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Kentucky Oaks 137 Update for Friday, March 11

The results Oaklawn Park's Honeybee and Tampa Bay Downs' Suncoast Stakes could have major implications for the 137th Kentucky Oaks. Nine fillies featured as betting interests in this weekend's Kentucky Oaks Future Wager pool will be running in those races.

| Brisnet Editorial | 03/12/2011 #

KENTUCKY OAKS FUTURE WAGER – ‘ALL OTHERS’ FAVORED IN WIDE OPEN POOL – With a pair of major stars unlikely to make the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) on May 6 at Churchill Downs, this weekend’s lone three-day betting pool for Churchill Downs’ 2011 Kentucky Oaks Future Wager (“KOFW”) looms as a wide-open affair and the mutuel field, or “all others,” appears likely to emerge as a strong betting favorite.

            Missing from the roster of 23 individual horses in the Oaks Future Bet’s 24 wagering interests are reigning 2-year-old filly champion Awesome Feather, who went to the sidelines with a tendon issue soon after her victory in last fall’s Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI), and Turbulent Descent, the winner of last week’s Santa Anita Oaks (GI) who was quickly ruled out of Kentucky Oaks consideration by trainer Mike Puype because of concerns over possible distance limitations.

In their absence, Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia believes Davona Dale (GII) winner R Heat Lightning (#16) and Las Virgenes winner (GI) and Santa Anita Oaks runner-up Zazu (#23) are the strongest prospects to earn the role of KOFW favorite among the pool’s 23 individual fillies.  But the mutuel field, which includes all 3-year-old fillies other than those 23 fillies, is a strong 5-2 favorite.

            Wagering on the March 11-13 pool opens at noon (Eastern) on Friday, March 11 and will, for the first time in its nine-year history, include exacta wagering.  Betting on the three-day KOFW pool will conclude Sunday at 6:30 p.m. – 30 minutes after the conclusion of its companion Kentucky Derby Future Wager.  The Kentucky Oaks Future bet will be offered at racetracks and off-track betting centers throughout North America, and through Twinspires.com and other advance deposit wagering outlets.

            The Kentucky Oaks Future Wager offers fans the opportunity bet on contenders for the 137th running of the Kentucky Oaks, which will carry a record purse of $1 million, at odds that could be much more attractive than those available on race day.  The Oaks, America’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies, attracted record attendance of 116,046 for its 2010 renewal, is scheduled for Friday, May 6, at Churchill Downs.  The Oaks will be telecast live on NBC’s VERSUS network.

SOUTH (Arkansas, Louisiana) / STRONG RENEWAL OF HONEYBEE ATTRACTS RIGOLETTA, DIXIE CITY, SALTY STRIKE – In many years the $125,000 Honeybee Stakes (Grade III) at Oaklawn Park has a mostly local affair, but Saturday’s renewal of the 1 1/16-mile race has attracted a coast-to-coast cast and the race looms as a significant prep for the Kentucky Oaks.

            The nine fillies scheduled to line up in the starting gate for the Honeybee includes Southern California-based Rigoletta, the winner of last fall’s Oak Leaf (GI) at Santa Anita who was knocked out of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) by injury; Dixie City, the winner of the Demoiselle (GII) at New York’s Aqueduct who makes her 2011 debut in the race; Salty Strike, a close third in Churchill Downs’ Debutante (GIII) and second in her return to racing in a recent allowance race at Gulfstream Park; and Joyful Victory, fifth to champion Awesome Feather in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies in her most recent start.

            Joyful Victory makes her first start for Larry Jones, who won the 2008 Kentucky Oaks with Proud Spell and recently ended a year-long retirement.  The native of Hopkinsville, Ky. will also saddle Summer Soiree, a recent allowance winner at Oaklawn.

            Other contenders include recent Oaklawn allowance winner Hearts on Fire and Holy Heavens, winner of the Martha Washington at the Hot Springs, Ark. track. 

            Michael Baze will ride Rigoletta, Jeremy Rose has the assignment on Dixie City and Calvin Borel will be aboard Salty Strike in the Honeybee, which has a scheduled post time of 5:03 p.m. (Eastern).

            Five Honeybee entrants – Joyful Victory, Rigoletta, Salty Strike, Summer Soiree and Holy Heavens – are wagering interests in this weekend’s Kentucky Oaks Future Wager. 

            STREET STORM EDGES AIDE IN MARDI GRASRight Time Racing’s Street Storm rallied late under jockey Jesse Campbell to edge Adele Dilscheider and Claiborne Farm’s Aide in Tuesday’s $60,000 Mardi Gras Stakes, a race moved from grass to the main track at New Orleans’ Fair Grounds.

The victorious daughter of Street Cry is trained by Steve Margolis.

FLORIDA / OAKS CANDIDATES LOOK TO BUILD REPUTATIONS IN SUNCOAST – Local hero Devilish Lady has a pair of Tampa Bay Downs stakes victories on her resumé, but its out-of-town stars are favored to grab the spotlight in Saturday’s $75,000 Suncoast Stakes on the track’s undercard for the $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (GIII), its major Kentucky Derby prep.

            Devilish Lady, who was not nominated to the Kentucky Oaks despite her victories in Tampa Bay’s Sandpiper and Gasparilla Stakes, is an 8-1 risk in the Suncoast’s morning line odds.  The attention of bettors is expected to focus on 3-1 favorite Niji’s Grand Girl, the Ken McPeek-trained runner-up in Tampa Bay’s Florida Oaks (GIII), and Royal Delta, a regally-bred filly from the barn of Hall of Famer Bill Mott who is running for the first time since a 12-length romp in her Oct. 30 racing debut at Belmont Park.

            Niji’s Grand Girl won a Gulfstream Park allowance race prior to her run in the Florida Oaks, and finished a close second to Bouquet Booth in the Delta Princess at Delta Downs.

Although she has raced just once and has not raced in four months, Royal Delta is a wagering interest in this week’s Kentucky Oaks Future Wager, as are two other starters in the strong field of 12 fillies entered in the Suncoast.

One is Canada-based Wyomia (8-1), who won the Mazarine (GIII) over the synthetic Polytrack surface at Toronto’s Woodbine last fall.  Wyomia will run over a traditional dirt course for the first time as the daughter of Vindication makes her first start since a sixth-place finish behind More Than Real in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf in early November at Churchill Downs.

The other Oaks Future bet filly is Miss Smarty Pants (4-1), a daughter of Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones who scored an easy win in a seven-furlong maiden race last time out for trainer Seth Benzel.

Post time for the Suncoast is scheduled for 4:50 p.m. (Eastern).

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