This year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) features 10 runners going 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky. In six months’ time, some of those fillies could show back up in Kentucky, but this time under the Twin Spires at Churchill Downs for the May 6 Kentucky Oaks (G1).
Many will have already gone the nine-furlong distance of the Oaks before the Run for the Lilies, but not all will have had the opportunity to run at Churchill. Most of the juveniles running on Saturday will be given some time off following their Breeders’ Cup run, leaving only a select few with experience on the track.
Dothraki Queen (Pure Prize) and Bold Quality (Elusive Quality) are among those few already boasting a race at Churchill Downs.
Dothraki Queen did the best at the track, taking the September 12 Pocahontas S. (G2) by a half-length over Bold Quality. The bay miss bided her time before unleashing a winning rally to score her in her second career start.
Dothraki Queen is trained by Kentucky-based conditioner Kenny McPeek, meaning she should have plenty of time to acclimate to the Bluegrass State’s ever changing spring weather before the Oaks.
Ma Can Do It (Majesticperfection) could also benefit from a locally based trainer. The bay miss is saddled by Dale Romans, who sent her out to run third in the Alcibiades S. (G1) at Keeneland while still a maiden. She’s a morning-line longshot for the Juvenile Fillies, but Breeders’ Cup also-rans have come back to do quite well in the Oaks after maturing over the winter.
Rachel’s Valentina (Bernardini) has a lot to live up to being a daughter of Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra. That mare recorded the largest winning margin in the Kentucky Oaks when romping home a 20 1/4-length scorer of the 2009 edition.
Rachel’s Valentina has yet to go beyond seven furlongs, and Saturday’s Juvenile Fillies will be a good test to see how she handles the extra distance. With Rachel Alexandra as her dam and champion Bernardini, who won multiple Grade 1s at 1 1/4 miles, as her sire, the Todd Pletcher filly should have no trouble.
Depending on how she fares in the Breeders’ Cup, Songbird (Medaglia d’Oro) looks to be the early favorite for the 2016 Kentucky Oaks. The California-based lass has dominated her competition on the West Coast and owns the numbers to continue her supremacy against this bunch.
The Jerry Hollendorfer pupil will likely continue her Oaks preparations in California, and could find herself going off the favorite come May 6, just like fellow Californian Stellar Wind did in the 2015 Oaks.