Not To Like hits the dirt for the first time with Hard Spun as her sire and a close second to Karlovy Vary in her first start as a 3-year-old in the Ashland. And Why Not got drubbed by Oaks morning line favorite Grace Hall in her last, but that was her first start since October. She is working very well for trainer Michael Matz, and if the pace scorches like it might, she’ll provide track announcer Mark Johnson with plenty of enticing options for the stretch call.
Bomb Potential: MEDIUM
Bombs Away: Summer Applause, Hard Not To Like, And Why Not